Megan Nicholls Racing Tips – Breeders' Cup, Wetherby & Ascot
BetMGM ambassador Megan Nicholls gives her thoughts on the horse racing world, bringing her top-class knowledge and insight exclusively to our blog each week.
This time the highly-regarded former jockey, who rode more than 110 winners before becoming a sought-after pundit on television, casts her eye over the meetings at Wetherby and Ascot as well as the Breeders’ Cup in California.
Melbourne Cup Musings
The Melbourne Cup is upon us and it’s a great opportunity for Hollie Doyle, who gets the leg up on Future History. It will be an amazing experience and I’m absolutely delighted for her.
However note that Vauban, an impressive winner by seven lengths in the Cooper Horse Stakes at Royal Ascot for Willie Mullins, goes over to Australia for this one. He had a nice prep run after that at Naas in the Group Three Ballyroan Stakes – arguably much too sharp over a mile-and-a-half but winning it nicely as well – so you have to be giving him plenty of credit.
You can understand why he is the favourite, especially when you consider a light weight of only 8st 9lbs on his back.
I think, provided he gets a nice draw, he should be tough to beat. It would be great to see Willie going over and taking the Melbourne Cup for Irish horse racing too.
Without A Fight warrants plenty of respect – I believe jockey Mark Zahra is going to stick with him after the two combined to win the Caulfield Cup back in October. He was over here trained by Simon and Ed Crisford previously but he has done very well since moving to Australia.
The question is: will he stay the two miles? He’s stayed 1m 6f over here and you could argue he hadn’t quite acclimatised to Australia in the Melbourne Cup last year, while he also didn’t have the smoothest run of the race.
He seems to have improved and gone in the right direction since so he deserves another go at this trip – whether he will see it out or not, I’m not sure.
I absolutely think they have the right favourite in Vauban, though, and I look forward to watching that in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Wetherby 2.25 – The West Yorkshire Hurdle
This has a relatively small field but it’ll be competitive nonetheless and so my pick here is going to be Dashel Drasher.
I really like this horse – he’s thrived since returning to hurdles and was really competitive right at the top level in the staying division last year. He deserves to get his head in front in these better races because he did not do an awful lot wrong last season.
He was second at the Cheltenham Festival in March – he is a revived horse and fair play to the team for getting him back to his best and showing some of that old sparkle. Soft ground is fine and, on last year’s form, he has to be the one to beat.
I have gone against Time Hill. I know he ran better at the end of the season when returning to hurdles but he is a bit of a quirky horse – he can be too fresh and quite keen on the back of a break. That’s why I’m sticking with Dashel Drasher.
Megan’s Tip: Dashel Drasher WIN
Wetherby 3.00 – Charlie Hall Chase
It’s a real shame the Charlie Hall has been cut to only four runners. I know the ground and conditions at the moment aren’t helping but such a small field is still really disappointing.
Bravemansgame is a short-priced favourite – he returns off the back of an amazing season and some incredible runs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Punchestown Gold Cup.
On official ratings and the form, he’s absolutely the one to beat. He’s obviously had previous with Ahoy Senor and has beaten him more times than the other way around – you’d think that would be the case once again here.
They met in this race last year and, for whatever reason, Ahoy Senor did not perform anywhere near his best. We know this is a talented horse on his day but jumping can be an issue. Despite having a massive engine, the concern is the jumping rhythm he gets into and that makes him harder to trust.
Gentleman’s Game warrants respect as well but has got a lot to find on his very best form. We did not see him all of last year but he finished second on his return at the end of September in the PWC Champion Chase at Gorwan behind Easy Game and ahead of Envoi Allen. So he is in decent form but nowhere near Gold Cup form so I’m going to keep it simple and go with Bravemansgame.
Megan’s Tip: Bravemansgame WIN
Ascot 3.45 – Gold Cup Handicap Chase
Monbeg Genius is a worthy favourite. He was an improver last year over fences as a novice and ended his account in the Ultima Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival.
The form from that race is unbelievable as Fastorslow went on to win the Punchestown Gold Cup and Corach Rambler went on to win the Grand National at Aintree.
Soft ground isn’t an issue either – he’s been a winner on this surface before, he stays nicely and he seems to be a straightforward horse. You cannot knock what he did last year and the way he improved and, with experience of running in big field handicaps behind him, I can imagine he will be pretty hard to beat if returns in the same sort of form in which we saw him finish the season.
My each-way pick would be the Gary Moore-trained Larry. He’s a horse that goes very well at Ascot, he’s pretty consistent and doesn’t tend to run much of a bad race.
That said, if it ends up testing on the jumps track it might not help his chances. He has won on heavy before but it seems good-to-soft might be his optimum. The track is why I fancy his chances because he really goes well at Ascot and he won this race two years ago.
Megan’s Tip: Monbeg Genius WIN; Larry E/W
Santa Anita 9.50 – Breeders' Cup Turf
This is such a fascinating race over in California. We have a clash again between Auguste Rodin and King of Steel – the former comes here fresh while the latter had a pretty hard race in the Champions Stakes at Ascot.
We know he is pretty talented but that could have taken a bit out of him. When you add in the travel factor and his pretty awful draw of 11, I just think there are enough reasons to go against him.
Top of the market are Auguste Rodin and Mostahdaf and it’s really tricky to pick between these two.
We know Auguste Rodin is so talented on the right day but he’s not the most straightforward and his form is rather in and out.
I’m going to go with Mostahdaf, who gets his preferred ground. He’s been extremely impressive this season in his couple of runs and, notably, he was given a master ride in the Juddmonte by Frankie Dettori.
Jim Crowley returns this time – and in draw nine, so I imagine he will be ridden to go forward and slot into a handy position – while a sharp mile-and-a-half is going to be no issue for him whatsoever. Track and trip should all suit, so I’m going with Mostahdaf.
Megan’s Tip: Mostahdaf WIN Browse all our horse racing markets here
Odds correct at time of publication but subject to fluctuation