The racing broadcaster previews the Future Champions Day at Newmarket and picks out three other horses to watch at York and Chelmsford.
This weekend is very much a changing of the seasons with the National Hunt Season stepping up a gear at Chepstow while the emphasis is largely, but not exclusively, on youth at Newmarket with Future Champions Day.
That’s because the big handicap of the weekend is the 2m 2f Cesarewitch (Newmarket, 14:40), which has recently been dominated by trainers more usually associated with National Hunt horses, with three successes for Willie Mullins and one apiece for Nicky Henderson and Charles Byrnes in the last five runnings. There are plenty with a similar profile this time around with Mullins, Gordon Elliott, Noel Meade and David Pipe all saddling runners.
However, personal preference is for a horse that chased home the handicap blot Run For Oscar in the race last year, VINO VICTRIX 11/1, who lines up this time off a 2lb lower mark. This reflects a quieter season, but he ran well in the race at Goodwood that he won as his prep for the Cesarewitch last season, and his trainer has a good record in the contest in recent years, partly due to the exploits of the ever popular Oh So Sleepy. His 4lb penalty for a win last time sees him line up for the fourth time off his highest mark in the race at the age of 11.
The Dewhurst quite rightly holds pride of place among the juvenile races (Newmarket, 14:00). City of Troy gave a goosebumps performance in the Superlative Stakes over on the July course but has missed a couple of engagements since which, along with ground, raises a couple of question marks. With Champagne winner Iberian proven on soft ground and Alyanaabi value for more than his narrow last-start win, City of Troy has two very worthy adversaries. If he treats them with the same contempt as he did his Superlative rivals then he will be a short price to win the Guineas back here next season, but the question marks for this weekend makes his short price too prohibitive.
ELSEWHERE AT NEWMARKET AND YORK
The best bet among the juveniles could be ARABIC LEGEND 4/1 in the Autumn Stakes (Newmarket, 13:25). A winner on debut, he just took a while to get organised last time at Salisbury when beaten by Arabian Crown, who runs in the Zetland later on in the card. It has been a moderate season for the Balding juveniles but Arabic Legend looks one of his best prospects and can take another step forward here.
At York, we have a stable tracker horse running in ALBASHEER 6/1 the 6f Sprint Trophy (York, 14:25). He dead-heated with Summerghand over course and distance three starts ago but it was his excellent finishing burst in the Ayr Gold Cup that suggested another big handicap could fall his way if they go hard early. He was last with just over a furlong to run and drawn away from the action, but rocketed home to finish fourth. He is a bit of a white-knuckle bet but clearly has bags of ability.
Later on, CAROLUS MAGNUS is worth a second glance for Mick and David Easterby, whose horses are in decent form (York, 15:35). Picked up for £20k at the Sales 12 months ago, he ran well enough in the Cambridgeshire last time, beaten less than four lengths, and, as long as there is not too much rain, is better than his bare form figures suggest.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
G’DAAY SP looks to have been given a chance to dominate this (Chelmsford, 20:00). He has won three times here, including off today’s mark of 82, and, with little pace on paper, he could well have the run of the race on the front end.
JOCKEYS FOR COURSES
This week’s list features five riders who are heading to venues where they have a good career record. Hopefully, we’ll have three wise men to accompany the two shepherds!
- Chelmsford City – Callum Shepherd (70 winners from 496 rides, with actual/expected ratio of 1.25)
- Chepstow – Stan Shepherd (22/111, A/E 1.54)
- Hexham – Ross Chapman (22/190, A/E 1.36
- Newmarket – William Buick (185/952, A/E 1.18)
- York – P.J. McDonald (18/156, A/E 1.72)
ARABIC LEGEND 4/1 (Newmarket, 13:25)
ALBASHEER 6/1 (York, 14:25)
VINO VICTRIX 11/1 (Newmarket, 14:40)
CAROLUS MAGNUS 10/1 (York, 15:35)