There is the prospect of thundery showers to hit Newbury on Friday and Saturday ahead of today’s card although, at the time of writing, the ground is described as good to soft – good in places.
Morando finished runner up in the Geoffrey Freer 12 months ago on soft ground and Andrew Balding’s mudlark is the one to beat if the forecast rain does arrive. Without that knowledge, however, the vote goes to the Royal Ascot winner Hukum (3.00). The selection has yet to race on soft ground and, as a son of Sea The Stars, is not guaranteed to appreciate such conditions, but he looked a Group horse in a handicap when winning the King George V Stakes back in June on ground that was just on the soft side of good.
On official figures the three-year-old has plenty to find with the older horses, but the classic generation have won two of the last three renewals of this Gp 3 contest and Hukum gets the vote as long as conditions do not deteriorate markedly. He was available at 7s on Friday but has been nibbled at into 9/2 at Boylesports although further significant rain would be a concern.
Threat (3.35) travelled well before fading in the last couple of furlongs in the St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile on his reappearance before not having the pace to threaten the best sprinters in the 6f July Cup last time. The intermediate 7f trip of the Hungerford Stakes should be ideal although Richard Hannon’s three-year-old is unproven on soft ground. The 11/2 with bet365 looks fair despite the reservations if the rain arrives.
Firm ground is the order of the day at Newmarket and Night Bear (2.05) was last off the bridle but was ultimately outstayed over 1m 6f at Haydock last time and dropping back in trip by a quarter of a mile should not inconvenience Ed Vaughan’s lightly-raced three-year-old – 9/2 with William Hill – who had previously scored at Redcar over 10f. This intermediate trip should be ideal.
In the finale I hope to see Expressionism (5.00) give weight and a beating to her seven rivals in the 1m 6f handicap. The selection was no match for Katara here over a shorter trip in listed company on her belated reappearance, but she looks sure to come on for the run and I feel the winner is very smart. Charlie Appleby’s filly – 9/2 with bet365 – has been given a 6lbs hike in the weights which is a concern, but she has only had four career starts and is open to further improvement. I am pleased to see Godolphin using the excellent Kevin Stott.
At Doncaster Tinker Toy (4.00) can maintain his unbeaten record in the 7f handicap. The selection – 2s with Unibet – has scored at Salisbury and over today’s C&D and he is able to carry bottom weight this afternoon against largely exposed handicappers. The notable exception is the Marcus Tregoning trained Ghalyoon who makes his seasonal debut today and is a 5-y-old with just the three career starts. The fact that his powerful connections have seen fit to persevere with him speaks volumes and it will be interesting to see what the market says about his chance.
At Chepstow Island Nation (8.00) ran his best race yet over today’s C&D last time on his first try at 12f and he was doing all his best work at the end. The hope is that apprentice Stefano Cherchi can get the selection into a more prominent position with his stamina now guaranteed. The 11/4 with 10bet looks fair.