Whilst it is disappointing that there won’t be any members of the public at Newmarket this weekend, there is a good deal to look forward to on the track.
All eyes will be on Minzaal in the Middle Park Stakes given he looked an absolute monster in the Gimcrack, but that form has taken a few knocks since, even though Ubettabelieveit – who was beaten 30 lengths – bounced back in the Flying Childers.
Minzaal has proven that he can dispatch inferior opposition on a flat track but he is going to need to be plenty more than a flat track bully if he’s to go in again in this Group 1 feature.
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The undulations of Newmarket, on likely quicker ground (currently good to firm although there is rain forecast later in the week), are going to ask a very different question of the Owen Burrows-trained star, and that is without even mentioning that fact that he isn’t even the highest-rated horse in the race.
That honour goes to the appropriately named Supremacy, who showed his rivals a clean pair of heels in the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Goodwood earlier in the summer.
Quite whether he’ll be able to boss this field in the same manner remains to be seen but front runners can be hard to peg back on the Rowley Mile, especially if they can bag the rail, and Supremacy has been kept for this since July.
Irish raiders have a strong recent record in the Cheveley Park Stakes, winning five of the last nine editions of the Group 1 contest, and don’t be surprised if the prize goes back over the Irish Sea once again.
Miss Amulet has already plundered one of the biggest British juvenile fillies’ races of the season having seen off Sacred in the Lowther Stakes at York, and she just about looks the one they have to beat on Saturday.
It has crossed my mind that she might be better suited by some ease in the ground but jockey Billy Lee told reporters after her Naas win earlier in the season that she would want better ground, in which case she did very well to win at York.
So, with conditions no issue on the Rowley Mile and Ryan Moore booked to do the steering, she looks well placed to provide Kevin Condon with a first Group 1 success of 2020.
And then there is the Cambridgeshire, ordinarily one of the toughest handicaps of the year for punters to solve.
Last year was the first since 2013 that the winner wasn’t sent off a double-figure price, suggesting it generally pays to steer clear of the top of the market. But that might be a challenge this time around.
Jockey of the moment Tom Marquand is chasing a big-race hat-trick having landed the St Leger and Ayr Gold Cup on the last two Saturdays, and punters are sure to latch onto his Cambridgeshire mount.
It has yet to be confirmed which of the William Haggas-trained runners he is going to ride but come Thursday lunchtime when the 48-hour decs are out, then we may see a stampede that will have bookies running for cover.
Don’t be at all surprised if Marquand’s mount has halved in price come post time on Saturday.
Master At Work
Meanwhile, it will be a sorry day when Jamie Spencer hangs up his riding boots – again. For me, there is no finer sight in racing than watching Jamie Spencer swinging away whilst his rivals are all hard at work.
We saw another example of the master at work at Newmarket on Saturday when Folk Dance won the mile-and-a-half fillies’ handicap without knowing she had been in a race.
Spencer gets a lot of stick for often giving horses too much to do but, for me, he has the finest hands in the game – you can count on the fingers of one hand how many horses you see racing too keenly when he’s on board. He is peerless at getting his mount to settle and into a good rhythm.
Of course, they aren’t always good enough to win and sometimes traffic gets the better of him, but when it all comes together, it’s a joy to behold.
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