I hope you were on last week’s E.W. selection in the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Postponed. What a great ride from Andrea Atzeni, undoubtedly one of the most talented pilots riding at the moment. He exploited the Cumani colt’s reserves of stamina and courage to get back up in the shadow of the post and won by the proverbial nose. Speed rather than stamina is the prerequisite for Saturday’s test, and Charlie Hills’ yard which is doing so well with its sprinters this year is the first port of call.
His 4yo Tanzeel, who won with such authority on the Knavesmire last week is of obvious interest with a 6lbs penalty, but is not a definite runner, so perhaps the one to concentrate on is his 3yo Zebedee gelding, Magical Memory. While 3yo winners of the Stewards Cup are something of a rarity in recent years, this can be put down to the paucity of qualifiers in this age group, something that is not a problem for the very progressive Hills 3yo. He was hugely impressive in his last race, a £100,000 Cl2 handicap at Newmarket, which he took in very taking fashion by 2L, earning him a rating of 102, and comfortably qualifying him for Saturday’s contest. Magical Memory is a sprinter going places, and it would be no surprise if he becomes the first of his generation since Danetime in 1997 to lift the cup. One slight caveat would be that all his wins have come on tracks with a stiff uphill finish and it remains to be seen how he copes with Goodwood’s downhill helter skelter course, ( he finished 6th of 12 behind Son of Africa on his only course appearance ). However he seemed to cope well on the Newmarket July course, the early part of which is downhill, so perhaps any concern is misplaced and he is shortlisted.
Roger Charlton has won the race three times, so certainly knows what is required. Two of his three winners have been with 5yo’s, and he is represented by another of that generation, Huntsmans Close on Saturday. Unfortunately he got loose before the Wokingham Stakes, for which he had been strongly fancied, at Royal Ascot, and had to be withdrawn, but did redeem himself a week later when comfortably winning a competitive affair at Windsor. A winner of the Ayr Silver Cup he is very much at home in the hurly burly of these big handicaps and is another for the short list with his nice racing weight of 9st2lbs.
If getting into the race, Peter Chapple-Hyam’s 4yo, Direct Times, would be of considerable interest. Very lightly campaigned, he has only run five times, and has won three of them, last time under Saturday’s pilot, the very promising apprentice Tom Marquand. They easily won a Cl4 Newmarket handicap six weeks ago, carrying the steadier of 9st9lbs. With just 8st2lbs, (including Marquand’s 5lbs claim) on his back, Direct Times will think he’s loose, so although Saturday’s contest represents a huge step up in class, he is seriously considered.
Beaten less than 2L in a class2 5f Ascot handicap last time, and a similar distance in a very competitive 5f heat at the Curragh prior to that, Mike Murphy’s 5yo Discussiontofollow now returns to what is probably his optimum trip in a race that he finished 6th in last year, so is of definite interest.
Richard Fahey’s Tatlisu was backed in to 8/1 for the Wokingham, but disappointed badly, finishing 24th of 25. He ran much better last time off the same Mark (97) as Ascot, finishing 2nd in a Cl2 handicap at Hamilton. Racing off the same mark again at the weekend, and at a course where on his only other appearance he performed well, it would be no surprise at all to see his uber shrewd trainer taking another trophy back to Malton.
Dean Ivory’s 7yo gelding Tropics has been plying his trade at the top level, and indeed went as close to winning in this grade as you can without actually doing so in the July Cup last time. However his rating of 113 gives him a burden of 9st13lbs to carry on Saturday. As no animal, apart from Hoof It, who managed to win with the welter burden of 10st in 2011, has carried more than 9st10lbs in the past thirty seven years, the super game Ivory gelding is reluctantly passed over.
Selection : Magical Memory
E.W. : Huntsmans Close