Attention turns to Newbury on Saturday afternoon and horse racing fanatics are in for a real treat as the Hungerford Stakes takes centre stage on a mouth-watering card.
The televised action kicks off with the Listed Washington Singer Stakes and there will be some lofty reputations shattered as four of the five juveniles take an unbeaten record down to post for the seven furlong showpiece.
Native Khan (2.00) is one of the horses yet to taste defeat and while there is sure to be some bubbles burst at the Berkshire track on Saturday, the hope is that Ed Dunlop’s colt can continue the winning thread and follow up his impressive victory at Newmarket – a race he was allowed to win at a whopping 14/1 with Stan James.
Native Khan will face formidable opposition in the shape of Clive Brittain’s Zaidan who has had his wings clipped with a 3lb penalty after his success in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot two months ago. With King Torus subsequently franking the form of that race at Glorious Goodwood, Zaidan is sure to be popular at the weekend and with the Kentucky Derby firmly on the son of Street Cry’s agenda he is clearly a horse held in the highest regard. However, I am happy to side with Native Khan in what looks a fiercely competitive renewal of the race.
Kite Wood (2.30) returns to Newbury one year on from his success in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes and after becoming the first three-year-old in eight years to land the Group Three, he returns to defend his title for trainer Saeed Bin Suroor. He looks set to follow up and with the ground set to soften up in the midst of a poor forecast at the Berkshire venue, the easy underfoot conditions will only play to the talented star’s strengths. A highly creditable second behind Mastery in last year’s St Leger reads very well in a race of this nature and Kite Wood is forgiven his flop at Royal Ascot two months ago where he palpably failed to give his running in the Ascot Gold Cup after sweating up hideously in the preliminaries. If back to anything like his best form he will be difficult to beat, though a 4lb penalty will not make life easy for Frankie Dettori’s mount.
Horse racing tipping is no easy business but one thing is for certain; a grey will win the 2.45 at Newmarket on Saturday as sixteen horses get set to go to post for the HQ’s annual race for greys’ only. Last year’s winner Sarah’s Art is back to defend her crown but an 11lbs hike in the weights could be enough to halt her progression and a chance is taken on the well-handicapped Witchry. If the selection runs up to his best form he looks like being a potential handicap good thing and if there was significant rain then confidence will be brimming in the eight-year-old’s chances.
Bated Breath puts his unbeaten record on the line on the National Stud Stakes (3.20) and while he must give weight away in the six furlong dash, he looks a champion sprinter masquerading in handicap company and will surely go close if he is as good as we are led to believe. His trainer Roger Charlton has won the race two times in the last six years and has compared Bated Breath favourably with some of the other top class sprinters he has been lucky enough to train in his illustrious career.
There is no doubt the Great St Wilfred Handicap is the highlight of the season at Ripon racecourse and high numbers look to be the ones to follow, despite the fact Markab bucked that trend from the middle of the track in stall ten in 2009. In form trainer Dandy Nicholls saddles Tajneed (3.30) at one of his favourite tracks and the sprinter has won all three starts over today’s C&D, including the corresponding race in 2008. Drawn in stall 20 he is the 7/1 favourite with StanJames.com at the time of writing but he must be a leading player for his trainer, and sprint-king, Dandy Nicholls. Further rain will only play into the selection’s hands and he looks a sound bet for what is sure to be a ferociously competitive race.
Gt St Wilfred-Nr No Bet, (ew 1/4 the first 4): prices from StanJames.com
10 Noverre To Go
11 Wildcat Wizard
14 Signor Peltro
14 Favourite Girl
The lightly-raced Akhmatova (4.05) has been raised 4lbs for finishing second at York last time and has yet to race on anything other than fast ground, but she is certainly bred to appreciate softer conditions and she can return to winning ways in the fillies’ handicap, on what will hopefully be a highly profitable day for punters.