The Group One Falmouth Stakes at 16:10 takes pride of place at Newmarket on Friday, but otherwise it is handicap city at HQ on day two of the July Festival.
My first port of call will be the 1m 6f handicap at 15.00 where I expect the light weights, Cape Coast and Christopher Wood to run well, but at a massive price I think German import ERNESTO could outrun his odds in a race where Paddy is paying the first 5 home if 16 or more run.
Not far off the placed horses in the German Leger last year, he has since been transferred to the shrewd Ian Williams and ran a whole lot better than his finishing position of 10th of 16 in the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot suggests.
That run should have brought him on a bundle and with the ground again in his favour he looks a massively-priced player off a mark of 101.
My second runner of interest on Friday’s card is a little more modestly priced in another massive handicap and closer to the top of the market, namely BREANSKI. He won twice last year at this trip and a recent third-placed finish should put him spot on for a big run for the Jedd O’Keefe yard who is having a fine season. Again Paddy is paying the first 5 home if 16 or more runners leave the stalls.
However, my best bet of the extended weekend is in the Ebor Trial Handicap at the Curragh 19:45 on Friday night. This is high class stuff with former Irish Derby hero Latrobe set to carry top weight off a mark of 111 and the likes of Max Dynamite, Trossachs and the highly-progressive but far from confirmed stayer, Mirann, in the line up.
But the value could be with DALTON HIGHWAY who ran away with a two-mile handicap at the back end of June and will not be at all inconvenienced by the step back in trip here under the promising claimer Gavin Ryan.
I called Richard Hannon last week and rather bravely suggested to him that Threat would be the perfect type to drop in distance, due to his high cruising speed and not seeing out the mile of the St James’s Palace Stakes, and would be worth a dabble in the July Cup.
Now Mr Hannon has trained Classic and Group winners galore so who was I to try and suggest where this striking son of Footstepsinthesand should run next?
With a slight hint if disdain in his voice, Richard replied: “No, we will keep him over further I still think he will stay a mile and he could go to France next.”……..deadly silence followed until my retort of: “Thank you for your time Richard and good luck.”
And so the story unfolds that on Tuesday connections had a massive change of mind, partly due to the likely soft ground in France, but rather more fancifully I thought it may have been due to Richard having slept on my opinion of the horse, and deciding to change tack. I can’t wait to speak to RH again!
I will be wholly surprised if THREAT does not turn out to be a sprinter. He settles well, has a high cruising speed and at six furlongs on a sound surface this youngster has a tidy turn of foot to boot.
Of course he has a bit to find with the market leader, Golden Horde, on Richmond Stakes’ form and the latter has gone on to win the Commonwealth Cup, but Threat could still bridge that gap down in trip. Anything around 8/1 would get my each-way juices flowing in the July Cup on Saturday @ 15.35.
And so onto Saturday and one of my favourite handicaps of the year, the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket (16.10). The two Hamdam Al Maktoum entries head the market and both could still be well treated, but the equally lightly raced WISE COUNSEL will do for me.
Three from nine on turf, all with a wee bit of juice in the ground, his comeback run in the Listed Cathedral Stakes was a very satisfactory starter and with a lovely middle draw here.
I will be having a major each-way play at double figure odds.
PLATITUDE also qualifies for a value punt in the 14 furlong handicap at Ascot (13.30) and with the drying ground in his favour, while ARECIBO can make up for his unlucky passage at Doncaster last week by going close in the heritage sprint handicap at 15.50 at the Berkshire track.
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