It was very disappointing to see last week’s selection in the Wokingham Handicap, Huntsmans Close, having to be withdrawn after getting loose in the preliminaries. Trained to the minute, and judging from the dispirited look on his trainers face, I’m sure we would have got a good run for our money. However there will be plenty more days in the sun for Huntsmans Close, and his very able trainer Roger Charlton could very well land a large pot in the big one at Newcastle on Saturday, with his talented stayer Quest for More, to restore his spirits.
Twice a winner over 1m4f, and once over 2m (Ascot), he made a most encouraging reappearance when going down by a hd to Astronereus at Newmarket (3 May 1m4f) with the subsequent impressive Royal Ascot winner Arab Dawn, 11/2L back in third. He confirmed his progress when winning a Goodwood handicap ( 1m6f Gd) off a six pounds higher mark thirteen days later, beating Oasis Fantasy by 1/2L. He won comfortably at the Sussex track, so the 1lb turn around with the runner up should prove surmountable. While definitely going the right way I just wonder if 1m6f might prove his optimum trip as last years Ascot win over 2m was a hard fought affair in a slow time. However it was a brave win as he was carrying 10st and held on well. Certainly if he maintains his progress over Saturday’s trip he must have fair prospects of defying a rise of 8lbs and is considered.
Richard Fahey, trainer of last years winner, Angel Gabrial, is triple handed, with last years hero accompanied by two more Gabrials, King and Star. Having finished in close proximity to the gold cup winner, Trip to Paris, on two occasions this year, Gabrials king is perhaps the more interesting. Despite being trapped on the inner until approaching the final furlong, he was beaten a rapidly reducing 3 3/4L when receiving only 2lbs from Trip to Paris at Ripon on his reappearance. It was a case of more of the same in the Chester Cup twelve days later, when again Franny Norton couldn’t mount a challenge until too late and again finished three lengths behind the Gold Cup hero. He was slightly disappointing in his last race, a slowly run affair (Haydock 2m good May 23rd), where held up off a pedestrian pace, he kept on well to get within 6 1/2L of the winner Seamour. Set to meet the winner on 11lbs better terms on Saturday, and mindful of his form with the Gold Cup winner, he has to be on the shortlist.
Marco Botti’s 2014 Chester Cup winner, Suegioo, ran a fine race in last years renewal, when finishing second to Angel Gabrial, but hadn’t shown much in his four subsequent outings, until last time, when despite an awkward head carriage, he buckled down to the job in hand, and got to within 2 3/4L of Seamour at Haydock. He meets Seamour on 4lbs better terms on Saturday, and is also 6lbs better off with his conquerer, Angel Gabrial, in last years race, so looks quite well handicapped. A slight reservation would be his poor win to race ratio (2 from 22 starts), but in the hands of his very able handler, is seriously considered.
Eleven 4yo’s have won since 1985, but only one, Tominator, has been successful in the last seven years, so perhaps local man Brian Ellison’s best chance of landing this long sought after prize, lies not with his 4yo, and current favourite Seamour, but with one of his other three runners, and his 6yo Totalize ticks many boxes. Only seventh in the race last year, he meets Angel Gabrial on 3lbs better terms, but more importantly, looks as if he has been laid out for this. He had only the one run after this last year, (York August 20 2m) when ridden by a 7lb claimer he finished 8L behind the second horse that day, Quest for More, with whom ( excluding the claimers allowance), he is now 16lbs better off. He ran a great race on his reappearance, going down by 1 3/4L to his stablemate Seamour. Sure to come on a lot for the run and 5lbs better off with Seamour, in what is bound to be a Truely run race,his chance is obvious.
It has to be said that stepped up to 2m for the first time at Haydock, the very lightly raced Seamour’s performance was full of merit, and if continuing to progress at the trip, it will be no surprise to see him involved at the business end .
E.W. : Gabrials King