ITV Racing is set to take in action from three different tracks on Saturday. The pick of the action comes from the excellent card at Newmarket as the Cambridgeshire Meeting draws to a conclusion with three Group level races for two year olds and the ever popular handicap after which the meeting is named. There is also Group 2 action from the Curragh in the shape of the Beresford Stakes and two decent handicaps to enjoy at Haydock.
1:50 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes
ITV Racing’s first race of the day at Newmarket is a taste of things to come across the rest of the card. Before the pair of Group 1s ahead, the Royal Lodge Stakes is a classy Group 2 contest which has been won by some excellent horses over the years including the highest rated horse of all time, Frankel. None of the five horses in the field for the 2020 renewal will scale those sort of heights but they have all shown some very good form so far and we should be in for a cracker.
Cobh sits at the top of the betting having improved for every race in which he’s run so far. He has so far shown a versatility in terms of the type of ground that he goes on and a real combination of speed and battling spirit. The step up to a mile last time brought further improvement and he should be able to justify his lofty position in the betting by claiming a first Group 2 win at odds of 5/2.
2:05 Close Brothers Handicap
Class 2, 1m
At this time of the year when the nights start drawing in, the heating goes on and the wind and rain really start lashing down, many people start planning a bit of winter sun (at least they would in a normal year). Spare a thought for Key Victory then for whom a blustery day at Haydock is his first taste of competitive racing since he competed in Meydan earlier in the year.
Charlie Appleby’s five year old had a relatively successful time of it in Dubai and may well be able to pick up from that with a win in this competitive-looking handicap. He is the classiest horse in the field and whilst he’ll have to carry top weight, Key Victory is up to the task.
2:25 Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes
Group 1, 6f
The Cheveley Park Stakes is one of the most prestigious races for two year old fillies of the Flat racing season. Each year a selection of the brightest prospects in training head to Newmarket for a crack at this Group 1 race and that is no different in 2020.
Dandalla is the bookies’ favourite as she arrives with a faultless three wins from three. However, she was made to work much harder than she should have last time out even if connections offered up the soft ground and a high temperature 10 days before the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes as excuses. Even if she bounces right back to her best, Karl Burke’s filly will have a serious job getting the better of Miss Amulet at 7/2. After some impressive work in Ireland, she won a very strong renewal of the Lowther Stakes which could well be the strongest bit of form on show here so Miss Amulet looks the most likely winner.
Alcohol Free is another horse to keep your eye on for this race and for next season. Oisin Murphy has picked her out as one of the most talented two year olds he’s ridden this season. Horse and jockey worked in tandem to produce a win on debut for the Andrew Balding trained filly and they are at least worth each way support at a price of 10/1 as they renew their partnership on Saturday.
2:40 Close Brothers Motor Finance Handicap
Class 2, 5f
The second ITV race from Haydock is a sprint handicap with a field of 11 turning up to compete for a decent prize pot. There are some reliable sorts in the field such as Militia who rarely gives less than his best for his trainer, Paul Midgley and Dark Shot who has not been out of the top two in any of his last three starts. It is the bookies’ favourite and Haydock specialist Came From The Dark who gets the nod though at odds of 7/2.
Ed Walker’s four year old has won on each of his last two starts at this track and although his form didn’t exactly hold up at York’s Ebor Festival where he finished way down the pack in the Sky Bet and Symphony Group Handicap, he is expected to bounce back to form at his beloved Haydock.
3:00 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes
Group 1, 6f
The Middle Park Stakes is a little different to the Cheveley Park as the colts who compete in it tend to be more about speed then anything. Certainly at this stage of their career, few of the eight horses in the field have done anything to suggest that they would be well suited to a mile and this six furlong contest gives them the best chance to show off their strengths.
That is certainly true of Minzaal. Like many of the first crop of horses from Mehmas, Minzaal has shown tremendous speed in the early stages of his career. He may not quite have it in him to go on to be a Guineas horse, let alone a Derby horse, but he could be a serious player among the swollen ranks of the sprinting division. The bookies believe that the powerful Minzaal will have what it takes to see off the competition at Newmarket and we agree, making him the worthy favourite at 11/4.
3:15 Beresford Stakes
Group 2, 1m
ITV Racing is starting to show a bit more Irish racing which is very good news for racing fans and punters as the calibre of the action on the other side of the Irish Sea is usually very good on a Saturday. The Beresford Stakes, a Group 2 race for juveniles, is one such high class contest and this year’s renewal sees some powerful yards represented.
High Definition tops the betting for Aidan O’Brien. Given how well O’Brien’s horses tend to improve from their first appearance, it would be no surprise to see this 7/4 shot make it two wins from two. However, the slightly more experienced Ace Aussie for Jessica Harrington could just throw a spanner in the works. The son of Australia heads into the race with some strong form having held off Colour Sergeant last time out and should be even better for the step up to a mile.
3:35 bet365 Cambridgeshire Handicap
Class 2, 1m1f
There aren’t too many big field handicaps like the Cambridgeshire left in the Flat racing season. As difficult as it has proven to pick out winners from this 1m1f race in years gone by, punters love the potential of a big win and the challenge of pouring over the form to pick out one that the bookies appear to have missed.
There are a few horses in the field to whom that description would apply but perhaps none more so than Celtic Art who is available at odds of 33/1 in places. Connections of this son of Mastercraftsman had hoped that he would scale higher heights than handicap company, but at three he still has time to prove himself against pattern company. His disappointing run in the Group 3 March Stakes last time out suggests that he needs to develop some battling spirit if he is to return to that level and the huge field of the Cambridgeshire is a great place to do just that. If things go to plan in running, Celtic Art can utilise the class that is clearly in there to challenge for at least a place and return very nicely for his backers.