Last week’s selections in The Commonwealth Cup did the Oddsguru Blog proud. Our first choice, Merchant Navy, came home in front at odds of 4/1, and our E.W. suggestion, Bound For Nowhere, held on for 3rd at the generous odds of 16/1. Mind you Wesley Ward’s charge did his best to spoil the party, hanging left and carrying our selection with him, but for which I’m sure Merchant Navy would have won a little more comfortably. Hopefully the son of Fastnet Rock will stay in training but with top level successes now, in both hemispheres on his CV, it’s more likely that a future at Stud awaits him. For most of next Saturday’s field, which is largely made up of geldings, no such happy retirement is in prospect, with the possible exception of the beautifully bred entire, The Grand Visir.
The Willie Haggas trained 4yo is by the mighty Frankel, out of the Montjeu mare piping whose own dam Saganeca, produced the wonderful Sagamix who won the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe in 1998, an impressive blood line indeed. If continuing to improve on the racecourse, The Grand Visir could hold some attraction as a future stallion. Unraced as a 2yo, he won first time up as a 3yo, a Yarmouth Maiden, (12f May 2017) and then ran well in his first attempt handicapping, finishing 1 1/2L behind the useful Duke of Bronte, (now rated 104) in a Newbury Class3, Racing off a mark of 85, and giving the winner 4lbs. He won a Newmarket Class3 Handicap racing off the same mark next time out, staying on stoutly over the 12f trip. He drew a blank in his next three starts, but stepped up to two miles for the first time at Haydock five weeks ago, he showed that stamina was his forte when staying on resolutely he got the better of Saturday’s opponent, Byron Flyer by 1/2L. He meets the runner up on 2lbs worse terms at the weekend but has the greater potential for improvement, and if handling the (AW) surface, his half brother, Phedre does, has to be worth considering.
The 5yo Withold, trained by Roger Charlton, who won with Quest For More three years ago, is another with an upwardly mobile profile. Unraced as a 2yo, he made steady progress in his 3yo campaign, winning two of his eight starts, to achieve a rating of 87, but it was only following a gelding operation, and a transfer to the Charlton Yard in May 2017 that his form took a serious leap forward. He only had the two runs last term, finishing 3rd in a 12f Newmarket Handicap in September, and then the following month, having been backed in to 5/1 fav he won the hugely valuable 2m2f Cesarewitch by 3 3/4L from the very talented, but alas, late lamented, London Prize from whom he was receiving 8lbs. There is probably more to come from the son of Champs Elysee but there will need to be, as not only is he 12lbs higher on Saturday, but he will be having his first run for nearly eight months and his single run on an (AW) track was inconclusive, (2nd of 5, 3L behind the winner Blakeny Point in a Class4 Kempton Handicap).
A contender who isn’t short of match practice on the (AW) is the Karen Mc Lintock trained Dubawi Fifty. He has raced nine times on it, winning three, (twice at Newcastle) and he put in a sterling effort last time, finishing second, a length behind Saturday’s opponent, Lagostovegas, in last week’s 2 1/2m Ascot Stakes at The Royal Meeting. Probably outstayed at Ascot Saturday’s trip should be more suitable, and on 3lbs better terms with the Mullins horse, must have a serious chance of reversing the Ascot placings.
Another animal who took a definite step forward last time is the Ed Dunlop trained 5yo Amazing Red. Racing off a mark of 93, 4lbs higher than for his previous win, he won the Class2 John Sunley Memorial Handicap over 1m6f at Headquarters three weeks ago. Travelling strongly he challenged over a furlong out and won going away by 3 1/2L from the Useful Golden Wolf. Raised to a mark of 102 for this facile win he actually races off a 4lbs lower mark in Saturday’s early closing event. With plenty of (AW) experience, including a win over two miles on Kempton’s similar surface,(Tapeta) Ed Dunlop’s son of Teofilo has plenty to recommend him.
The James Fanshawe trained Higher Power won last year’s renewal off a mark of 107 and is only 1lb higher on Saturday. He came there cruising at the furlong marker and looked as if he would win easily but in the end struggled to hold on. He has had a wind operation since and ran well last time, finishing second in a Chelmsford conditions event on only his second run since his surgery last October. If indeed the operation has been a success he comes firmly into the mix.
Selection : Amazing Red
E.W. : Dubawi Fifty