The Duke’s Review

It’s all about Newmarket on Saturday as we look forward to quality group races and the hairy lottery that is the Cambridgeshire. Let’s concentrate on the big race, one of the finest handicaps of the season. The distance is 1m1f and the ground is riding on the quicker side for the 35 horses set to line up.

My initial shortlist came to nine horses. Sharja Bridge has been aimed at this race after a bold runner-up effort over course and distance in May in the Spring Lodge. He’s lightly raced and despite a big weight he looks primed for a big run. Afaak, Wissahickon and Very Talented are beside one another on the racecard and there isn’t much to choose between them when analysing the race. Afaak was second in the consolation Silver Cambridgeshire last year. His form hasn’t been stellar but he wears a first-time visor and should go well. Wissahickon is partnered by Frankie Dettori and is in good form. The one thing I would question is whether he’d prefer an extra furlong in this race. He is one to watch swooping home from deep and if there is a testing pace on then he has a really good chance.

Very Talented was third in the Cambridgeshire in 2016 before two years off the track. It’s very tough to know how he will handle this tricky handicap these days.

Danceteria is a rapidly improving gelding who notched four straight wins before an 11lbs rise proved a bit much at the Curragh last time out. The market has spotted his potential to continue his upward curve but they’ve failed to notice Third Time Lucky. It’s a wonder to me that he is 28/1. On known form he shouldn’t be anywhere near that. He won the 2015 Cambridgeshire off a mark of 95 before finishing fourth a year later off 100. He is now rated 97 and two starts ago won a handicap at York showing his wellbeing. There is no doubt that there are plenty of flaws in his recent form but if we assume he runs his best race then the bookies have seriously underestimated him.

Sabador looks intriguing stepping up in trip. He has placed in his last two starts over seven furlongs, staying on well over that distance with the impression the Cambridgeshire trip might just be perfect for him. Jamie Spencer is an ideal jockey booking given he will need to be produced late. 25/1 looks a price worth taking for each-way punters.

Stylehunter has gone up 8lbs for winning at Goodwood and ticks all the boxes regarding trip, ground and form. Quite understandably he is included amongst the favourites off such a nice weight. Even further down the card though is Sands Of Chorus, another who may be overpriced at 66/1. He was 2nd in this very race last year off a mark of 92. His performances since then have stunk, but he now races off that same mark in the same race a year later and I can’t help thinking he might find his ability again.

It’s hugely competitive, but our three to follow are Wissahickon, Third Time Lucky, and Sands Of Chorus.

Of the other races, Ten Sovereigns is odds on for the Group 1 Middle Park. He looks a strong colt and could be difficult to beat. For those trying to take him on Jash has been a cut above his rivals in two runs so far and could be a worthy challenger. In the Cheveley Park Stakes, Pretty Pollyana is a short price after winning the Prix Morny. Sheila Lavery isn’t the most famous trainer but she has a live each-way chance with Lady Kaya.

Earlier on the card, the Royal Lodge Stakes has produced future champions including this year’s stand-out horse Roaring Lion who won the race last year, as well as past heroes such as Frankel. Beatboxer is heading into the race unbeaten and could burn them off with speed, though the betting value lies with Cape Of Good Hope who is from an impressive family. I quite like his chance at 6/1 to upset the market.

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