Belardo 4.00 Newmarket (Fri)
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Gleneagles was a surprise absentee at the final declaration stage for Friday’s Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket with Ballydoyle electing to rely on Smuggler’s Cove from an original 5-day entry of seven. The defection of the disqualified winner of Longchamp’s Grand Criterium on Arc day appears to leave the way clear for Richard Hannon’s Estidhkaar to justify favouritism (best price evens with Skybet) in the Group 1 contest won in recent year’s by the likes of Frankel and Dawn Approach but with conditions likely to be testing at headquarters it may be unwise to take a short price about the son of Dark Angel.
The impressive winner of Doncaster’s Champagne Stakes on his most recent start Estidhkaar has won on good to soft ground when beating Aktabantay in Newmarket’s Superlative Stakes back in July but that looked a fairly weak Group 2 and the only defeat suffered by Paul Hanagan’s mount came on his debut when easily brushed aside by the 96-rated Portamento on very soft ground at Goodwood. Estidhkaar may have needed that first outing at the Sussex venue but with similar conditions expected on Friday it could be worth opposing the talented colt on this occasion.
While it is difficult to rule out any of the favourite’s six rivals the one who makes the most appeal at the 14-1 on offer with Betvictor and William Hill is the Roger Varian-trained Belardo, the mount of Andrea Atzeni. An impressive winner at Yarmouth on his debut the Lope De Vega colt possibly needed the experience when a promising fourth behind Estidhkaar’s stablemate Ivawood in the July Stakes before running out a most impressive winner of Newbury’s Washington Singer Stakes on good to soft ground. Only fourth to Estidhkaar at Doncaster last time Belardo is fancied to show that form all wrong, especially on ground that should suit, and the highly-regarded colt, despite being 3lb worse off is taken to come out on top at the double figure price available.