What are the best bets in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket on Saturday?
This year’s renewal looks as competitive as ever and there can only be one winner – the bookies! That said, we’re guaranteed decent odds if we can land on the winner and, with plenty fancied, I make no apologies for using past results as a guide.
They speak loud and clear in pointing us towards those horses who are proven over this specialist trip of 7f, with all the past winners having prevailed over it previously. That rules out the fancied pair of Golden Steps and Growl, with the latter also bidding to become the first horse to successfully carry a penalty since 1987. We can also put a line through the likes of Tanzeel, Kickboxer and Mutawathea on the trip score.
Several of the remainder have had busy campaigns in 2016 and that is another black mark as this is a race that trainer’s like to target and the last six winners were opening their accounts for the season. That latter stat would rule out Flash Fire and Perfect Pasture, while Bossy Guest, Emell, Glory Awaits and Boomshackerlacker have all been on the go for a long time.
That helps to reduce the field down to a far more manageable size and a couple of those remaining, Farlow and Heaven’s Guest, are trained by Richard Fahey, who has won the race three times since 2011, including with the latter horse in 2014. He also finished third last year, despite not getting the clearest of runs, and a repeat looks possible after he signalled a return to peak form when finishing second to Jallotta at York last time out. Three horses have won this more than once, so he is very much respected and it’s hard to see him finishing out of the frame.
However, he might again find one or two too good and I reckon Peter Chapple-Hyam’s BUCKSTAY can finish ahead of him. He is another 7f specialist and, indeed, has a course and distance success to his name, albeit off a 12lb lower mark. He followed that up with a fast-finishing fifth in the 6f Ayr Gold Cup before again showing his liking for this trip when landing a Heritage Handicap at Ascot off a mark of 101. He’s running off 109 today, but his trainer has booked talented 7lb claimer George Wood (1-2 when riding on the July Course) to help ease his welter burden and he’ll be cherry ripe after finishing fifth in a strong-looking renewal of the Wokingham last time. I fancy he can become the first winning favourite since St Moritz in 2010.
One other horse who fits the trends and may represent some each-way value is Ed Walker’s GLORIOUS EMPIRE. He won a handicap over track and trip in August 2014 off just 3lb lower and has since won a valuable 6f handicap in Hong Kong, where his owner resides. He hasn’t run since last May, but he’s likely been targeted at this (I bet his owner is over) and connections clearly mean business by snapping up the services of Ryan Moore. The slight worry is that he might need more cut in the ground than he’s going to get here, but his 16/1 price tag makes it a risk worth taking.