Thursday, 12 July 2012

Day 1 of the Newmarket July Meeting

Day one of the July Festival sees a small field go to post for the Princess of Wales's Goldsmiths Stakes, with Red Cadeaux and Harris Tweed vying for favouritism at the time of writing.
The former deserves all the prize money he collects as he continues to run consistently well, at a level only just shy of top-class.
Ed Dunlop's six-year-old ran a fine race at Epsom when second to St Nicholas Abbey and backed that up with a staying-on third in the Hardwicke Stakes, when three of these were behind.
But carrying a penalty makes life extremely tough and for all that he's sure to run his usual, honest race, he's there to be beaten at the price.
Sir Michael Stoute's record in the race is second to none and it's perhaps too early to be giving up on Fiorente, but underfoot conditions may not be to his liking and he's a bit of an underachiever as things stand.
Instead, the one I like is JAKKALBERRY, who is surely no 13/2 chance on the best of his form.
He was fifth in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot, just over four lengths behind Red Cadeaux, but receives a 3lb pull in the weights here.
Considering that was his first run since March, it's perfectly reasonable to expect improvement, and a return to the form that saw him third in the Dubai Sheema Classic would give him every chance here.
That day he was around three lengths behind St Nicholas Abbey, and a line through that horse gives him the beating of Red Cadeaux on these terms.
Jakkalberry's trainer Marco Botti was pleased with his Ascot effort, especially considering he felt that his horse didn't enjoy the track and will be better suited by Newmarket's test.
This race has been the target since and while bottomless ground is considered less than ideal, the six-year-old has form in the book that suggests he's better-equipped than most should it get really testing.
Australian-owned, Jakkalberry's long-term target is the Melbourne Cup but this race looks an ideal mid-season stepping-stone and at 13/2 he's worth chancing to beat two consistent but vulnerable yardsticks.
Razorbill looks the one to beat in the Goldsmiths Handicap which precedes the aforementioned feature.
Trained by Charlie Hills, this colt's maiden form looks very strong and he's set to go up 4lbs in future after a fine handicap debut at Windsor, one which saw him finish second over a mile on fast ground.
This step-up in trip looks certain to unlock more improvement and he could rate a good deal higher come the end of the season, but these conditions represents a step into the unknown and he's a short enough price.
Indeed, market leaders have a very poor record in this race with only one winning favourite over the past decade, while just two of the victors had won their previous start.
With that in mind I'm siding with two who finished behind another of the fancied runners, Fennell Bay, when he won the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot, starting with his stable companion PRUSSIAN.
Mark Johnston's filly made a winning handicap debut in May before flopping at Nottingham, a race her trainer felt we could draw a line through as she failed to give her running.
His words were proved to be correct as she gamely battled to victory at Redcar before finishing down the field at Royal Ascot.
That, though, was her first try at a mile-and-a-half and she wasn't given a hard time once hampered when threatening to get on the heels of the leaders, so it's certainly a performance we can forgive.
Prussian has been subsequently dropped a pound which means she's just 2lbs higher than when winning at Redcar, and her trainer's record with big-priced runners in this race means she deserves utmost respect.
Johnston saddled a 16/1 fourth last year, an 11/1 fourth in 2010, a 7/2 second in 2009, a 25/1 fourth in 2008, a 25/1 winner in 2007 (stone last at Ascot prior) and a 20/1 third in 2005.
The form of the yard is something of a worry, but the price more than compensates for that and Johnston is a past-master at priming his horses for these valuable handicaps.
With last year's winning rider Kieren Fallon aboard and conditions absolutely ideal, she looks overpriced at 25/1.
Similarly, it might be worth chancing SAMBA KING at 33/1 after he too finished behind Fennell Bay at Royal Ascot.
His trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni has a 22 percent strike-rate with his three-year-olds at the track, and that enhances the belief that his top-weight could bounce back and cause an upset with ground conditions ideal.
If we ignore that Ascot run in a messy race over a different trip, Samba King was previously two lengths ahead of Fennell Bay in a course-and-distance contest won by Thomas Chippendale, who went on to win in Pattern company at the Royal meeting.
He travelled just as well as the winner to the two-furlong pole that day before being understandably put in his place, but he was just a head off second and with no Thomas Chippendale in the race makes clear appeal off the same mark.
Understandably, Mikael Barzalona chooses stablemate Greek War but he's gone up a stone for winning on different ground last time and if Samba King can return to the form he showed on his penultimate start, he's no 33/1 chance here.


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