Alex Hammond: See Red at Newbury
Alex Hammond previews this weekend's action in her latest blog with Red Cadeaux fancied to win the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury.
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It’s been an important week at Sky Sports News HQ with the re-launch of the channel and the unveiling of our swish new studio.
This weekend also sees the start of the new Premier League season so there is plenty going on. There is much to look forward to and it could be the perfect weekend if Farlow manages to get his head in front at Newbury on Saturday too!
Readers of this blog may be aware that I own a tail hair of the Richard Fahey trained six-year-old, but I’ve never seen him run. Richard has seen sense and decided to run him in my neck of the woods so I’m looking forward to (hopefully) cheering him home!
That is no guarantee mind you as he’s not the most predictable and wears the hood for the first time in the Betfred Goals Galore Ladies Day Handicap. He is consistent and enjoys cut in the ground, so I hope we continue to see the heavens open before the race at 3.15pm which will aid his cause.
There is plenty in his favour, not least the booking of champion jockey Richard Hughes; will it be his day? He has to bounce back from a moderate effort last time out, but I hope this track will suit him better. I’ve got to make him my selection in this, but maybe more in hope than expectation.
Staying at Newbury and the Betfred Hungerford Stakes is the feature. Seven have been declared for this seven-furlong Group 2 and it looks pretty open.
John Gosden’s Gregorian is bidding to follow up his win in this last year and is the highest rated. The softer ground conditions are the key to him so conditions suit. The concern is his latest run, as he was disappointing behind Garswood in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at the weekend and there didn’t appear to be an obvious reason for the poor show.
Prior to that he had run an excellent race to be third in the Group 1 Darley July Cup and he wouldn’t have to reproduce that form to win this. Another positive is his trainer’s form; Gosden is operating at a 32% strike rate this month and he must have come back from France in good form for him to be declared to run again so soon.
I think Red Cadeaux is one of my favourite horses in training (apart from Farlow of course, particularly if he wins on Saturday!). He is one of the protagonists in the Betfred TV Geoffrey Freer Stakes, a Group 3 run over a mile and five furlongs.
He is well clear on the ratings and was second in the race last year. Since then he has only contested races at the highest level often running his usual game race. He should appreciate the drop in grade here and has had a break since the Singapore International in May.
He’s such a versatile horse and could easily win this for trainer Ed Dunlop whose horses have been running much better of late. He will be heading back to Melbourne in November.
An interesting contender is the Saeed bin Suroor trained Willing Foe who has his first run since May 2013. He is sure to be sharper for this run, but he has course form and likes the ground. He won the Ebor two years ago.
Richard Hannon reaches for the blinkers for Pether’s Moon who beat Enke at Goodwood last time out. He may not want the ground too soft and is being targeted at the Melbourne Cup, so that’s his main target.
Seal of Approval needs to put a bad run at Haydock behind her last time out. You can forgive a horse a bad run (particularly a mare as she could have been in season) and she has conditions to suit for trainer James Fanshawe who has his team in decent form.
She wears the hood and she used to be pretty highly strung, but could run a decent race on Saturday.
Somewhat could be on course for the St Leger for trainer Mark Johnston is all goes well here. He has been in great form, running above expectations to be third in the Eclipse and then filling the same spot at Goodwood on his latest start in the Gordon Stakes.
The further step up in trip will give connections an idea about his ability to stay for the final classic.
Cambourne has ability but isn’t straightforward; John Gosden’s gelding will enjoy the ground and as I mentioned a moment ago, his trainer is in great form.
I’d love to see Red Cadeaux win this and he may well do just that, however, I’m hoping that Seal of Approval can bounce back and beat the boys.
Away from Newbury and the feature race at Ripon is the William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap over six furlongs.
It’s the most valuable race of the year at the ‘Garden Course’ and looks ultra competitive. There has been a plunge this week on Kimberella who is now 9/1 with Sky Bet.
He has an unblemished record at this track with one win from one run earlier this year. His trainer, David Nicholls, was always known as the sprint king, but whilst there are a few trainers that have challenged him for that title he is a trainer to follow and is operating at a decent level stakes profit this season. He looks to be enjoying a bit of a revival which is great to see.
He is still a man to have on your side in these big sprint handicaps and he has a 26% strike rate this month. Kimberella looked to be in the grip of the handicapper when finishing midfield in the Sky Bet Dash at York last time out and only 1lb lower doesn’t look like it will make life that much easier.
However, you have to respect the support for him and hope he puts in a better effort here. He looks capable of popping up in one of these big sprint handicaps and it looks like this has been his target.
Nicholls paid 31,000 guineas for him at the sales last October and you wouldn’t be surprised to see more improvement to come.
One of his rivals is Spinatrix who has to bounce back from defeat in Listed company at Haydock last time. She reportedly ran flat there, but that was back in May and she should be a different proposition this time.
Michael Dods trains this six year old mare who has won seven of her 34 outings and has been placed on numerous occasions too. It looks like she gets her ideal conditions here over six furlongs and with some ease in the ground. She has plenty of weight, but I think she can run well again. She was second to Baccarat in this last year off just a 2lb lower rating.
Tatlisu is one of four in the race for last year’s winning trainer Richard Fahey who also saddles Majestic Moon, Supplicant and Flyman.
Tatlisu was beaten two short heads to be third in the Steward’s Cup consolation race last time and has been raised 4lbs by the handicapper, I think he can still be competitive off that mark though and is a consistent performer.
Majestic Moon tried to make the running in the International last time out and seems to enjoy prominent tactics.
Three-year-old Supplicant is interesting if he can recapture his form as a juvenile from last season. He has dropped down the ratings, enjoys a bit of cut in the ground and goes well at Ripon. It can be difficult for horses like him though after a decent first season and he paid the price for some nice performances, but there have been some decent performances from his age group in this in the recent past. It’s just a matter of when he is back on a competitive mark and he could run well here at a nice price.
Older horses do generally fare best in this contest though. Fairway to Heaven is trained in Newmarket by Michael Wigham who is another trainer who can get one ready for the big day. Many years ago he was kind enough to give me a ride in the Ladies Diamond Race at Ascot and I had a great spin finishing fourth; so he must be able to train!
This horse is lightly raced for a five-year-old with only nine starts, three of which he has won. Jack Mitchell won on him last time out and is in the plate again and he looks like an improving sprinter.
Another couple of horses to add to the mix are Another Wise Kid for Paul Midgley and Richard Whitaker’s Piper’s Note who both ran at Ripon last time out with the latter just prevailing. David O’Meara saddles Bondesire and Out Do.
Out Do was third to Piper’s Note and Another Wise Kid at Ripon last time and is fitted with the visor for the first time. So, as you can see, it’s a wide open contest, but I like Kimberella to win and I’ll be keeping a close eye on Supplicant as he’s my value each way selection.