A cracking day’s action lies ahead with juvenile Group One contests to determine the pecking order heading into winter quarters while the annual cavalry charge of the Cambridgeshire signals the true start of autumn.
The Group One Cheveley Park Stakes looks right up to standard with some very talented fillies lining up.
Meditate lost her unbeaten record to the hugely exciting Tahiyra at the Curragh a fortnight ago, but time may tell that was a tall order and she pulled well clear of the remainder in the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes. She won at Royal Ascot and convincingly at Group 2 level this season and sets the standard for Aidan O’Brien.
However, I am a huge fan of TRILLIUM, who officially is just 1lb Meditate’s inferior, and she looks sure to improve again for moving back up to six furlongs. She broke the track record when wining the Molecomb at Goodwood, a record that stood for half an hour before Prix De L’Abbaye bound The Platinum Queen broke it in the following race. That pair clashed at Doncaster a fortnight ago with TRILLIUM just getting up by the smallest of margins at the line. That doesn’t tell the whole story as Richard Hannon’s filly was keen early and needed every yard to get up. The stiff sixth furlong should suit her well off a decent pace and after Group 3 and 2 successes, she can dine at the top table for the first time.
The form of Swingalong’s Lowther success was let down by Queen Me at Ayr last Saturday, while Lezoo is held by Meditate on a line through Mawj who also must improve to topple the market leaders.
Again, Aidan O’Brien looks to have the standard bearer in the Group One Middle Park Stakes courtesy of Blackbeard who landed the Prix Morny at the expense of Persian Force in Deauville five weeks ago. That is the best form being brought into this contest and that pair have been running in top company all season. They will be having their seventh career starts on Saturday though and there is the scope for one of the lighter raced juveniles to improve past them.
Chief amongst those would be MARSHMAN after his second placed effort to Noble Truth in the Gimcrack at York. That was a big step up on his Thirsk Novice success, but he has always been held in high regard.
He made a big move to skip clear between two and one furlong out on the Knavesmire but was just run down close home by the talented Godolphin charge. He is being lined up for the Dewhurst and MARSHMAN still looked a little green in the closing stages. Six furlongs looks perfect for him at present and he can take another big step forward on just his fourth start and get back to winning ways.
Godolphin will rely on Mischief Magic in this contest, but he needs to improve again on his Group 3 Sirenia Stake success at Kempton. While that isn’t inconceivable, others have achieved more in fewer starts.
The annual cavalry charge that is the Cambridgeshire, although ‘only’ 29 will go to post, six shy of a full field. The last six winners have been drawn 21 or higher (three of the last ten winners were drawn in stall 21).
Mujtaba has been all the rage since dancing to victory at Doncaster earlier this month and a 4lb penalty means he is 3lb ‘well in’. If the handicapper could reassess him, he would be carrying an extra 3lb, so his chance is obvious. He was a disappointing favourite in the Lincoln in March and likewise at Chester’s May meeting but showed the benefit of a break when winning cosily over ten furlongs on Town Moor. He will have his supporters for ‘Team Baaeed’.
Obviously, there are a myriad of chances and all firms will pay extra places for each way bets.
Ouzo just missed out on the staking plan and would be third choice. He has gained place money for us twice recently, at Glorious Goodwood and at York. He has been dropped 2lb, has the in form and confident Saffie Osborne aboard and has a high draw in 25. The only drawback is he is yet to win over this far and was well beaten on his two starts at ten furlongs.
The two that do make the list are PROTAGONIST and LUCANDER.
PROTAGONIST is seeking a hat-trick after running down Savvy Victory at Doncaster in July for a nose success before showing battling qualities to beat Dual Identity (2lb better off for three quarters of a length) at Sandown. He is a stablemate of the favourite, having just three starts for William Haggas since switching from Jessica Harrington’s yard in Ireland. He has won over further, even trying his hand at hurdling before heading to Newmarket and looks set to take a major hand in the finish under Tom Marquand.
LUCANDER already has previous here, having finished second to Majestic Dawn in 2020. He runs off the same mark here and connections reach for the blinkers for the first time. He was only eleventh in last years contest, but he was under pressure a long way out and stuck on, ending up down the middle of the track which was the worst place to be. His last two efforts at York, a place he likes, weren’t devoid of promise, again sticking on under pressure and this will be just his fifth start of the season. Rossa Ryan is a positive booking for Ralph Becket and he can outrun his price of around 25/1.
The 2.05 Haydock is a competitive mile handicap, but I can’t let AUDITOR go unbacked under Sean Levey. The jockey will certainly have the bit between his teeth after missing a few days of action following a false positive drug test and the 3yo’s form is on an upward trajectory.
Back-to-back wins at Newmarket were followed by a fine second at Newbury, where he looked to have the race won but for the late burst of Atrium close home. The winner has followed up and is now rated 100, so off a mark of 93 AUDITOR should still have a bit of room to manoeuvre. He disappointed on his only outing on soft ground, but that was over six furlongs and at Chester, so may not have been the contributing factor. His sire handled soft ground well, so there is hope he will too and at around 8/1, is worth following.
Montassib was an excellent fourth in the Bunbury Cup but couldn’t convert an easier task at Ascot seven weeks ago while Encouragable was a winner last time out but his rookie trainer, James Horton had a few runners disappoint in the last week or so.
Akhu Najla, a 2.7m guineas half-brother to 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold is the danger for the red hot Roger Varian team. He was third in listed company back in May and make his handicap debut on just his fourth start after a four month absence.
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