A magnificent day’s flat racing at Newmarket on ground that is likely to be on the fast side of good, although there was the prospect of an isolated shower on Friday afternoon.
The card opens with three juvenile Group race contests, including two at the top level, the second of which is the Middle Park Stakes for colts over six furlongs.
I am surprised Blackbeard does not head the market, having won the G1 Prix Morny at Deauville last time and in doing so reversing Royal Ascot form with the busy Persian Force, who is having his seventh start of the season and is yet to finish out of the first two.
Marshman finished runner up to Godolphin’s Noble Style in the Gimcrack last month, and the Boys In Blue are represented by MISCHIEF MAGIC this afternoon and I think this Kempton Group 3 winner can take todays step up in grade in his stride.
Commentator Mark Johnson announced Mischief Magic was “much the best” when he passed the post two lengths clear in the Sirenia Stakes last time when he was dropped in at the rear from the worst of the draw before flying down the outside to cut down his rivals. Much the best he was, but he will have to improve again to down Blackbeard and co. I think he can.
This year’s Commonwealth Cup winner Perfect Power won the corresponding race months ago, and you would imagine this afternoon’s winner will head the ante-post market for that 3-y-old sprint at next year’s Royal Ascot going into winter quarters.
I mentioned earlier in the month that I have backed Savvy Victory for the Cambridgeshire, but I was hoping for a bit more rain for the 3-y-old and he is reluctantly overlooked despite the positive booking of Ryan Moore.
The last six winners of the first leg of the autumn double have been drawn high – in the 20s – but there is plenty of pace down the middle of the track, including market leader Mujtaba so impressive when scoring at Doncaster last time over 10f. He carries a 4lbs penalty for that fluent victory, but at a top price of 5/1, he makes little appeal from a betting medium, although he is the most likely winner.
Saeed bin Suroor did us a favour when landing the corresponding race 12 months ago, and the Godolphin handler throws four more darts at the board this afternoon.
I have backed two of them again this year, namely Brilliant Light and ELECTRICAL STORM, with marginal preference for the latter, although I would have been happier with a higher draw than stall twelve.
The selection finished best of all when third to Mr McCann – yes, the irony was not lost on me – at Haydock last time, and this straight nine-furlong sprint should suit especially as he is drawn near top-weight Majestic Dawn, who looks sure to go hard from the front. Cheren Fallon takes over in the saddle with regular pilot Louis Steward off to the Curragh for one ride on Wahaaj in a valuable Sales race.
The classic generation have won the valuable mile handicap six times in the last decade, and I think they can add to that record courtesy of AKHU NAJLA, who returns to the track for the first time since finishing third in a listed contest at Sandown back in the spring.
I was disappointed at the time with that effort, but his subsequent absence from the track suggests something was found to be amiss with this half-brother to Guineas winner Galileo Gold. Roger Varian’s colt holds entries in valuable handicaps and a Newmarket Group 2 next month, and this forecast of good/good to soft ground will suit more than the fast ground he encountered at the Esher track.
I am loath to desert Alfred Boucher, who failed so narrowly to land the Ebor last month, and a 4lbs rise is fair. His draw in stall ten is a slight concern as his ability to get this extended 2m 2f, but Richard Kingscote rides Chester supremely well, and he could easily defy the steadier of 9st 12lbs.
The each-way nod, however, goes to CALL MY BLUFF, who ran a terrific race at Newmarket last weekend doing the best of those held up off a slow early pace. The selection has a course record of 1-3, and John Egan, who was in the plate when placed earlier in the season, returns to the saddle. Drawn in stall three, he must run a big race if Egan can get him in a good position as the field pass the stands for the first time.
Frankenstella would have been the selection had it not been for her desperate draw in stall fourteen. Jason Hart will do well to get across from his wide draw. If not, the mare will likely have to cover plenty of ground.
3.30pm Market Rasen
De Barley Basket has won five of his nine career chase starts, and he could be called the winner a long way from home when scoring at Uttoxeter earlier in the month from a 9lbs higher mark. However, he is unlikely to get his way up front, with Champagne Court and One True King in the field.
Big Difference only got as far as the fifth when hampered and unseating rider at Perth on Thursday. If allowed to take his chance, he must go close, but DEAD RIGHT beat a good field to win the corresponding race two years ago and can run from a mark 3lbs lower today.
The 10-y-old has only raced four times since that success but ran a very good race returning from a near 12-month absence when beaten over hurdles last month. This is likely to have been the target since that promising comeback, although it should be noted that the Neil Mulholland yard are pulling up few trees at present.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.