Sadly, last week’s Ayr Gold Cup was lost to the weather, but happily it has been reincarnated as the 32Red Gold Cup, albeit with a maximum of only seventeen runners, and will be run at Haydock Park on Saturday. I would be perfectly happy that both of last week’s selections, Shanghai Glory and Johnny Barnes, should still have decent chances at the rescheduled venue, but perhaps the Merseyside track will favour the former.
Saturday also sees the 136th renewal of the first leg of the Autumn Double, The Cambridgeshire Handicap, and with the great open spaces of Newmarket Heath at their disposal a maximum field of 35 can be accommodated. Usually run with the throttle full out from flagfall, the contest is invariably won by an animal with a high cruising speed, and has the stamina to last every last inch of the punishing Rowley course, so not surprisingly it is often won by a contender with proven form over further than 9 furlongs. Weight as always is a very significant factor with only six animals in the last forty years winning with more than 9-4 in the plate. Indeed five of the last seven winners carried 8-9 or less. With good recent form a prerequisite, and a proven track record over a straight course, a definite positive, last week’s Newbury winner Brorocco certainly fulfils plenty of the necessary criteria.
Trained by Andrew Balding (pictured) the 4yo son of Shirocco, travelled supremely well in midfield in the 10f Newbury contest, until pilot David Probert asked him to quicken two furlongs out, and he came with a very smooth run to win very comfortably indeed from co/favourite Fidaawy. He is only 4lbs higher on Saturday giving him a nice racing weight of 8-7, and so long as the ground doesn’t go against him, (has never won on anything softer than good) must have a great chance.
Should conditions deteriorate Andrew’s other runner, Naval Warfare shouldn’t be too inconvenienced. The 3yo son of Born To Sea thrived on the good/soft ground when winning a 1mile Class2 Newmarket Handicap on the July course in August off a mark of 92, and again looked a useful individual, who needed further, when beaten less than a length in a 1m Sandown Listed race ten days ago. He races on Saturday off 93 giving him a racing weight of 8-7 and is worth considering particularly if conditions deteriorate.
The David Menuisier trained Thundering Blue has gone up 17lbs on official figures over his last three races, and judging by the way he stormed home in the last hundred yards at Sandown four weeks ago there is probably plenty more to come from the 4yo son of Exchange Rate. A slight concern would be that he seemed to need all of the 10f at Sandown but this should be negated by the likely greater pace and softer ground on Saturday. He races off 93 at the weekend only 6lbs higher than Sandown, giving him a racing weight of 8-7 and looks a worthy favourite.
The David Simcock trained 3yo, Bless Him, won the Britannia Stakes over Ascot’s straight mile in June, but wasn’t seen again until contesting a Goodwood Group3 over an inadequate 7f where he made little impact, five weeks ago. However the colt’s win at the Royal meeting was impressive, and as a son of Sea The Stars out of a Refuse To Bend mare, the extra furlong on Saturday May well bring further improvement, and even on a 10lbs higher mark than Ascot is worth considering.
The willie Haggas trained 3yo, Novoman won a 10f York Handicap off a mark of 86 in July, and six weeks later won a 10 1/2f Goodwood Handicap off an 8lbs higher mark. Clearly progressive the son of Sir Prancealot doesn’t look badly treated off a five pounds higher mark and could get involved.
The Michael Appleby trained Big Country put up a very solid performance when running the talented Ballet Concerto To 3/4L in a Twenty runner York handicap in July as the winner won his next two races, both at Group3 level. Very well bred, by High Chaparral out of a Danehill mare he could make his presence felt.
Unraced as a 2yo, The Sir Michael Stoute trained El Hayem won his maiden over Doncaster’s straight mile on his second racecourse appearance as a 3yo, at odds of 25/1, and has put up some decent handicap performances including beating that useful yardstick, GM Hopkins by a neck off a mark of 92 in July (1m). He was only fifth last time in a York handicap (1m) but certainly didn’t help his cause by dwelling in the stalls at the start. Given plenty of time by his canny trainer he looks well treated on a mark of 96 giving him a racing weight of 8-10 and is well worth considering.
E.W. : Thundering Blue