Our resident tipster likes the look of two soft-ground horses running at Newbury this afternoon.
With Ripon’s Great St Wilfrid Handicap and consolation race covered elsewhere on this site, I’m going to concentrate here on the excellent action at Newbury.
The track’s feature is the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes (due off 3.45pm) and it looks a cracking renewal too with 16 set to go to post and they include John Gosden’s Richard Pankhurst, who has not been seen since winning the Chesham Stakes at last year’s Royal Ascot meeting. He looked very exciting that day and could well make up into an even better three-year-old, but he is surely best watched on his belated return.
The ground is the other unknown with him as he’s never raced on ground as soft as this and it could pay to concentrate on those horses who have shown a preference for plenty of cut. Of these, Andrew Balding’s HERE COMES WHEN makes most appeal as he has been plying his trade at the top level this summer on ground faster than ideal and this drop in grade may be just what he needs to get his head back in front.
A winner on soft over this trip at Newmarket last October, when accounting for 12 rivals including the reopposing Cable Bay, he’s been running well in defeat since, including when chasing home Custom Cut on his reappearance at Sandown and finishing fourth behind the mighty Solow in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last time. Just behind him that day was Cougar Mountain and that horse gave the form a timely boost when winning a Group 3 at Leopardstown in midweek.
The recent the rain is also going to help last year’s winner Breton Rock and he’s feared most, though he’s 4lb inferior to the selection according to the ratings. Limato, on the other hand, has shown all his best form on fast ground and he’s readily discounted, with his stamina for 7f also unproven.
The other Group race on the card, the Geoffrey Freer Stakes over 1m5f (2.35pm), looks between Gospel Choir and Romsdal and, as I’m struggling to split them, I’m going to move onto the handicaps, with one horse in particular crying out to be backed in this sphere. The beast in question being the Ed Walker-trained MEZAJY, who should be a good price for the 1m2f handicap (4.15pm).
The three-year-old ran a good third on his reappearance at Nottingham, his first start for his current stable, before stepping up on that to win his maiden at Epsom over 1m1/2f. He’s been beaten twice since but the ground was perhaps a little faster than he likes on both occasions and yet he still managed to finish third at Newmarket and fifth in a strong handicap back at Epsom, when he didn’t get the run of the race.
His up-and-coming handler made him his ‘trainer’s pick’ in a recent Stable Tour, saying: “I really like this horse and would advise readers to keep on the right side of him. He’s a very progressive sort and we’re nowhere near the bottom of him yet.” As regards his ground preference, he added: “Cut in the ground is the key as he doesn’t want it any quicker than good.” Today’s “soft” is therefore ideal for him and I’ve a feeling we could see a career-best effort, so bet accordingly.
Newbury 3.45, Here Comes When @ 4/1 William Hill
Newbury 4.15, Mezajy @ best morning-line price