The re-modelled Future Champions Day at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile provides the main filling in Saturday afternoon’s Channel 4 televised banquet, and though I’ll be heading over the Severn Bridge for a much needed taste of National Hunt action at Chepstow, there ought to be a couple of winners to be unearthed on a tricky looking card at HQ.
The Flat boys kick off at 2.05pm with the Group 2 Burj Khalifa Challenge Stakes, a contest which hopefully isn’t too hard to unravel as I’m a backer of Strong Suit for Richards Hughes and Hannon.
The 6/4 market leader for Saturday’s opener was an emphatic scorer in Glorious Goodwood’s Group 2 Lennox Stakes last time out, a contest which has produced two subsequent winners and which on this occasion underlined this Rahy colt’s undoubted potential.
That win built on his June win in Royal Ascot’s Jersey Stakes (G3), results which sandwiched a fine (and it has to be said unlucky) third in Chantilly’s Group 1 Prix Jean Prat.
Strong Suit goes on the ground, acts on the track, and crucially comes here a fresh horse.
Let’s hope that can put some funds in the bank as things take on a distinctly tougher complexion half an hour later, with 16 juveniles lining up in the Group 1 Emaar Middle Park Stakes over six furlongs at 2.35pm.
This is wide open, but it’s just possible that some of these fancied horses such as Bapak Chinta and Rebellious Guest might be undone by meeting this faster ground for the first time (Good to Firm at the time of writing).
France are represented by a very exciting colt in the shape of Family One, a son of Dubai Destination who has won four of his six starts and found only Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Dabirism too hot to handle in the Morny last time out.
He definitely ought to be in the mix, but on the downside he’s a baby and has to make a long journey overseas for the first time.
Of the home team Alan McCabe’s Caspar Netscher will be the choice for many punters at home and on the track.
His recent form is tremendous and more than suggests he’s up for a crack at the top level, having taken both the Gimcrack and the Mill Reef since mid-August, but you also have to consider he’s seen plenty of sport for one so young (this is his ninth appearance since May!).
All of which leads me back to a Royal Applause colt from a slightly less fashionable stable, with James Toller’s Saigon catching my eye at a juicy 20/1 each way with Ladbrokes.
He’s got less miles on the clock but some interesting history with Caspar Netscher: in three meetings to date the score between them stands at 2-1 to Alan McCabe’s horse, but Saigon is proven on the surface and has never run a bad race.
I put him up as a bet in the Mill Reef when he finished third, three quarters of a length adrift of his rival, but Johnny Murtagh takes over in the saddle, and at big odds he hasn’t got that much to find on official figures (BHA rating of 106) to trouble the principals.
Two wins from five appearances isn’t too shabby a record, with only one of those runs seeing him finish outside the first three, plus it includes a pair of Group placings.
Perhaps Caspar has improved a good deal since going down to Saigon in July, but not to the extent that Saigon should now be nearly four times his price.
In a contest that’s hard to gauge I’m happy to plump for what appeals to me as a spot of value – with that in mind a spot of the 20’s with Ladbrokes, who go 1/4 odds 1-2-3 each way, will do nicely.
I’m not going to bore you with a debate on the perceived wisdom, or lack of, in running the seven furlong Dewhurst 35 minutes after the Middle Park, but if it’s not to your taste console yourself by trying to relieve your friendly neighbourhood turf accountant of a few quid to lighten the mood.
I couldn’t see past the Futurity winner Dragon Pulse when he lined up in the National Stakes at the Curragh four weeks ago, but the sight of Aidan O’Brien’s Power mowing him down in the latter stages of the seven furlong Group 1 is indelibly scrawled on my memory, and for that reason alone I’m very happy to back him at 100/30 with William Hill.
The presence of the unbeaten pair Bronterre and Ektihaam mean we get an inflated price given what Power has already achieved, but they’ll need to be seriously good to beat this fella, who has only tasted defeat once in a five race career.
Power has Ryan Moore up top, has won twice on Good to Firm, and overcame stamina doubts with a strong galloping performance at this trip last time out. Win bet.
From the sublime to the congested at 3.50pm, with the Betfred Cesarewitch posing a head scratcher even a knit-infested Hercule Poirot would struggle to contend with, as 34 go to post for the two and a quarter mile handicap.
I think I might have one to go to war with though, and a quick glance at the stats provides a handy bit of reassurance – two years ago Darley Sun stuck one in the net for the three year olds in this race, and in 2011 I fancy the only member of the Classic generation in the field to do likewise, with Mark Johnston’s Colour Vision well worth a nibble each way at 25/1 with any of Boylesports, Paddy Power or Victor Chandler.
He gets a meaty weight allowance from the older horses, hacked up over this trip on similar ground at Pontefract last time, has the best of the draw in stall six and hails from a yard who won this with Contact Dancer in 2004.
Saturday’s best bets:
2.35 Newmarket – Emaar Middle Park Stakes – 13 Saigon (each way) @ 20/1 (Ladbrokes)
3.10 Newmarket – Dubai Dewhurst Stakes – 6 Power (win) @ 10/3 (William Hill)