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Five key runners for the Cambridgeshire meeting at Newmarket

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Fri 23 Sep 2022

There are six days of wonderful racing at Newmarket between now and October 8, not to mention the Book One Yearling Sale at nearby Tattersalls when some of the best bred youngsters in the world will be up for auction.

The three-day Cambridgeshire meeting gets under way on Thursday, live on Racing TV, with my colleague, Harry Allwood, already having suggested a couple of bets for the headline race, for which 44 horses remain in the mix.


How To Bet £20 ante-post on the bet365 Cambridgeshire


Below are five other runners, or at least possible runners, to keep in mind.


BLACKBEARD

Race: Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes. When: 3.00 on Saturday.

Blackbeard's behaviour at the start can keep lads, lasses and his jockey on their toes!

The famous pirate of the same name would apparently put lit fuses under his hat to make him appear more terrifying. You could be forgiven for thinking that the equine version lights a few of his own, given some of his pre-race antics, but that hasn’t stopped him winning five of his seven races (three of them in pattern company) during a fruitful campaign.

His latest success confirmed he was still on the up, being achieved in the Group One Prix Morny at the expense of Persian Force and The Antarctic. It will be a surprise if he does not confirm his superiority over that pair.

He’s not dissimilar to the admirable U S Navy Flag, who had raced nine times before landing this prize for Aidan O’Brien in 2017, and he shares the same sire (No Nay Never) as the trainer’s last Middle Park winner, Ten Sovereigns, in 2018.

Ten Sovereigns was one of eight winners at Newmarket for O’Brien that season but, remarkably, it has been a whole year since O’Brien last had a winner at the track, via Tenebrism in the Cheveley Park.

Indeed, since 2020 he’s had only four winners at Headquarters (Rowley Mile and July Course) from 55 runners. He seems keen to bolster that strike-rate of 7.2 per cent over the coming days with plenty of high-profile entries to juggle.


ROYAL SCANDAL

Race: Princess Royal Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Stakes When: 2.25 on Friday.

Here’s a bit of trivia for you. Royal Scandal, bred/owned by Tim Vestey and trained by James Fanshawe, has had three starts, winning twice on the all-weather and being beaten at Doncaster. At the same stage of her career, Royal Scandal’s dam, Sea Of Approval, representing the same team, had also won twice on the all-weather and suffered a reverse at Town Moor.

Seal Of Approval won a Listed contest on her fourth outing before ending the year with victory in the Fillies & Mares’ Stakes on Champions Day. Royal Scandal now also seeks black type on her fourth start and is entered in the Fillies & Mares. She should have perhaps been christened Mirror Image.

She clearly has a long way to go if she is to keep emulating her mum, but she won in unbelievable fashion from off the pace on her debut, at Newcastle, and was a decisive victor at Kempton last time. Her defeat at Doncaster, in between, in a nonsense of a three-runner event, is easily excused.

The official ratings suggest Royal Scandal is up against it, but this will be her first opportunity to show what she can do at a higher level and she has bags of potential. She's 14-1 on Friday, plus a general 20-1 for the Fillies & Mares.


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RAGE OF BAMBY

Race: Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Rockfel Stakes. When: 3.00 on Friday.

Saxon Warrior had his first Group winner as a sire in France at the weekend, via Victoria Road, and Rage Of Bambi may swiftly provide him with another.

She changed hands for €35,000 as a yearling and looks something of a bargain after winning her first two starts at Newbury and Leicester for Eve Johnson Houghton.

Rage Of Bamby edged out the more experienced Dandy Alys on her debut and that form was franked when the runner-up subsequently finished runner-up in the Sweet Solera.

And there was plenty to like about the way she trounced 11 rivals under a penalty on her second start, when winning in a good time. She looks well worth her place at this higher level and the front-running tactics employed at Leicester last time should serve her well on the Rowley Mile as those racing near the pace can be hard to peg back when the ground is on the quick side.

The biggest field since 2008 has been declared and it promises to be informative with Olivia Maralda, runner-up to Meditate in the Debutante Stakes, and Commissioning, a stoutly bred daughter of Kingman who impressed on her debut, being among the opposition.


FLYING HONOURS

Race: Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes When: 1.50 on Saturday.

The Verdict: Angus McNae takes a look at the latest win of Flying Honours

I imagine a few folk at Charlie Appleby's lavish Moulton Paddocks base were scratching their heads after Flying Honour had finished out of the places on his debut over 7f at Newmarket’s July Meeting having gone off at Evens.

That initial experience was clearly needed, though, and his subsequent runaway wins at Sandown and Salisbury – by an aggregate of 15 lengths when again backed off the boards each time – have gone a long way to erasing the memory of that initial defeat.

Flying Honours won by almost ten lengths at Sandown when kept to 7f and then, unleashed over a mile, was impressive in thumping Stormbuster (a good winner since) by 5½ lengths at Salisbury last time.

The Sea The Stars colt, out of a Group Three-winning Dubawi mare, has plenty going for him. He’s 33-1 for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and I wouldn’t put you off getting involved.


RANCH HAND

Race: Jockey Club Rose Bowl Stakes When: 3.35 on Thursday

This will be his first run for 14 months but he’s won first time out in two of his three seasons and I imagine Andrew Balding will have him pretty straight for his belated return.

The six-year-old was a convincing winner of this race two years ago, when the outsider of four, and his efforts in the first half of last year included splitting Lismore and Ocean Wind in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown.

This isn’t a deep renewal and, if he’s somewhere near his best, then the 6-1 on offer would look chunky. His front-running stablemate, Nate The Grate, arrives with a bit to prove, while Thunderous, the odds-on favourite, has not got his head in front for more than two years. Ranch Hand had the same official rating (108) as him when last in action and, quite simply, he should go close if somewhere near his best.

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