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Our first week of doing a racing preview for Channel Four Racing went down well, and we actually managed to turn ourselves a nice profit. We had an outlay of 7 units and after one win and a two places for our each way bets (including a place for 25/1 shot Barnet Fair in the Ayr Silver Cup), we ended up with a profit of +4.98 units, which I’m extremely pleased with, and judging by the correspondence we received, so are you.
So because it was so popular, and also a bit of a money maker, it is only right that we continue with our preview, and this week the live racing comes from Newmarket and Market Rasen. Yes, we’ve got flat racing and jumps racing, which makes me unbelievably excited. Yes, we’re getting some proper jumps racing now that we’re coming into autumn instead of the summer jumps racing that we hve to get by on while the flat horses do their thing. But, of course, the jumps racing isn’t the main talking point of the day, it’s actually the big Cambridgeshire Handicap, which is going to be a bit of a nightmare to try and sort it out and find the winner. But, rest assured, I’ll try and find some value and hopefully get a big-price winner to get our weekend off to a flyer.
The first live race on Channel Four is the Juddmonte Lodge Royal Stakes, and it’s a high-class Group 2, albeit with a small field, with currently six runners declared for this race. It’s a race for two-year-olds, and it’s an interesting field, with the majority of the runners having a good chance to pick up a valuable win.
Beast Mode won last time out at Newcastle in only his second run, after finishing midfield at Newmarket on his debut. His win over Dark Devil has turned out not bad, with the runner-up going on to win next time out. However, it is a big step up in class for him, and it might just be too much against a quality field. He was also given the chance to make all last time, with nothing coming to challenge him – he won’t get things his own way this time out.
Deauville already has a Group 3 win under his belt, beating Sanus Per Aquam last time out at Leopardstown. Sanus Per Aquam was turned over at 1/3 last time out and then went on to win on Thursday at Newmarket, beating the classy Tasleet. So the form for Deauville is there for everyone to see.
Foundation is undefeated from two starts, with a Listed win last time out proving his quality. The form, however, isn’t that great, even though a Listed win in only his second start is proof of quality. We’d just be looking for a better line of form in this quality field, and we’ve got better ones elsewhere.
I liked Humphrey Bogart a lot back in August before his run in York, and was disappointed to see him finish fourth in what was a well-run race. He was then, weirdly, dropped down in trip last time out, and finished second, where he was finishing well and was just hampered. This mile is going to suit him, as he’s going to eat up that extra furlong. He does look a bit over-exposed, however, and does seem a tricky customer to get right. But I like this colt a lot, it’s just a shame the race comes only a fortnight after his run at Doncaster.
Muntazah had a good win last time out just a fortnight ago at Leicester, but he’s disappointed in his other two runs, which have come at Newmarket. This is also a huge step up in class here, and he’s got a lot to find with Deauville and Humphrey Bogart, in my opinion.
It’s hard to look past Deauviille as he’s got the class, he’s got the right connections and just looks head and shoulders above the rest. However, Humphrey Bogart is going to love this step up in trip, and if anything is going to challenge Deauville, it is going to be the Richard Hannon colt. Look for Beast Mode to set a strong pace, and Humphrey Bogart to come off of the pace flying home. Yes, Deauville looks the obvious selection, but there’s more value to be had with Humphrey Bogart.
2:15 Market Rasen
The Prelude Hurdle is the first jumps race of the day, and, as I mentioned earlier, I’m excited. It might not be the best jumps race we’re going to see in the next few months, but it’s a Listed race over 2 miles and we’ve got a strong field lining up for this given the time of year it’s being run.
We can look at the Summer Hurdle run at Market Rasen a couple of months back for a few pointers, as several of the runners in this race competed in that race. Gran Maestro won that race, and looks to be well-handicapped to replicate that form. He’s also had a warm-up race on the flat to make sure he’s in good nick for this, so he’s definitely one to watch.
Commissioned has the class, but is giving a stone-plus away to the field here, so it’s going to be a huge ask, especially when the weights didn’t favour him in the Summer Hurdle, where he finished over 13 lengths back. This isn’t his race, by the looks of things, and he needs to come down a bit in the handicap for things to improve.
Manhattan Swing won last time out at Market Rasen, so has solid claims here. However, he’s giving away 7lbs to Gran Maestro. The last time they met, it was only a 3lb difference and Gran Maestro took care of him by three lengths. He’s not weighted to win this, but should go well.
Swansea Mile looks a classy sort, but the chance of trainer from Ted Walsh to Dan Skelton is a bit of a concern for me. If he can reproduce the form he showed in Ireland, he might be incredibly well in at the weight and could bolt up, but there’s a question mark on his first run for Skelton, so just keep an eye on him and see how he goes, as it might just be one for the future.
There was a race at Stratford at the start of the month that looks interesting for this race. That race was won by Broughton, with Laudatory finishing second by just over two lengths. However, Laudatory was giving Broughton 15lbs. At the weights, expect Laudatory to see off Broughton here. The problem is, again, the Summer Hurdle, as Laudatory got within three lengths of Gran Maestro, giving him 9lbs. He’s giving him 9lbs again today, so why should the places differ?
Well, for me, Laudatory’s jumping wasn’t on point in the Summer Hurdle, which cost him a few lengths, and it was vital towards the end of the race. So, sure, Gran Maestro is weighted to win the Prelude Hurdle, but I think Laudatory could just give him a run for his money in what looks to be an open race. Keep an eye on any gamble towards Swansea Mile, too, because of the money comes, the stable knows something we don’t.
Next up we have the Cheveley Park Stakes for two-year-old filles, and this is a seriously good field going to post for this 6 furlong race.
Alice Springs is going to have a lot of support due to the fact she’s going to have Ryan Moore on her back, and with Aiden O’Brien training her, it’s obvious to see why punters are going to like her. She’s been making her way up in terms of class, racing in a Group 3, then a Group 2, before finishing third in a Group 1 at the Curragh last time out in the Moyglare Stud Stakes. She’ll like the softer going here, but does have a question mark over her ability to get head head in front. Her form is good, though, and will make many a shortlist.
Bear Cheek won her first two starts before coming up short at Doncaster last time out just a fortnight ago. However, she does have a Group 3 win under her belt, which is looking OK on paper. She does have a bit to find here, and there are others that appeal more.
Besharah is going to be a popular selection tomorrow and it’s not hard to see why. Her win last time out in the Lowther Stakes was impressive, and she beat Lumiere and Easton Angel with that eventually became relative ease. However, the form line through Easton Angel might not be great, as Easton Angel looks to be on the downgrade from Ascot, struggling in Listed Company last time out. But she’ll like the ease in the ground, she’s happy at Newmarket, finishing a close second to Illuminate in her only start here, so she should go well again. However, she might just be a bit over-exposed here, and although I liked her win at York, Easton Angel and Lady Clair have started to ask questions about just how solid that form is.
Illuminate is the horse that all the hype will be around, as she has won three from three, including last time out beating Besharah on this course and distance. The only question she has to answer here is how she’s going to cope with some ease in the ground. The fact she’s been kept under wraps since July is also interesting, as she’s going to be extremely fresh after previously running once a month. If she can handle the ground, she’s in with a huge chance here and with the combination of Richard Hannon and Frankie Dettori taking her to post, all signs are a positive.
Lumiere got caught out by Besharah last time out at York, and it might just have been down to the ease in the ground, which she’s got to compete against here, too. Besharah beat her convincing last time out, and I think Lumiere might just have to try a change in tactics instead of trying to make all, as there are some seriously good horses in this field. As I mentioned previously, the Lowther Stakes form is starting to turn out a bit ropey, so I’d be giving her a bit of a wide berth.
Rebel Surge is a bit out of her depth here with her only win coming in a Class 5 at Lingfield.
Shadow Hunter has run well in Listed company before, but, like Rebel Surge, this is going to be a step too far against some seriously classy fillies.
Sunflower is an interesting one simply because she’s had one run and it was a convincing win at Windsor on September 7th. However, the form of the race isn’t spectacular, with the runner-up, Gravity Flow, losing in a similar race next time out. She should definitely improve from that debut run, but it’s worth just taking a watching brief. Andrew Balding’s two-year-olds aren’t exactly setting the world alight, but they’re not misfiring either, so if she goes well it wouldn’t be a huge surprise, but I think she’ll have a bit to find with some of Britain’s leading fillies.
This race, for me, revolves around Besharah and Illuminate. My preference falls for Illuminate (NAP) for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Illuminate bested Besharah on her last start on this course, which is hard to overlook. Secondly, she’s lightly raced while Besharah has had a hard season and we know how hard that can be for the younger horses. The Lowther isn’t exactly looking like a classic renewal now. Sure, Besharah won handsomly, but Illuminate is not going to be as easy to beat. Finally, the jockey/trainer combination of Hannon and Dettori really appeals and we should see her given every chance.
2:50 Market Rasen
The Prelude Chase is a handicap chase run over 2 miles 5 furlongs and given that right now the ground at Market Rasen is good, it’s going to be an honestly run race which should give us some pointers going forward in these kind of Listed handicap races for the season.
For me, this race is all about Oscar Rock, and if he can reproduce the kind of form he showed at the end of last season, he could make a mockery of the weight here. He was going extremely well in a Group 2 Novice Chase at Ayr in April before coming a cropper. Before that, he had two very convincing wins at Newcastle and Kelso. Market Rasen shouldn’t pose a problem in terms of jumping and he should be in with a great shout.
Grey Hession looks the type that Jonjo O’Neill will try and rack up a few wins on the bounce with, and, again, he might just be well enough in that the handicapper has missed a trick. But his last two races have seen him get up by a neck, he only seemed to do just enough at the last minute. He’ll need every yard of this trip. Jonjo’s horses are flying at the moment, too, which is a nice plus. As I say, my concern is that he does just enough to get up, and it might come back to bite him in the backside.
Cloud Creeper looks very intersting, too, although he hasn’t been seen since May, where he finished second after a string of three wins. He’s a classy sort and should be in he mix come the finish. However, he’s not the best handicapped animal in the field, so I expect him to find one or two better than him.
As I said at the start, for me this is all about Oscar Rock who looked like a very progressive type at the end of last season. Malcolm Jefferson has had only a handful of runners as of late, and this season his strike-rate over fences is exceptional at 40%. This is his kind of race and I’m sure he’s got Oscar Rock read to go.
The Middle Park Stakes is for two year-old colts and is run over 6 furlongs. It’s one of the biggest two-year-old races of the year, and this Group One has an extremely good field going to post for the £102,000 first place. Of course, at the time of writing, Godolphin have a monopoly on the field, more or less, owning over half the field. This might change, but right now it seems like the race will be going to a jockey wearing Godolphin Blue.
Ajaya is William Haggas’ chance of getting on up on Godolphin. He’s a well-raced colt this season, with five runs this season and two wins, the last of which came over Ribchester last time out. Ribchester winning last weekend backs up the quality of Ajaya’s Gimcrack win and he’s surely got to go well here. He’ll like the ground and the trip and if he can handle Newmarket’s undulations, he’s got a huge chance.
Buratino is one of Godolphin’s charges in this race, and is probably seen as their first string in the race, with William Buick taking the ride. His form is nothing to be sniffed at, winning the Coventry at Royal Ascot, beating Air Force Blue home, before Air Force Blue turned things around last time out at the Curragh in the Phoenix. It looks like Buratino is a top of the ground horse, and just love really fast ground. The give in the ground here might just cause him some problems. His run last time out also seemed to look like a bit of regression, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run below par again her.
Madrinho has been running well without finding a win recently in good company, and he’s going to have to do an awful lot more to get past the likes of Shalaa, Ajaya and Burantino. He’ll pick up a smaller race at some point, but he’ll not be picking up the Middle Park.
Rouleau won a competitive Group 3 on the all-weather at Kempton last time out, so is a decent individual, but that’s not the kind of form you want to be taking into the Middle Park with some of the market leaders for the 2016 2,000 Guineas in the field. He could be a bolter at a huge price, but I can’t see it.
Shalaa is the horse this entire race revolves around and quite rightly so. The Prix Morny winner will be going off at a short price here, having won all but one of his five starts. He’s won on all types of ground, from very soft to good-to-firm, so however it comes up at Newmarket, it’s not going to be an issue for him. He’s won twice at Newmarket, so he handles the course. Shalaa just ticks every box imaginable, which is why he’s going to go off at such a short price.
Steady Pace has a lot to find with Shalla and Ajaya and shouldn’t be bothering them come the finish line.
Venturous is the last of Godolphin’s runners and although he has more of a chance than Rouleau and Steady Pace, he might find it hard. He has a win over Madrinho on his book last time out, and also a win at Newmarket two runs ago. I just think Godolphin are putting all their eggs in the Buratino basket here and are trying to set the race up for him. Venturous will pick up a win or two in good company, but this is a huge step up from beating Madrinho at Doncaster.
It looks like a three-horse race, on paper it’s a one-horse race. However, picking apart the form of Ajaya and Shalaa and there is only one horse to back given the prices, Ajaya (NB) has to be the selection here. The form of the Gimcrack has worked out very well, with Ribchester winning a valuable race last week. But what’s interesting is the line of form through Steady Pace. Shalaa had the beating of Steady Pace twice, by four lengths last time they met. However, Ajaya put almost seven lengths between them in the Gimcrack. There are also various lines through the big two-year-old races that just point to Ajaya being a real value selection, while Shalaa is going to be incredibly short and no value at all.
The final race of the day is the Cambridgeshire and it’s one of the biggest handicap races of the year. It’s run over 1 mile 1 furlong and it going to be a charge up the course from a massive field.
Let’s not beat about the bush, this is a complicated puzzle of a race, and, realistically, any one of the field could be taking this cavalry charge home with them. Bronze Angel has done that twice, winning last year’s renewal of the race after winning it in 2012. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Bronze Angel is favourite for the race at the time of writing. Looking at the field, there shouldn’t be any surprises coming out of the pack in terms of improvers – we know what most of the field is capable of. So Bronze Angel deserves his place at the head of the market.
However, we’re not going to be going for last year’s winner. No, instead we’re going to look at a horse that has won over the course quite handily back in May. Musaddas won a competitive handicap back in May at Newmarket, and the form of that race has worked out nicely, with many of the horses that followed Musaddas home continuing to run well at a competitive level. Yes, you could make the same claim for a lot of the field, but that’s the beauty of this race, any horse could win. So I’ve tried to find some value in the field here, and Musaddas each-way definitely looks like a capable horse, with a nice draw and Godolphin would love to claim the Cambridgeshire.
Of course, if you don’t like my selection of Musaddas, you can always just stick a pin in the newspaper and make a selection of two that way. I wouldn’t put you off doing that, of course, but there is a lot to be said for Musaddas and I’m happy with the selection given the trickiness of the Cambridgeshire.
That’s it for our second week of looking at the televised horse racing on Channel 4 in the UK. Again, we’re looking to get some good winners, and if Musaddas can do the business for us in the Cambridgeshire, even better. There are a couple of hot-pot favourites that we hope will get turned over, and if they do, we should be laughing all the way to the cashier’s desk. Please continue letting us know what you think of the horse racing previews, and we’ll be back next week with more.