Harry Allwood puts the eight contenders in Saturday's Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket under the microscope in our runner-by-runner guide plus reveals his each-way fancy.
Will we see a future champion in action at Newmarket on Saturday? It's certainly likely, with Native Trail, the ante-post favourite for next year's 2000 Guineas, a red-hot favourite for the Darley Dewhurst Stakes, live on Racing TV at 2.55pm.
At the time of writing, the ground is good to soft at HQ. However, with sunny spells forecast ahead of the weekend, along with above-average temperatures for this time of year, I would expect the ground to be good on Saturday.
Aidan O'Brien will be seeking to win the race for the eighth time, although does not have a standout contender this year, with his sole runner being Glounthaune who has been off the track since his debut in April, and is chalked up at a general 12-1.
With the likes of New Approach, Frankel and St Mark's Basilica previous winners of this Group One showpiece, lets hope we see an impressive performance from one of the colts below that signals a future champion in the making.
Trainer: Roger Varian. Rating: 112. General odds: 5-1.
Positives: Found only Masekala too good in a Listed contest at Newbury in August, and Andrew Balding’s charge was narrowly beaten by Native Trail on his previous start, so that form line gives him a good chance in this. Defeated a useful field, including the 114-rated Reach For The Moon, in the Champagne Stakes where a steady gallop would have been against him. He is also the second-highest rated contender in this field.
Negatives: It is hard to know exactly how good the form of his Doncaster victory is as his three rivals appeared to run below-par, and he has shaped like a horse who will be suited by further in time, so would not want the ground too quick on Saturday.
Verdict: The main danger to Native Trail on ratings and, with further progress on the horizon, he is one to consider.
Trainer: Andrew Balding. Rating: 109. General odds: 25-1.
Positives: Stayed on powerfully to win the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot following his taking debut win, and suggested on both occasions an extra furlong would be within reach. Unlucky not to finish closer behind Angel Bleu at Goodwood on his first start over this trip, especially as the race was not run to suit on soft ground, and should be suited by conditions on Saturday.
Negatives: Travelled well before folding quite tamely in the Gimcrack last time out, and Oisin Murphy reported the youngster ran flat. That does leave him with a bit to prove now.
Verdict: Needs to bounce back, but is a shade overpriced at 25-1 on the form he showed earlier in the season, especially as the step back up to seven furlongs should suit.
Trainer: John and Thady Gosden. Rating: 104. General odds: 25-1.
Positives: Produced a good speed figure on debut and was unlucky not to finish closer behind Berkshire Shadow when a never-nearer sixth in the Coventry. Travelled well and looked as though he was going to defeat Native Trail (hit 1.09 in-running) before weakening near the finish in the Superlative Stakes. Should strip fitter following his latest outing after a break and remains with potential.
Negatives: It appeared as though this No Nay Never colt ran out of stamina over seven furlongs at Newmarket, so needs to prove he stays this trip, despite the fact he has been staying on towards the finish on his outings over six furlongs.
Verdict: Needs to improve again to land a blow, and still looked green under pressure at Newbury, so is probably a youngster who will be better next year.
Trainer: Hugo Palmer. Rating: 97. General odds: 20-1.
Positives: Strong in the market when creating a huge impression on debut at Doncaster where he clocked some decent sectionals once the pace quickened, and scoped dirty following his disappointing run in the Acomb Stakes. Despite having an excuse on his latest outing, he was only beaten just over four lengths, and the winner has since won a Group Two. Held in high regard by connections and certainly has the potential to be a Group One performer.
Negatives: The form of his debut win has not worked out that well, and he hasn’t had the best prep ahead of this contest. Returns here following a short break and has plenty to find on the ratings.
Verdict: Worth a go at this level with the amount of potential he has, despite the fact he lacks experience. He also impressed connections in a recent racecourse gallop.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Rating: -- General odds: 12-1.
Positives: Broke well and showed a good attitude after being headed to win a 6f maiden on debut in April. The form of that race has worked out well as the runner-up, Castle Star, has won a Group Three since plus went close in the Middle Park. Aidan O’Brien has won this race seven times and Glounthaune is bred to stay at least seven furlongs.
Negatives: Lacks experience and has been absent for the best part of six months. Will have needed to take a big step forward since his debut to land a blow here and meets rivals with some strong form.
Verdict: Must be held in high regard by his powerful connections to be aimed at a race of his nature on just his second start and, with O’Brien’s juveniles in good form, he is one to consider, despite this being a big challenge.
Trainer: David Loughnane. Rating: 110. General odds: 25-1.
Positives: Consistent performer in Group contests this year and has been beaten a length on each of his past two starts at the highest level, including in the Middle Park last time out. Has already proved he handles this track and brings some strong form to the table. The way he has kept finding under pressure this season suggests a tilt at this trip is wise – his breeding also points to him staying further - and he appears versatile ground-wise.
Negatives: Had quite a hard race a fortnight ago, and will need to have recovered from those exertions. Has found a few too good, despite not being beaten far, on his attempts in Group Ones, and will need to improve again to make it third time lucky at this level.
Verdict: Likely to be on the premises again, and is sure to be popular with the each-way players, given his consistency.
Trainer: Charlie Appleby. Rating: 122. General odds: 8-11.
The Verdict: Just how good was Native Trail's win in the National Stakes? Angus McNae provides his expert analysis
Positives: Unbeaten colt who scrambled home on his previous start in the Superlative Stakes where he ran green under pressure, and also raced keenly. Shaped like a potential champion though when defeating Point Lonsdale in the National Stakes last time out and also defeated Group Two winner Royal Patronage on debut. He’s already ante-post favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas and is 10lb clear of his nearest rival on ratings. Charlie Appleby also continues in fine form.
Negatives: You could argue he defeated a below-par Point Lonsdale at the Curragh as Aidan O’Brien’s horses were not firing that weekend and Ebro River, who finished third, has run below-par since. He would also not want the ground too quick, as that was probably against him when he won at Newmarket (William Buick also said afterwards he would probably prefer some dig in the ground).
Verdict: There’s lots to like about this son of Oasis Dream who still looked to be learning under pressure on his latest start, and his rivals need to up their game to lower his colours.
Trainer: Ger Lyons. Rating: -- General odds: 11-2.
Positives: Has been supplemented for this contest following his impressive Listed victory at Fairyhouse in September. Unbeaten in two starts - both over six furlongs - and has looked professional for a youngster with little experience. His pedigree suggests he will improve for the extra furlong here and drying ground will suit him as, despite winning on soft ground on debut, he handled a quicker surface better last time out.
Negatives: Had the run of the race at Fairyhouse and the form of his two victories does not look overly strong in a race of this nature. We are also likely to see the best of him next year.
Verdict: Hard to know exactly how good he is and it is interesting connections have decided to supplement him.
HARRY'S BIG-RACE VERDICT:
No prizes for originality, but Native Trail is the one to beat here and it is no surprise to see he is odds-on.
What impressed me the most about his National Stakes win was that he still didn't look the finished article under pressure, yet still managed to beat a high-class rival in a stylish manner.
He is only going to improve, and another impressive victory here would see him shorten again for next year's 2000 Guineas.
The one conern is, if the ground does dry out and conditions are on the quick side, that will be against him and, at the prices, I would rather side with a contender each-way who has place claims.
The one who catches the eye at 16-1 is DUBAWI LEGEND who was visually ultra-impressive when winning on debut and, despite the fact that race hasn't worked out that well, he clocked some decent sectionals when he quickened off a slow pace.
It is best to excuse his below-par effort last time out as he scoped dirty afterwards, and the vibes from his connections are strong. He is a top of the ground horse, and should get his favoured conditions on Saturday, judging by the weather forecast, so is worth chancing at double-figure odds to build on his early potential.
Recommended bet: Back DUBAWI LEGEND each-way at a general 16-1.
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