Simon Holt: Communique to conquer Masar at Newmarket

Simon Holt previews the big-race action
Simon Holt previews the big-race action

Top commentator Simon Holt is taking on 2018 Derby hero Masar as he previews day one of the July festival at Newmarket on Thursday.

Recommended Bets, July 11

1pt e.w Ranch Hand in 1.50 Newmarket at 16/1

1pt e.w Almufti in 3.00 Newmarket at 22/1

1pt win Communique in 3.35 Newmarket at 16/1

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record


Much interest will surround Masar's second outing since his Epsom Derby win last year in the Princess Of Wales's Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday but he was only fifth of eight at Royal Ascot and could be opposable.

An early stumble didn't help his chances in last month's Hardwicke Stakes won by Defoe, and he could easily have needed the outing, but Masar eventually finished over three lengths behind the re-opposing Mirage Dancer (third) and didn't finish off all that strongly.

With the run under his belt, perhaps we will see a much improved performance now but I wouldn't rule out a complete form book upset as COMMUNIQUE, last of the eight home in the Hardwicke, could be a different proposition here.

Mark Johnston's colt paid the price for chasing a strong pace set by Salouen (also well beaten eventually) whereas he got a soft lead when beating Defoe in the Jockey Club Stakes on the Rowley Mile course in May.

There's no doubt that Silvestre De Sousa rode a peach of a race that day but the chances are he will be able to dictate matters here too, and Communique is unbeaten in three visits to Newmarket including when beating Zaaki at this meeting last year.

Mirage Dancer was second in this race last year and should go well again. The son of Frankel was a beaten favourite on two other occasions, but continues to make steady - if not spectacular - progress.

Communique's stable-companion Baghdad put up a tremendously game effort to win the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap last month but now takes a step up in class.

In a wide-open bet365 Handicap, ALMUFTI (Oisin Murphy) can take plenty of beating if reproducing his best form.

Hugo Palmer's colt has been given a break since finishing fifth behind Moyassar over this trip at the Guineas meeting and could be a potent threat on his third behind Mohaather and Azano (now rated 104) with Fanaar (100) back in fourth in the Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury last October.

Off a mark of just 92, Almufti is better handicapped than many in this large field and is given another chance to step up on his two runs so far this season.

The day begins with the Bahrain Trophy, a trial for the St Leger, in which the stoutly-bred RANCH HAND (Murphy again) looks interesting.

By Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden out of the useful staying mare Victoria Montoya who won over a mile and six furlongs, Andrew Balding's gelding is certain to appreciate a step up in distance after his staying-on fifth behind Anthony Van Dyke in the Lingfield Derby Trial (Nate The Great third, Eagles By Day sixth, Severence seventh) in May.

That was Ranch Hand's third career start, and a big rise in class after two victories at Southwell, so there is reason to think more improvement will be forthcoming especially over this extra ground.


Posted at 1325 BST on 10/07/19

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