It’s another huge few days of racing on the flat, with Newmarket very much taking centre stage during what is Cambridgeshire weekend. Here are our best bets:
Friday 25th September 2020
1.50 Newmarket (Rosemary Stakes – Listed Race) – CLOAK OF SPIRITS
If she’s back to something like her best, Cloak Of Spirits could provide us with one of the value bets of the weekend in this Listed contest.
She hasn’t won in five tries this season, in fact not in seven since a winning debut last summer. However, her overall level of form stands above the others in this race and today’s race conditions should bring out the best in her.
The 1000 Guineas runner-up looks more than capable over this mile on decent ground of holding off the likes of Ummalnar, Fooraat, Bounce The Blues and the potential improver Bizzi Lizzi.
2.25 Newmarket (Princess Royal Stakes – Group 3) – FRANCONIA
From one filly looking to return to best to another. John Gosden’s Franconia is priced up all wrong on Thursday for a filly who was a very genuine contender for the Oaks, can still take a Group 1 and is having only her fifth career start.
On seasonal debut she put in a very green but very taking performance when landing the Abingdon at Newbury, and with the Oaks discounted on the grounds of inexperience she did win again next time at York.
True, she was well beaten last time in the Yorkshire Oaks but she clearly wasn’t right that day and in these conditions she can if anything regain her upward momentum. Alpinista, Katara and Antonia De Vega may all be of a similar level by now and can challenge.
3.35 Newmarket (Joel Stakes – Group 2) – BENBATL
Regular readers will know that I’ve marked up Kameko and Regal Reality before who both bring in genuine Group 1 form, while Tilsit is another we’ve backed successfully here and he is on the way up.
Sometimes however, we can look for change just for the sake of it but this time it may well be worth sticking with the proven class act in these conditions and that is last year’s winner Benbatl.
Saeed bin Suroor’s six-year-old may well have a crack at the Breeders’ Cup Classic and he’s gone well on dirt, mixing it with the best, but he took this by five lengths last year in similar conditions.
2000 Guineas winner Kameko has been campaigned disappointingly for me and he is better than he showed when being boxed in at Goodwood or when being sent over 1¼ miles at York, however he is giving 5lbs away to Group One types and that should be just too much for him.
Tilsit, at today’s weights, can reach a similar level to Kameko and is definitely going places but Benbatl is the percentage call with Frankie Dettori on board this time.
Saturday 26th September 2020
2.25 Newmarket (Cheveley Park Stakes – Group 1) – SACRED
Things are close for me in the two big juvenile Group 1’s, though both are worth taking a chance with. Firstly, in the Cheveley Park the talk has been all about Dandalla and there is so much to like about how she’s been prepared as well as her form.
Three from three and held back for this race, a quick glance at the form book would have you backing Karl Burke’s filly for sure and she may yet prove to be just too good for them.
Sacred though is very interesting at a price. William Haggas’ runner has form figures of 1222 which usually would put me off, given that she has tried and failed to beat three other fillies and this is a Group 1.
However, all of those fillies were top class and it may well be that she’s not had conditions to her liking. That changes here, she wears headgear for the first time to straighten her up and now that she’s back over six furlongs it’s easy for me to see her improving past Miss Amulet and getting to Dandalla.
3.00 Newmarket (Middle Park Stakes – Group 1) – MINZAAL
Another close one potentially, though I’ll be backing the improvement of Minzaal over the proven ability of Lucky Vega who are my top two.
Method is favourite for this and Supremacy has been touted no end, but actually I’m just not certain either has very much more to give at this stage of their careers.
Jessie Harrington’s Lucky Vega was a brilliant winner of the Phoenix Stakes back in August and this step back to six furlongs you’d think is in his favour. However, whether it was the trip or not, the fact that Lucky Vega didn’t go on at the Curragh might suggest that while he’s obviously top class we pretty much know how good he is.
Minzaal on the other hand has more to offer yet. Readers of last week’s piece will know I think a lot of Alkumait, and it was interesting to hear Jim Crowley speak of this horse in the same regard.
Fourth on debut, Minzaal was a good winner at Salisbury before stepping forward significantly again to destroy a decent Gimcrack field at York. Going over this six at Newmarket can bring about more improvement and if that happens, he’ll be very tough to beat.
01.00 Santa Anita Park (Awesome Again Stakes – Grade 1) – IMPROBABLE
This is a late one, but it could be worth watching. Bob Baffert, having inherited Maximum Security from Jason Servis, has both of the main contenders here but while all attention will be on the horse who has won six in a row and nine of 11 (ten if not for disqualification from the Kentucky Derby) we are backing his stablemate.
Maximum Security is obviously good, but his form has maintained while Improbable’s keeps getting better. Only a four-year-old himself, he won his Grade 1 race so easily last time and will reach new heights here if needing to get into a battle. Drayden Van Dyke takes the ride.