In the 6.30 at Sedgefield on Thursday, Trafalgar Rock is 2-2 over hurdles and, at the time of writing, favourite at 2.02 on Betfair to complete a hat-trick. However, while the Mount Nelson gelding won easily enough on his debut at Uttoxeter in June, the form hasn’t worked out and he had to work much harder to beat 100/1 outsider Playingwithnumbers at Worcester five weeks ago. Once again, the horses from that race that have run since have done little, or nothing, for the form, so Trafalgar Rock could be vulnerable under a double penalty. He was a consistent, if fairly moderate, performer on the Flat for Mark Johnston and has clearly settled in well at Dr. Richard Newland’s yard, but it’s easy to pick holes in his hurdles form so far. Conditional jockey Charlie Hammond replaces Sam Twiston-Davies, which is hardly a positive, so Trafalgar looks a decent lay bet at 2.18 on Betfair, despite his trainer’s excellent record at the track.
Selection: Sedgefield 6.30 Lay Trafalgar Rock at 2.18
The Hungerford Stakes, run over 7 furlongs at Newbury, was upgraded to Group 2 status in 2006 and, in the last 10 years, has produced just two winning favourites, although seven winners in that period were returned at single-figure prices. This year’s renewal is competitive enough, with 14 runners set to line up on Saturday, but ante post favourite Home Of The Brave (9/4) looks to have an outstanding chance of making it three wins from four starts this season.
Hugo Palmer’s 4-year-old made all, or most, of the running when winning the Listed King Richard III Stakes at Leicester in April and the Group 3 John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock in May and only gave best in the hundred yards when going down by 1¾ lengths to Dutch Connection in the Group Lennox Stakes on his most recent outing at Goodwood last month. The winner subsequently ran creditably in defeat when fifth of 15, beaten 2 lengths, in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last Sunday and Home Of The Brave sets a decent standard. An immature, lightly framed type, he appears much stronger this year and can keep up the good work.
Selection: Newbury 4.10 Home Of The Brave (9/4) to win
The top five in the Official World Golf Rankings are missing from the Travelers Championship, which gets underway at TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut on Thursday, but there was never any doubt that defending champion Bubba Watson would tee it up this week. Watson, 37, misses the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio to do so but, granted his impressive record in the Travelers, punters may be glad that he does.
After missing the cut on his first attempt in 2006, Watson has finished in the top ten on five of his subsequent eight attempts at the Travelers, including playoff wins in 2015 and 2010, tied second in 2012 and fourth in 2013. The big-hitting left-hander has had a steady, if unspectacular, season, making 14 out of 14 cuts, including in all four majors and the Players Championship, and winning the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in February for the second time. As the highest ranked player in the field this week, he looks a worthy favourite at 14/1 and worthy of support.
Selection: Travelers Championship – Bubba Watson to win outright (14/1 generally available)