The ITV cameras are at Newmarket for the first day of their Dubai Future Champions Festival. At the time of writing the ground is described by clerk of the course Michael Prosser as soft – good to soft in places – with further showers forecast.
The card opens with the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes for juveniles over the minimum trip of 5f. Charlie Appleby’s Lazuli is unbeaten in two starts over 6f and was value for much more than his nose success at Doncaster last time.
Preference, however, is for another Godolphin runner Platinum Star (1.50) whose only start over today’s trip resulted in a second to Aidan O’Brien’s Southern Hills in the listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. He was on top at the distance when landing the listed Champion Two-Year-Old Trophy at Ripon last time, has form on soft ground and 3/1 at BetVictor looks a fair price.
Platinum Star’s connections also saddle the likely market leader in the Gp 2 Oh So Sharp Stakes courtesy of Final Song who steps up to 7f for the first time, having been off the track since finishing third on the July course in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes. Her subsequent near three-month absence from the track is a slight concern and at 15/8 at BetVictor she is overlooked.
Stylistique remains a maiden after five starts but ran a career best when second in the Rockfel over C&D a fortnight ago. William Haggas has not perhaps had the greatest season of his illustrious career, but he had a welcome Group 1 at Longchamp last weekend and the vote goes to Wejdan (2.25) who found the combination of fast ground and 6f too sharp in the Lowther last time. At 5/1 with BetVictor she gets the eacxh way vote.
Quadrilateral is the antepost favourite for the 1000 Guineas at 10/1 at BetVictor and she puts her classic credentials on the line in the feature event the Fillies’ Mile. She put 9L between her and the opposition when scoring at Newbury last time, but this is the acid test for this daughter of Frankel.
I was impressed by Cayenne Pepper (3.35) at the Curragh last time and Jessica Harrington’s unbeaten filly can take the step-up class in her stride. The filly is 11/4 at BetVictor and she gets the narrow vote over the Moyglare Stakes winner Love.
BetVictor are betting five places in the Old Rowley Cup and I hope to see Dereva occupy one of those places for Sir Michael Stoute with Ryan Moore in the saddle. The colt has been brought along steadily this summer winning three of his four starts and could make up into a Group performer next year. The selection is 8/1 at BetVictor. Dangers are thick on the ground with Trueshan (8s BetVictor) and Cape Cavalli (16s) at the top of a long shortlist.
Fanny Logan (5.20) escapes a penalty in the Gp 3 Pride Stakes despite having won a hat-trick of listed races for John Gosden. Frankie Dettori takes over in the saddle on a filly who has done us a couple of favours in recent weeks.
Chepstow stage a cracking jumps card and ITV will screen the opening Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle. Harambe (2.10) looked a non-stayer on his sole previous start over today’s two-and-a-half-mile trip, but he made most on that occasion and became more amenable to restraint with experience last term. He was entered in the two-mile handicap hurdle on Saturday and I hope connections have made the right decision. At 6/1 with BetVictor he is an each way selection.
It hasn’t been a great week for Rebecca Curtis, having lost Drovers Lane at the weekend, but I hope to see Lisnagar Oscar (3.20) put a smile back on her face in the 3m Novice Chase. The selection ended his novice hurdle season finishing fifth at Cheltenham and third at Aintree in the big end-of-season Festivals but has the scope to make into an even better chaser.
I am sure there is more to come from Scaramanga this term for Paul Nicholls, but King D’Argent (4.30) was the best of the British in the Fred Winter back in the spring and he gets the vote in the Paul Ferguson Jumpers To Follow 4-y-old Handicap Hurdle for Dan and Harry Skelton. The selection has a good record fresh and can race off the same mark as at Cheltenham this afternoon.
Just A Thought finished runner up in the concluding Mares’ Novices Hurdle two years ago to the Paul Nicholls trained If You Say Run and she should be noted for a market move returning from a 540-day absence.
She may again have to play second fiddle to a Ditcheat representative, however, with Silver Forever (5.35) making her hurdles debut. A winner of her sole point the selection has not been seen since finishing second in Sandown’s listed Bumper back in March.