Our racing expert delivers his verdict on the televised action.
1:50 1m (Row) Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (Group 2) (Colts & Geldings) (Class 1) (2yo)
Quite a competitive Group 2 but one who who cut be a cut above these is John Gosden’s BEATBOXER, who has looked the real deal in winning both his starts. Reported to be “only 80 per cent fit” when making his debut at Sandown in July, he duly rewarded favourite backers in ready fashion before effortlessly following up at Haydock (1m), where he made all under a 6lb penalty and never looked in danger. This is a big step up of course but he’s always been highly regarded (holds an entry in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy) and the ground has come right for him after he missed a Haydock Listed race due to soft conditions. He’s probably not quite in the same league as stablemate Too Darn Hot, the current 2000 Guineas favourite, but must have a big future nevertheless and can give the stable a third success in the last four runnings.
Of his rivals, Kadar looked the part when making a winning debut at Haydock and is open to bags of improvement, so he could be the one to chase the selection home.
2:25 6f (Row) Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies) (Class 1) (2yo)
This features a rematch between the recent Group 1 Prix Morny 1-2, PRETTY POLLYANNA and Signora Cabello, and I’m confident the former can uphold that form and enhance her 1000 Guineas claims in the process. She’s as big as 10/1 for the Newmarket Classic and I can’t help thinking she’d be half those odds if she were trained trained by John Gosden or Aidan O’Brien and not Michael Bell. Certainly, the way she gamely held off the runner-up in France to finish on the front foot bodes well for getting a mile, but she’s clearly no slouch over this trip and is going to relish meeting the rising ground which comes after the dip here. Silvestre De Sousa, who is 2-3 on her, is maintaining the partnership and while she’s hardly an original choice at around the 11/8 mark, she wins for me.
3:00 6f (Row) Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes (Group 1) (Colts) (Class 1) (2yo)
Punters are faced with another short-priced favourite in Aidan O’Brien’s Ten Sovereigns, who has been put in at odds-on to beat seven rivals, including stablemate SERGEI PROKOFIEV. That’s understandable as the son of No Nay Never has looked the business in winning both his starts, both over this trip at the Curragh and a Group 3 last time. In doing so, however, he only beat a horse that was even further behind him in a maiden a week previously and while he still belongs in the ‘could be anything bracket’, I’m not going to back him at best odds of 4/6 to find out.
Sergei Prokofiev, on the other hand, looks a shade a value at 10/1 as he can be forgiven a poor run last time when his stable was out of form and had looked smart previously, including when third behind Calyx in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes. With the edge in experience after five runs and with the drying ground very much in his favour, he surely has a better chance than his odds suggest, with enough runners (eight) for an each-way bet should you wish to play safe.
3:40 1m1f (Row) bet365 Cambridgeshire Handicap (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo+)
One of the most prestigious handicaps in the calendar and always a fierce betting heat, although it’s impossible to be confident about anything and stakes should be kept small. Last year’s 6/1 favourite Thundering Blue had a ton in hand over his rivals and has since shown himself to be a Group performer, but a poor ride from Jim Cowley sealed his fate – he was switched far side when the action came up the stands’ rail and had too much to do – and the race went to a 50/1 rag, with the next two home priced at 100/1 and 50/1.
Clearly, you shouldn’t let a big price put you off and while those near the head of the market might have more appealing profiles, being lightly-raced sorts with Group potential, it usually pays to concentrate on those with higher mileage and definitely with more handicap experience. I’m also going to ignore the draw for betting purposes as it’s proved inconclusive in recent years, with four of the last eight winners drawn 11 or lower and three of the exceptions breaking from 28, 29 and 31.
So, I’m making no apologies for putting up a couple of relative outsiders who meet the above criteria and first up is Andrew Balding’s ZWAYYAN. A five-year-old with 18 starts under his belt, he arrives here in the form of his life having held on well to land a decent 1m handicap at Chelmsford two starts back, when giving the impression he would stay further, and then finding only one too good in another handicap at Ascot run in a good time. He’s running off the same mark and star apprentice Jason Watson, who is claiming a handy 3lb off his back, is renewing the partnership.
David O’Meara’s WAARIF is another five-year-old on the crest of a wave having won four of his last six starts, including the Carlisle Bell and at Ayr just seven days ago, when leading approaching the final furlong and gamely holding off the challenge of the runner-up. He picked up a 4lb penalty for that success but he’s likely to go up by more for future races and most of it is taken care of by Conor McGovern’s claim besides. His trainer, writing in a Stable Tour this week, said he’d see how he came out of that race before committing him, so he’s presumably still bouncing at home and further improvement can’t be ruled out.
We can back the selections each-way at 33/1 and 50/1 respectively down to seven places and that looks like good value to me in a race where we should expect the unexpected.
Newmarket 1.50, Beatboxer @ 9/4 bet365
Newmarket 2.25, Pretty Pollyanna @ 13/8 bet365
Newmarket 3.00, Sergei Prokofiev @ 10/1 Betfair
Newmarket 3.40, Zwayyan each-way @ 33/1 Hills (1/5 odds, 220.127.116.11.5.6.7) / Waarif each-way @ 50/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds, 18.104.22.168.5.6.7)
All odds were correct at time of posting.