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Horse Racing: What A Shout

Doncaster is the stage on Saturday for the final British Group 1 contest of the year, while jumps fans can rejoice on a weekend where Cheltenham and Aintree swing back into action.

On this week's What A Shout, host Dave Orton is joined by trainer Milton Harris, Racing Post tipster Paul Kealy, and bet365's Pat Cooney, to preview the Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes at Doncaster and other ITV races from Cheltenham and Newbury.

We've picked out some highlights from this week's edition of What A Shout in association with bet365. 

All the weekend's racing action in the UK and Ireland can be followed via our live Sports Streaming Service

Kealy selects King to lift Trophy

Aidan O'Brien is bidding for a record-breaking 11th success in the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy (3.35) at Doncaster this weekend. Despite the Irish trainer's track record in the two-year-old race, Paul Kealy is taking on the red-hot favourite Auguste Rodin (10/11) with Nottingham maiden winner King Of Steel (12/1) for trainer David Loughnane. 

He said: "With more rain expected at Doncaster before the meeting, I am going to take a chance with King Of Steel. When he won at Nottingham earlier this month, he went through the ground like a 3m chaser. It wasn't a great race, but he is a huge horse and I think he will relish the ground.

"He does need to improve considerably for this step up to Group 1 company, but I expect him to be staying on when others are going to be struggling. I should imagine this horse will get much further than this distance as he gets older.

"Auguste Rodin goes into this race at odds-on, but I don't think there has been anything near as much hype around this horse as there was of the previous Aidan O'Brien winners like Camelot, St Nicholas Abbey, and Luxembourg.

"His form is rather weak. He did win a Group 2 contest at Leopardstown last time out, but the runner-up was sixth of 10 on its next assignment. If this horse was not trained by O'Brien, there is no way he'd be the price he is. Having said that, he is an O'Brien horse, and his trainer has said he could be a Guineas and Derby horse [next year]."

Harris: Knight Salute ready for Cheltenham return

In what was his first appearance on bet365-sponsored What A Shout, trainer Milton Harris spoke very highly of his star hurdler Knight Salute. The four-year-old won six of his seven races last season, including a Grade 1 contest at Aintree where he dead-heated Pied Piper before being awarded the race in the stewards' room.

That was Harris' first Grade 1win and he is not ruling out a shot at the Champion Hurdle (a race he is 66/1 to win come 14th March) later in the campaign for the horse. He is set to take on Gordon Elliott's Pied Piper (10/11) again in the 2.40 at Cheltenham on Saturday where he is 11/4 to come out on top. 

Harris said: "This horse is not the biggest individual, but he has grown a little over the summer. We think he is a better horse this year. 

"This race will tell all of us where we go this season. If he wins well, we will have the Christmas Hurdle and Champion Hurdle in mind. If he doesn't impress, we may have to look around at other options in places like France.

"I am very happy with where he is at going into this race. He went to Kempton recently and did a good piece of work. He has always been very professional and unassuming which makes him very easy to train.

"Every so often a horse like Katchit comes around. I am not saying he is a Katchit, but we don't know what his limit is yet. To be a Champion Hurdle contender, you need to be rated somewhere close to 170, so we have around 15lb to find yet. He is a young horse though, and he is still improving.

"The Champion Hurdle picture is, there are two very good horses in Honeysuckle and Constitution Hill who need to get there on the day. Beyond that, there is not much between the rest of them."

Eagle can swoop to conquer Hamish in St Simon

The St Simon Stakes is one of the two Group 2 races on the card at Newbury on Saturday. The 1m4f contest takes place at 2.25. Recent Ascot winner Hamish is the 4/6 favourite to come out on top for William Haggas.

Kealy respects the favourite, but he is taking him on with Lone Eagle (5/1) for Martyn Meade and champion jockey William Buick. 

The Racing Post tipster said: "He is three from three on soft ground and he nearly won an Irish Derby. I think he has been off the track due to the ground. It has been a baking hot summer and he needs juice in the surface.

"On official ratings, there is a 1lb between him and Hamish. He is a reasonable price, and he is the one most likely to beat the favourite.

"Hamish is a very talented horse, but he has had his problems. In 2019 he raced six times, but since then, he has only featured seven times. He went off at a short price last year at Kempton and he got beat.

"He did win very well last time, and he is definitely the right favourite. I just feel there is some value in taking him on."

Widdow Maker has form to prevail

The 3.15 at Cheltenham is one of the most competitive races on the card at HQ on Saturday. Clear The Runway is the 11/4, with Editeur Du Gite is next best at 7/2, while Dads Lad, who will be saddled by Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins, is 4/1

Kealy, however, is happy to take on the trio with The Widdow Maker for Joe Tizzard at odds of 13/2.

He said: "The Widdow Maker was thrown into Grade 1 company last year and he was third. The level of his form gives him a great shout here if he is ready. Colin Tizzard did not have a great record at this meeting, but Joe seems to be doing things differently.

"Willie Mullins has definitely not had a runner at this meeting since 2011. He may not have had a runner here at all, as my race tracker doesn't go back any further than that, so Dads Lad is an interesting runner. I just worry if he will be good enough.

"Clear The Runway has been winning a lot of races over the summer, but he may get found out now he is coming up against proper horses." 

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