I always thought that backing Spanish Don to win the 2004 Cambridgeshire at 100/1 was a dream in the aftermath of the race. But, I recently watched the replay again and despite perhaps slightly talking through my pocket, I still rate it one of the best rides I have seen live from Liam Keniry.
But more than that, it gave me an angle into this year’s event.
The key to his victory was Keniry not panicking with racing from way off a red-hot pace and picking his pathway through the pack. There were also some sharp showers before that race and those racing on the stands’ side (high numbers) were favoured, which is normally the case when there is give in the ground on the Rowley Mile course.
I mention that last point because there looks like being at least some give in the ground for this famous 9-furlong cavalry charge and it could well develop into a stands’ side race again, where a double figure box could be a distinct advantage.
Progressive four-year-olds dominate the market and it is hard to know how much more improvement is to come from each of them. But, sometimes these more obvious progressive sorts are over bet and in a race like the Cambridgeshire Handicap latent talent simply isn’t enough.
So, looking from the value angle, I would like to put forward a double wager in this most famous of handicaps.
Ralph Beckett is probably best known for his handling of fillies at the top end of this sport, but is a trainer who can lay one out for a big handicap as well.
Beckett’s LUCANDER has been on my radar since I saw him make his comeback run at Haydock Park in June, going on strongly at the finish when beaten a neck when third of nine behind Strait of Hormuz.
They simply didn’t go quick enough for him on his next start at Newmarket, but he bounced back to form when a cracking winner at York over an extended mile-and-a-quarter in a top-quality handicap on significantly softer ground.
It wasn’t so much the give in the ground which was essential for the son of Footstepsinthesand, it was the fast pace he chased. He will undoubtedly get that scenario here and being a definitive hold-up horse, will probably need a Keniry like ride to find a pathway through the pack.
I still believe that there is plenty of room for improvement off a mark of 98 with this being only his ninth career start. Any more of the forecast rain at Headquarters won’t be a problem and five places up for grabs from a high draw makes him a solid each-way play in my book.
Last year’s winner came into the 2019 renewal off a mark of 98 (reached a peak of 127 when winning at Royal Ascot this year) and this year’s stable rep is Al Rufaa, who is already up to 105. He looks more exposed and to an extent blotted his copy book last time out at Haydock.
However, that event turned into a relative sprint on soft ground and it simply didn’t suit this three-year-old, who has been crying out for an extension in trip.
This will be the first time he has raced over a distance in excess of 7 furlongs and he is bred to relish it being by Kingman out of a Cape Cross mare. Although he looks a tad more exposed than his illustrious stablemate, I fancy he will take another big step forward here.
Of the other entries Good Birthday (third last year) shaped well last weekend at Newbury and is nicely treated on that run, but wouldn’t want too much rain. Meanwhile, French import Walhaan is still hiding his true talent under a bushel and should be well suited to this test.
Light weight Tulfarris also makes the short list at a big price in a race packed with lightly raced entries potentially well weighted.
This is a pretty good renewal of this Group One, but I am going to go against the grain here and oppose Gimcrack Stakes winner Minzaal. Although an impressive winner at York the form of that race has literally fallen apart sine then.
Method is an individual I really like, and he could take another significant step forward here. But, he will need to against SUPREMACY.
I really rate this son of Mehmas very highly and the way he moved through the race in the Richmond Stakes further backs that opinion up. His six rivals never looked like getting to this very well balanced front runner at Goodwood and once Adam Kirby asked him for more, he simply galloped them into the ground.
He also clocked a really good time and I have no doubt that he will handle the undulations at Newmarket.
I cannot really see an edge in either the Royal Lodge Stakes or the Cheveley Park, but the 7-furlong nursery has a lovely betting shape to it and COLORANDO definitely catches the eye.
Many of Marco Botti’s youngsters are initially educated on an artificial surface and three qualifying runs on sand have been progressively promising for this daughter of Territories, culminating in an eye-catching third of 12 at Wolverhampton over 6 furlongs.
This extra yardage should be perfect for her and there shouldn’t be a problem on breeding, switching to turf.
A mark of 69, less her rider’s 5lbs claim, could vastly underestimate her.
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