Irish raider Sceptical has been a revelation this season for Cloughjordan conjuror Denis Hogan, winning three times on the Emerald Isle, including in the Listed Woodlands Stakes at Naas last month, before going off a furiously-backed favourite for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The money was nearly justified as Italian stallion Frankie Dettori hit the front on the Exceed And Excel gelding just over a furlong out, but the pair were headed and lost two places close home to go down a wafer-thin third and save the bookies bundles as Dettori had already partnered three winners that day.
The jury is still out whether Hogan’s speed-ball is more of a 5f animal, but punters have been more than happy to give him another chance over 6f and forgive the Ascot reversal. He has now halved in price into second-favourite for the July Cup from as big as 6/1 at one time.
Suffolk sorcerer William Haggas’s charge also ran in that Diamond Jubilee Stakes, but could only muster a sixth behind winner Hello Youmzain and although she does currently still hold an entry in the July Cup, she looks likely to line up in the previous day’s Falmouth Stakes.
You’d have to say that seven furlongs looks the Fastnet Rock mare’s best trip as she has scooped the last two renewals of the Prix de la Foret over that trip at Longchamp on Arc day so she’s between a bit of a rock and a hard place when it comes to distance.
But punters clearly think One Master has got a right chance over the mile in the Falmouth and she’s into 3/1 from 5/1 to go one better than last year when beaten a neck by Veracious in the same top-class contest.
Another Suffok sorcerer Roger Varian enjoyed a fine Royal Ascot and backers seem to think he can produce more of the same at his local track courtesy of the lightly-raced Lord Campari.
Charles Hills’s Tilsit is 7/2 second-favourite for the Sir Henry Cecil which is the same price as we once were with this fellow, but he’s now into 15/8 favourite with punters hoping to raise a glass of Campari to the Italian liqueur’s namesake on Thursday evening.
Their fancy put in a reasonable debut effort last season when sixth behind subsequent St James’s Palace Stakes hero Palace Pier in a seven-furlong maiden at Sandown in August.
He’d clearly benefitted from that experience when landing a novice stakes at Newbury last month over a furlong further, running on well to easily master Tsar by four and three-quarter lengths, a performance which shouted at being well capable in this higher grade.
Tom Clover is a trainer whose name won’t be familiar to all readers, but this young man is doing very well and his Holy Kingdom has been backed as if he’ll go very close in this 1m 6f contest halving in price to 4/1 from 8/1.
The four-year-old is chasing a hat-trick at Newmarket, having won a handicap over two furlongs less last month, before following up over this distance, albeit he did just fail to catch Volcanic Sky who was first past the post, but this lad was subsequently awarded the race.
He’s gone up 10lb in the handicap since the first of those two victories at HQ, but his supporters obviously believe he’s still got a little bit more up his sleeve and if he does complete the three-timer, it will be no surprise to see him enjoying a well-earned tilt at Listed company next time.
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