Tiger can tame rivals
Channel 4 commentator Simon Holt previews Saturday's racing and sides with Tiger Cliff in the Cesarewitch.
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A big weight and a bad draw would be a recipe for defeat for most horses in the Betfred Cesarewitch but recent precedents suggest that TIGER CLIFF can overcome these obstacles in Saturday's big handicap.
In carrying 9st10lb, Lady Cecil's progressive stayer bids to emulate last year's winner Aiim To Prosper while his outside draw of 30 does not look so bad when one considers that Never Can Tell won the race two years ago from box 36.
- 2pts win Tiger Cliff in 15.50 Newmarket at best morning price - still lightly raced and looks capable of carrying 9st 10lb to victory
- 1pt e.w. Seaside Sizzler in 15.50 at best morning price - closely matched with a number of rivals and available at a much better odds.
- 2pts win Lockwood in 14.05 Newmarket at best morning price - ran well at Doncaster in Park Stakes and can build upon that performance.
It is true that last year's race was fought out by horses from low-numbered draw positions but they were probably the best horses in the race by a long way (Aiim To Prosper, winning for the second time, was chased home by Countrywide Flame and Tominator) and I would be pretty certain that Tiger Cliff is, as his high weight suggests, the best horse this time.
Still lightly raced, the Lady Cecil-trained four-year-old was hugely impressive on his reappearance here in May when storming to victory over 14 furlongs and was then given too much to do when a staying-on second in the Ascot Stakes (over two-and-a-half miles) at Royal Ascot (Lieutenant Miller third, Big Easy eighth).
Given a break afterwards, he returned with a thrilling win in the Ebor at York, battling his way through the traffic to beat Genzy but looking well on top at the finish.
There is little doubt in my mind that Tiger Cliff is a horse with a big future - possibly in Cup races next season or over hurdles this winter (or both) - and, as at York, his class can see him home.
The biggest threat may come from French raider Smoky Hill, another lightly-raced stayer, who defied big odds when fourth in the Group Three Prix Gladiateur at Longchamp last month with decent stayers in front and behind him.
This well-bred son of Galileo (out of a Danehill mare) could be very well handicapped if that form can be trusted and every drop of rain on the Heath will fall in his favour.
In contrast, the well-fancied Irish runner Domination would prefer ground conditions to remain fast.
From a shrewd stable, the six-year-old was a fine second at Galway in July and has warmed up for this adventure (and protected his handicap mark) with two victories over hurdles at Cork.
Domination won last year's Cesarewitch trial but that came off a rating of just 77 (compared to 95 now) and he needs to have made substantial improvement since.
The form of Platinum's win at Haydock early last month looks potentially significant; the progressive winner beat reopposing Clowance Estate by just over a length there but third-placed Pallasator (only a half length further back) could well turn the tables as he was making his seasonal debut that day.
Sir Mark Prescott's gelding, who won his last three starts in 2012, seems bound to come on for that run and, while his stamina is not absolutely guaranteed, looks likely to go well for another cunning stable - albeit one with a disappointing record in this race.
One slight worry with Pallasator is his temperament as he can get somewhat stewed up in the preliminaries and he will be accompanied by a pony on the long journey to the Cesarewitch start.
I remember seeing him win at Kempton last year and have never seen a horse sweat so much before a race!
Each-way thieves could do worse than have a few quid on the out-and-out stayer SEASIDE SIZZLER who, while closely matched with Broxbourne and Lieutenant Miller who finished just ahead of him in the Goodwood Stakes in July, is a much bigger price and should be well suited to this test.
Like Tiger Cliff, Ralph Beckett's charge has a very high draw to overcome but he'll still be galloping when others have faltered and a defeat when favourite at San Sebastian in northern Spain last time can be excused on account of the sharp track and inadequate 14-furlong trip.
Earlier, WAR COMMAND should take all the beating (at a short price) in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes if able to reproduce his stunning six-length romp at Royal Ascot back in June.
Aidan O'Brien's colt was immediately posted as favourite for the 2000 Guineas after that victory in the Coventry Stakes only to be beaten at long odds-on in the Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh next time.
Niggled along from half-way, something was clearly amiss with War Command that day but he then bounced back to land the Futurity in August.
One might argue that the Coventry form hasn't worked out particularly well but a line through the runner-up Parbold suggests he can cope with Godolphin's Outstrip who had that colt only just behind him when chasing home Toormore in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Outstrip was a ready winner of the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last month (Cable Bay third) but looks a horse of fairly limited scope to these eyes.
Anjaal is probably the other possible winner in the field but the form of his July Stakes win here (on the July course) in midsummer has taken a few knocks subsequently.
Still, Richard Hannon's colt was easily the most imposing colt on looks that day and is probably capable of much improvement. One reservation was his bad behaviour behind the stalls and consequent slow start.
It seems odd that the Middle Park Stakes is now run on the same day as the Dewhurst and several horses were entered in both races at the five-day stage.
This season's sprinting two-year-olds seem to be taking it in turns to beat each other and this looks wide open with O'Brien's unbeaten Great White Eagle and the recent Mill Reef winner Supplicant perhaps most likely to fight it out.
It's not a race which appeals very much from a betting perspective though and LOCKWOOD looks more attractive in the opening Dubai Challenge Stakes.
The Godolphin grey has progressed well since racing in Dubai earlier in the year (and was previously trained in France) winning a Group Three at Goodwood and then running really well in defeat behind the smart Irish filly Viztoria in the Park Stakes at Doncaster.
Lockwood should take plenty of beating on that effort though the highly regarded Darwin could be a potent threat if bouncing back from a surprise defeat over a mile when odds-on at The Curragh last month.
A dual winner in the States, this son of Big Brown is not to be underestimated but this Group Two is a step up in class and his lofty reputation may ensure Lockwood starts at a backable price.