I suspect it may be some time before F. Berry gets the leg up on another Chapple-Hyam horse after the ride he gave last week’s selection, Buckstay, in the Ayr Gold Cup. Held up out the back with the washing, he had to come from an impossible position, but finished best of all, going down by less than a length in fifth place. Not one of Fran’s greatest rides! Having got that off our chest let’s have a look at Saturday’s cavalry charge at Newmarket.
Weight as we know is a great leveller, and only one horse, (Educate, 9st9lbs, 2013) has defied a burden above 9st5lbs since Cap Juluca won with the steadier of 9st12lbs twenty years ago. Indeed thirteen winners in the same period carried less than 9st. As always in these big handicaps, plenty of experience of racing in large fields is a must. An ability to stay further than Saturday’s nine furlongs is a definite plus with many previous winners having form over ten furlongs and further on their C.V.’s. A decent performance in their most recent outing has been of paramount significance, with hardly any of the last thirty five winners failing to perform in their penultimate race. With thirty five runners spread across Newmarket Heath you would expect the draw to be of some significance, but this has rarely been the case, and indeed in last years renewal the shd second was drawn on the other side of the track to the winner.
That winner, the now 6yo Bronze Angel, tries for an unprecedented third win in the one hundred and seventy six years old handicap. The 2012, and 2013 winner, does thrive in the Autumn, and showed his treble aspirations were no forlorn hope when winning a Doncaster handicap last time off a mark of 104. Ridden by 3lbs claimer, Louis Steward, he won by 1 1/2L from that good yardstick Man Of Harlech. As his two previous wins were achieved off 95 and 99 he does seem to be up against it off his new mark of 108, but the Newmarket race does seem to bring out the best in him, so this 6yo warrior is not easily passed over.
Sir Michael Stoute’s 5yo gelding Abseil catches the eye. He looked a tad unlucky last time at Epsom in June over 1m1/2f when racing off a mark of 99 he finished a nk and 3/4L behind Grazie, and Andrew Baldings filly Merry Me. As the Balding filly has gone on to aquit herself well at listed and pattern level, the lightly raced Abseil, who meets Merry Me on 4lbs better than Epsom, doesn’t look badly treated off a mark of 100. His run at Epsom suggested that further would suit, and as he clearly goes well after a break, is short listed.
Michael Halford’s 3yo Teofilo colt Portage won a Cl2 Ascot handicap in July off a mark of 90 (1m sft) and ran a decent race last time at the Curragh, finishing second to the 5yo Hint of a Tint, with the useful Brendan Bracken back in fifth, off a mark of 98. Set to race off the same mark at the weekend, giving him a nice racing weight of 8st7lbs, and with William Buick in the plate he looks another well worth considering.
David O’Meara’s 5yo Dylan Thomas gelding, Earth Drummer ran well when finishing 6th in a 1m2 1/2f, fifteen runner, York handicap last time out. He looked to have a chance at the furlong post but probably didn’t quite get home and went down by 4L. In his previous race at Ascot over 8f he was beaten a half length by Halation, whom he meet on a pound better terms on Saturday. His very talented trainer may well feel that Saturday’s intermediate trip will suit,and with stable jockey Tudhope up, is another well worth considering.
Can Richard Fahey cap a great season by winning with his progressive 3yo gelding Third Time Lucky? Rated 91 after a close fourth in a Goodwood handicap at the end of July he probably needed to win at Thirsk three weeks ago to get into Saturday’s contest and did so in style. Leading on the bit over a furlong out, he went clear, and despite being heavily eased in the closing stages was still 3 1/2L clear at the line. Saturday’s examination will obviously be rather more rigorous, but clearly the Fahey gelding is on a sharp upward curve and with his light weight of 8st4lbs, it will be no surprise if he adds to the Malton Maestro’s burgeoning C.V.
Selection : Abseil.
E.W. : Third Time Lucky.