The Oddsguru’s E.W. selection, Golden Birthday, put up a really impressive front running performance to take last Saturday’s Quadpot Handicap Hurdle at Newton Abbot. He was six pounds higher than when winning very easily at the same venue over shorter a month earlier, and demonstrated an abundance of stamina. He is a half brother to the ill fated, multiple Grade1 winning Golden Silver, who, trained by Willie Mullins, did all his racing over fences at around two miles. Presumably Harry Fry’s exciting six year old’s long term career, with his proven stamina, will be in the staying chase department, but in the meantime he could well pick up another similar contest over the smaller obstacles, if getting his preferred good ground. Haydock Park’s Group1 Sprint Cup on Saturday provides a test at the other end of the racing spectrum and at the time of writing it is Clive Cox’s talented three year old, Harry Angel, that heads the market.
The son of Dark Angel was making only is fifth racecourse appearance when beaten 3/4L by Caravaggio in the Group1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, but emphatically turned the form around, twenty three days later when stylishly taking the Group1 July Cup at Headquarters. While winners of the Newmarket Group1 haven’t the best of records in Haydock’s feature, it’s worth noting that Harry Angel’s CV includes a Group2 successs(course record) over course and distance in the Sandy Lane Stakes last May. With plenty of rain about his win on an easy surface in last year’s Group2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury could also prove relevant.
Another who shouldn’t be inconvenienced by soft ground is the Willie Haggas trained Tasleet as he hosed up in The Group2 Duke of York Stakes on soft ground in May, beating Saturday’s opponent Magical Memory by 2 1/2L. He was a tad unlucky to lose out by a neck to The Tin Man in the Group1 Golden Jubilee Stakes next time, and most recently was a big disappointment when finishing tenth in The July Cup. However excuses can be made as he took a fierce hold in a race lacking pace in the early stages. With conditions likely to be in his favour at the weekend he is definitely worth considering.
Another who will handle soft ground is last year’s Ayr Gold Cup winner, Brando. Always considered a potential Group1 horse by his very talented trainer, Kevin Ryan (pictured above) he showed that he was heading in the right direction when winning a Newmarket Group3 on his reappearance in April. He was sent off the 5/2fav for the Duke of York the following month but unfortunately bled and finished twelfth. Considering the travails of the yard, following a stable wide infection with the dreadful Equine Herpes Virus, it was a superb effort by an unready Brando to finish third,(1 3/4L behind Harry Angel) in The July Cup, nearly nine weeks later. The son of Pivotal was able to show his true colours three weeks later, when winning the 6 1/2f Group1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. A course and distance winner on soft ground Brando looks as if he is still improving, and we may not yet have seen the best of him.
Last years Gimcrack winner and Dewhurst third, Blue point made a winning reappearance, beating Harry Angel by 1 1/2L in May, but was 1/2L behind the Cox horse seven weeks later in The Commonwealth Cup when finishing third. The son of Shamardal found the ground too firm that day and returned jarred up. He hasn’t been seen since but is an animal who goes well after a break so is not one to lightly dismiss, particularly if the weather improves.
Having won the 2012 renewal with Society Rock, James Fanshawe knows what is required, and tries again with last year’s runner up The Tin Man. Twice a winner at the top grade, he was well beaten on his reappearance in The Duke of York but had clearly benefited from the run when winning The Diamond Jubilee Stakes five weeks later. Failing to get any cover from his outside draw in the July Cup he was well beaten, but that second to the flying filly Quiet Reflection on soft ground in last year’s race is surely significant, and it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise if Mr Fanshawe landed his second Sprint Cup with this son of Equiano.
The Charlie Hills trained Magical Memory was third in a blanket finish for the 2015 renewal, but was out with the washing last year. He has put in some decent efforts this term including a course and distance win in July and a Group3 success at Newbury. He has yet to break through at the top level but trainer Hills is quite hopeful of his chances, and you never know, it may be a case of third time lucky.
E.W. : Tasleet