I hope you were on when Jamie Spencer, brought home the bacon on our selection, Speculative Bid, in last weeks Victoria Cup, at the very rewarding odds of 10/1. On paper at least, Saturday’s Newbury Group1 does seem a slightly easier contest to solve, so here’s hoping we can keep the ball rolling. Since the race was elevated to the top tier in 1995, some strong trends have been evident, not least that fifteen of the last nineteen winners, boasted winning form at Group1 level coming into the contest.
Four year olds have had the best of it in the same period, winning twelve times, with five five year olds, and two six year olds obliging. Considering how few females have contested the race over the past decade, their record has been outstanding. They have won three of the last ten renewals, and significantly , two of them have been trained by Sir. Michael Stoute. Perhaps even more significantly, they have all run in the same colours as Saturday’s entrant, Integral, the red white and blue of Chevely Park Stud.
Integral is a beautifully bred 5yo mare (by Dalakhani out of the Group1 winning mare, Echelon). She had already won two Group1 races against her own sex in a highly successful campaign as a four year old, when coming up short in the Group1 Queen Elizabeth II stakes against the colts. Excuses can be made, as she was unsuited by the testing ground,and may have been over the top anyway. It is very significant that Chevley Park have kept her in training as a 5yo, and considering Sir Michael’s skill with older horses this mare looks the one to beat at the weekend.
Richard Hannon’s 4yo Night of Thunder, the shock winner of last years controversial 2000gns, when coming home 1/2L in front of the brilliant miler, Kingman, failed to hit the back of the net in any of his subsequent four races, but did post some very good efforts. His last run was particularly noteworthy, finishing a slightly unlucky second to the high class Charm Spirit, in the Q.E11 stakes last October. He hasn’t been seen since, but this need not be a problem, as only three of the last ten winners had had a previous run. Top rated, and coming from a yard that has provided three of the last five winners, Night of Thunder must have every chance of getting involved on Saturday.
The highly talented David O’Meara, saddles the 6yo gelding Custom Cut, and like his sire Notnowcato, appears to be improving with age. First off,winning a modest Cork handicap three years ago from a lowly mark of 75, He was rated 117 when comfortably disposing of Here Comes When in a Group2 at Sandown on his reappearance in April. He had that good yardstick Top Notch Tonto, 4 1/2L further back at Sandown, strongly suggesting that further progress had been made over the winter, so his odds of 12/1 at the time of writing represent some value.
Whatever ailed the 4yo Oasis Dream colt, Mooharib who hung so badly when finishing third in this years Lincoln handicap, his very capable trainer Marco Botti ironed out before his next appearance. He absoloutly hosed up in a listed race at Ascot, four weeks after Doncaster, cruising up to the leaders, quickening clear, and then eased back to beat Hors de Combat with consummate ease. Another rapidly improving animal, it isn’t too difficult to see him being involved at the weekend.
One of the few winners at Group1 level in Saturday’s contest, the 4yo Toormore, the second Hannon runner, needs considering. His Group1 success came as a two year old in the 7f National stakes at the Curragh which He won easily and ended the season crowned Europe’s top two year old. His 3yo career started very promisingly with a facile win in the Craven stakes from the top class The Great Gadsby, but was subsequently most disappointing until showing signs of a revival in the Q.E.11 at the end of the season. Here,starting at 25/1, He took a fierce hold, and still fighting Kieran Fallon for his head was dropped to last two furlongs out. He ran on and despite having too much to do finished a very respectable third, beaten 1/2L and 1/2L by Charm Spirit, and his stable companion Night of Thunder. He has clearly had his problems, but coming from this yard it would be no surprise to see a reformed character on Saturday.
E.W. : Toormore