Both group races tomorrow at Newbury have attracted strong fields, with 11 declared for the Geoffrey Freer and 11 going to post for the feature Gp 2 Hungerford Stakes. The latter looks a cracker with the classic generation represented by Sir Dancealot, Daban and Poet’s Vanity.
The latter pair should be suited by the straight seven furlongs at the Berkshrie venue, and were far from disgraced in the 1000 Guineas when finishing 3rd and 7th respectively behind multiple Group 1 winner Winter. Josephine Gordon is an eye-catching booking aboard former and she looks a fair price each-way at 7/1 with BetVictor.
The two-day meeting kicks-off with a seven-race card this afternoon, and Frankie Dettori likely to go close in the opener aboard Ateem (1.40) for trainer Richard Hannon. The Al Shaqab colt settled well on debut at Salisbury, travelling well before finishing fourth in a competitive maiden under Jim Crowley. He should improve for that initial run and on ground currently described as ‘good-to-soft, soft in places, is likely to handle conditions more than most.
Frankie can complete a quick-fire double in the second division of the 7f Maiden riding Qardun (2.10) for trainer Sir Michael Stoute. He is another colt by Dark Angel, and cost connections 220.00 Gns at Tattersalls Sales last October. After a promising debut when second last month at Doncaster, he can defy a wide draw in stall 12 and go one better in what looks a weak renewal.
William Haggas has a strong hand in the feature 5f Fillies’ Listed contest with both One Minute and Validator (3.45), and marginal preference for the latter under Frankie Dettori. The selection has yet to finish out of the frame from four career starts and lost little defeat from top weight in a York nursery last time out. She deserves her chance upped in grade and can cap-off an excellent afternoon at Newbury for Frankie.
Ben Curtis gave Specialv (3.00) a brilliant ride to win last week at Haydock and can follow-up under a penalty at Nottingham. The filly can be quite temperamental but Curtis got a fair tune out of her to win going away last time out, and she is a confident selection to defy a 6lb penalty.
Andrea Atzeni heads to Colwick Park to ride Roger Varian’s Sharja Bridge (3.35) who looks well-placed to make it third time lucky in the maiden over the extended mile. The son of Oasis Dream was turned over in soft ground last time out at Pontefract but he was unlucky to bump into one that today and should improve for the return to a sounder surface.
There’s £40,000 on offer for the feature Colwick Cup over a mile and three quarters, where Owen Burrows’ Quloob will be a warm favourite to complete the four-timer. The son of New Approach has been raised 23lb for handicap successes at Bath, Brighton and Newmarket however, and he is overlooked in favour of Precision (4.10) under Jimmy Quinn at the foot of the weights. The Galileo colt improved for the step up in trip to make a winning handicap debut last time out at Sandown and remains open to further improvement.
Roger Varian’s La Diva should be popular to shed the maiden tag at Newmarket and, after finishing second over course and distance last time out, is expected to go one better under Harry Bentley. The form of that maiden has worked out well but preference lies instead with Highlight Reel (5.20) under Jamie Spencer. Trainer Michael Bell opts to use a first-time hood on the well-bred colt and after an excellent third last time out at Newcastle should improve further with the application of head-gear.
Spencer can double-up on Kitty Boo (6.50) for Luca Cumani in the mile handicap. The selection was narrowly beaten in a warm Nottingham maiden, and was well beaten stepping up in trip when failing to stay a mile and a quarter last time out on ground softer than ideal at Doncaster. She looks well-treated now sent handicapping, and boasts the potential to be much better than her mark of 73.