Friday morning at 7am in Newbury.
The ground is officially Good prior to the track’s two day feature meeting, the crown jewels of which are Saturday’s Group 2 Betfred Hungerford Stakes, as well as the same day’s Group 3 Geoffrey Freer.
A look out of the window suggests that just as Andrew Balding’s wishes are being met, fellow trainer Henry Candy’s hopes have been dashed.
Both had heavyweight names prominent in the betting for Saturday’s Hungerford (3.45pm, live on Channel 4), but while Balding wants it wet for 115-rated Here Comes When, his counterpart wanted the sun to put its hat on and scorch the turf to suit his 115-rated Limato, who sadly was declared a non-runner of Friday afternoon.
Frustratingly for Candy, though, the forecast is for it to dry up later, in Irish parlance it’s been “lashing” down for the past 24 hours and the changing ground forced the Oxfordshire based handler not to take any chances with his runner.
Both had just the one runner in Saturday’s £150,000 renewal of the seven furlong Group 2, a very strong running which had initially attracted a field of 16.
It’s chock full of possibilities, with old adversary Adaay stepping up in trip, Here Comes When steps down from this year’s usual mile, recent course and distance scorer Windfast looks to follow up, while the reliable Safety Check tries to add to his excellent Lennox Stakes placed effort at Glorious Goodwood, as fascinating contender Richard Pankhurst dips his toe into some very deep water on just his third ever start.
The original pick for this race going to be the Hugo Palmer trained Home Of The Brave but after failing to eat up at lunch on Friday, Palmer was left with no option but to withdraw the three-year-old son of Starspangledbanner, from the race.
The preference therefore is for the aforementioned Here Comes When, who has been promoted to 7/2 favourite following the omissions of Home Of The Brave and Limato. The Andrew Balding yard has enjoyed a fantastic season to date and whilst the pick hasn’t been to the winners enclosure’ so far in 2015, he’s put up some credible efforts.
The five-year-old was last seen finishing fourth behind Solow at Goodwood last month and he was far from disgraced when finishing just under three lengths behind Night Of Thunder in the Group 1, Lockinge Stakes, at Newbury in May, whilst his best form has come over seven furlongs, boasting three wins from eight runs over Saturday’s distance. His last three victories have come with ‘soft’ in the going and as such, he’s worth taking a punt on at the 7/2 on offer with Bet365
Earlier in the afternoon the extended 1m 5f Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2.35pm) provides another enjoyable puzzle to try and unravel, with the sponsors early prices putting in last year’s St Leger second Romsdal as their 5/2 market leader, with Sir Michael Stoute’s Gospel Choir snapping at his heels on 11/4.
Neither has won as much prize money as as Red Cadeaux however, with the now nine-year-old globetrotter perched on £4.99m career earnings.
He was second in this in 2013, and fourth a year ago – a repeat of either effort would carry him through the incredible five million barrier.
He doesn’t appeal as a possible winner though, unlike Gospel Choir, who has returned from an injury layoff this summer seemingly better than ever.
Last year’s Yorkshire Cup hero got the job done in listed company at Newmarket in June, before running a mighty race when half a length and a head behind Big Orange in a Group 2 at the July Meeting.
That’s the same Big Orange who went on to win the Goodwood Cup a fortnight ago, giving the form a rock solid outlook.
In-form Frankie Dettori takes over from injured Ryan Moore, and looks like he could be on a winner.
Saturday’s best bets at Newbury:
2.35 – Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes – 4 Gospel Choir (win) @ 11/4 (Betfred) *Non Runner
3.45 – Betfred Hungerford Stakes – 12 Here Comes When @ 7/2 (bet365)