The good horses may already be beginning to appear in the infancy of the Jumps season, with Moon Racer and Ballyandy – the last two winners of the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival clashing over hurdles at Perth on Thursday, something brilliantly flagged up by the highly recommended @CheltenhamNews Twitter account, but it’s to Newmarket we head this weekend for two televised days at the Cambridgeshire Meeting.
Group races aplenty combined with highly valuable, big field rat-a-tat-tat handicaps, Newmarket, the HQ of British Flat racing, is the place to be if you enjoy the Flat at this time of year…
For yours truly, fuelled by what may very well be the East of England’s finest curry on Thursday night, Channel 4’s coverage gets rolling on Friday afternoon with a two and a half hour live offering, featuring a brace of listed races ands a pair of Group 2’s.
In the first if those Group events, only two of the last 10 favourites have prevailed in the Rockfel (3.05pm), in which the 2016 version is headed at the top of the betting by Roger Charlton’s evens shot Fair Eva, who tasted defeat for the first time when going down to Queen Kindly at York last month (she runs at Newmarket on Saturday in the Group 1 Cheveley Park).
Charlton will be hoping Fair Eva can set down a marker for next year’s 1,000 Guineas – indeed since 1988 four fillies have completed the Rockfel/Guineas double – and at present she is available at a best price of 8/1 with both Ladbrokes and Coral for next year’s fillies’ Classic.
It’s a tough one to call, and in the absence of a really strong opinion I’m going to instead flag up some value in the later Joel Stakes at 3.40pm, an open looking renewal of the £109,000 contest.
Dropping in class, John Gosden’s Group 1 performer Nathra will be popular here under Frankie combined with her fillies’ allowance, but there could be some mileage in taking her on with the Hugo Palmer runner, 113-rated Gifted Master.
Available at 9/1 in a six horse race, he’s top-rated and has lots of encouraging form, kicking off this season with wins at Newmarket and Ascot, before going off the red hot favourite at 5/4 for a Group 2 at Haydock Park.
If we knew then what we know now we’d have said it was a great run to finish third to Quiet Reflection, since when Gifted Master has been placed at Glorious Goodwood and tried his hand in Group 1 company in France.
Back down to Group 2 level, with William Buick on board (he’s unbeaten on Gifted Master) he looks over priced, and that’s before you factor in his form here at Newmarket!
His figures on the Rowley Mile in five career outings are a formidable 12111, and in a race where he gets weight from the older horses that looks encouraging to say the least.
Most firms are 8/1 but Coral go 9’s at the time of writing.
Later on, one race which isn’t on C4 but definitely wouldn’t look out of place, is the listed mile and a half Mukhadram Godolphin’s Stakes at 5.25pm.
It’s a really tricky one to call, but note the stable form of the Wiliam Haggas team, who run Dal Harraild – in the fortnight to the close of play on Wednesday they’d had an astonishing 21 winners in that 14 day period alone!
Hats off to Mr Haggas and respect to his runner, but my vote goes to the John Gosden’s inmate, Furia Cruzada.
The three-time Grade 1 winner in South America, she’s yet to strike in Europe, but to be fair has operated at a very high level and posted some excellent form in defeat, notably at Royal Ascot and Haydock Park.
Dropping in class, this can be her time to strike.
Friday’s best bets at Newmarket:
3.40 – Shadwell Joel Stakes – 5 Gifted Master (each way) @ 9/1 (Coral)
5.25 – Mukhadram Godolphin’s Stakes – 4 Furia Cruzada (win) @ 5/1 with bet365Posted 1 year, 9 months ago