Soft ground for today’s excellent Newmarket card with the big betting race of the day the Cesarewitch the second leg of the autumn double.
Coltrane did us a big favour in the Melrose Handicap at York when last seen back in August but is 11lbs higher in the weights this afternoon, is drawn out on the wing in stall 34 and has yet to prove his stamina for this extreme extended two-and-a-quarter mile trip.
Willie Mullins has saddled the winner of the race for the last couple of years and I hope Great White Shark (3.35) can land the hat-trick. The grey got loose before the corresponding race last year and ran as well as could be expected in the circumstances. The 6-y-old is 3lbs lower this afternoon and I believe the 9/1 available at the time of writing is a fair each way price with many firms offering six places.
In the opening nursery I think Inveigle (1.15) will appreciate the step up in distance to 7f for the first time in the colours of Her Majesty the Queen. The colt had a tall reputation before disappointing on his racecourse debut at Ascot, but is bred to appreciate soft ground and might be well treated for his handicap debut. He is quoted at 8/1 with William Hill and is another ew recommendation.
Irish raider Millisle (4.15) won the Gp 1 Cheveley Park Stakes as a juvenile and she carries a 5lbs penalty in the listed Boadicea Stakes for her fluent Group 3 success at Naas back in July. She is drawn next to the stands’ rail in stall fifteen and must go close if she is able to put behind a poor run behind Glen Shiel last time. Jessica Harrington’s 3-y-old is 9/4 with 10bet.
At York, Crystal Pegasus (2.35) is unproven on soft ground and has the worst of the draws in stall 13 but Sir Michael Stoute’s progressive three-year-old may still be well treated from a 4lbs higher mark than when scoring at Yarmouth last time when he made all.
The son of Australia is unlikely to get to the front from stall 13 but has won from behind and does have winning form on good to soft ground. Kevin Stott takes over in the saddle on another each way selection who is 6s with William Hill who are betting 4 places.
The Jam Man (4.55) is 2lbs wrong at the weights in the 2m handicap but I feel this Irish raider – who carries just 8st 2lbs – can get his head in front having finished runner up to a well handicapped rival in Ireland last weekend. Franny Norton takes the ride this afternoon on the seven-year-old – 15/8 with Unibet – who is a multiple winner in Britain previously over jumps.
Disappointing to see so many non runners at Chepstow on Friday on account of the good ground, but I’m not convinced the racecourse executive could have done a great deal more.
I still have nightmares about Imperial Aura finishing third – chased too fast a pace – in last year’s Silver Trophy at Chepstow but he did us a favour when he become the last winner of the Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, following the announcement this week that the race was being replaced by the Mares’ Chase in 2021. A poor/scandalous decision.
Imperial Aura finished third to Flash The Steel 12 months ago and the latter looks sure to run a big race this afternoon from an 8lbs higher mark. The ew vote, however, goes to Notre Pari (3.57) who can take this on his seasonal debut for Olly Murphy in the colours of JP McManus. The ew selection – 7/1 with Unibet 5 places – will jump a fence sooner rather than later, but he is a horse I have had on my radar since his win at Aintree back in December.
At Hexham Giovanni Change has valuable experience over hurdles and he sets a good standard but Nada De Prada (12.55) is unbeaten in two starts and she impressed when winnig her Bumper at Warwick back in the spring on soft ground. Michael Scudamore has his string in excellent form and the mare gets the vote at 10/3 with Boylesports.