First run in 1949, the Hungerford Stakes has been won by plenty of talented animals in its near seventy year history, not least the triple Group1 winning 3yo, Paco Boy in 2008. He was the first of four winners from the Classic generation in the past decade, and Tipperary Maestro, Aidan O’Brien, with three 3yo’s entered at the time of writing, will be hoping to keep the sequence going. The trio are headed by Gustav Klimt, followed by Fleet Review and St Patrick’s Day, and if the market is to be believed his best chance of landing a first Hungerford lies with the St James’s Palace Stakes runner up, Gustav Klimt.
Following that excellent effort in the St James’s Palace over a mile, the son of the all conquering Galileo (pictured), again ran well over the trip when finishing 3rd in the Group1 Prix Jean Prat, and 4th, (beaten 2L) in the Group1 Sussex Stakes 18 days ago.
While he clearly gets the mile at the highest level, all of his three victories, (from 9 starts) have come at seven furlongs, and he put in an excellent effort in last year’s Superlative Stakes, winning despite interference, over the straight 7f at Headquarters. Beautifully bred, he is out of the speedy Danehill mare, Massaara, all of who’s three wins came at 6f, and may find the straight 7f at Newbury right up his street.
Although it can be a dangerous thing to say, neither of the other two Ballydoyle contenders make a huge amount of appeal. Fleet Review has never won beyond 6f and finished 14/20 in the 6 1/2f Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville 13 days ago, and St Patrick’s Day, despite being a full brother to the US Triple Crown winner, American Pharaoh, hasn’t exactly set the world alight in his two starts since leaving Bob Baffert to join the O’Brien operation.
The David Simcock trained Breton Rock won this back in 2014 and now as an 8yo, is attempting to become the first horse since Jimmy Reppin in 1969 to win the contest twice. A terrifically genuine and consistent animal, he showed the talent was still there last time when going down by a battling short head and a head, to Sir Dancelot and Suedois in the Group2 7f Lennox Stakes at Goodwood 19 days ago. Starting at 20/1 he kept on gamely to lead inside the final furlong, only to be collared close home, and now, rated a pound higher than for his victory over Gregorian in that 2014 renewal, has to be well worth a second look.
It can be argued that Sir Dancealot would have been an unlucky loser if not getting up in that Goodwood heat, as he met plenty of trouble in running, and his two previous runs strongly suggested that he is an improving animal. A win in the 7f Group3 Criterion Stakes at Newmarket in June was followed by an excellent 4th in the Group1 July Cup over an inadequate 6f the following month. Obviously well suited by 7f, and despite being 3lbs worse off with Breton Rock and D’Bai on Lennox Stakes running, David Ellsworth’s 4yo looks a danger to all.
The Dean Ivory trained Librisa Breeze has only won 3 of his 15 starts, but one of those was at the top level ( The Group1 Champion Sprint Stakes 2017), and he also boasts a second to Massaat in last year’s renewal. He was well beaten in the 6f Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, but the 6yo ran a much more encouraging race last time in The Group1 Prix Maurice de Gheest over 6 1/2f, finishing a staying on 4th. Saturday’s trip will suit and he handles most conditions, so is worth considering but he does seem to reserve his best efforts for Ascot.
The Sir Michael Stoute trained Dream Of Dreams has won 3 of his 14 starts, and ran well over the course last time, when finishing strongly, he was only a neck and a head behind Saturday’s opponent, Yafta and Projection in the Group3 6f Hackwood Stakes. Mostly campaigned at shorter than Saturday’s trip, both pedigree, (his half brother Fiftyshadesfreed was best around a mile and his half sister, the 2yo filly, Miss Serenity, seemed to stay 7f on her racecourse debut in July) and that run in The Hackwood would suggest that the step up in trip could suit.
The above mentioned Yafta has won 4 of his 8 starts, and that victory in The Hackwood was a career best performance. The Richard Hannon trained 3yo has never won beyond 6f but his two attempts at Saturday’s distance have resulted in very solid runner up placings. His dam, The very useful Swiss Dream, won 6 of her 21 starts, three of them at Listed level, but never raced beyond 6f. However the way she won her penultimate race, (Newmarket 6f Listed Soft) before being retired to the paddocks, strongly suggested that she would have stayed further. All in all the step back up in trip should suit the Hannon runner.
D’Bai, from the hugely successful yard of Charlie Appleby was only beaten 1 1/2L when finishing 5th behind Sir Dancealot in the Lennox at Goodwood which has to make him of interest, but his subsequent 6th in The Prix Maurice de Gheest 13 days ago where he finished behind Librisa Breeze tempers enthusiasm.
Selection : Gustav Klimt (if abs. Sir Dancealot)
E.W. : Yafta