Eight exciting colts have been declared for the Group One showpiece at Newmarket on Saturday. Harry Allwood has put each contender under the microscope and reveals who he is siding with.
It is likely we will see a future star at Newmarket on Saturday judged by the calibre of the eight declared for this year’s Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes.
The Group One showpiece over six furlongs has been won by some high-class colts in recent years, including Dream Ahead, Ten Sovereigns and U S Navy Flag.
Each contender in this year's contest has shown bundles of potential, and bookmakers are unable to split Method and Minzaal at the head of the betting.
It is sure to be an informative contest, and you can watch who fares best live on Racing TV at 3.00pm.
Trainer: John Joseph Murphy. Jockey: Tom Marquand. Rating: 105. Best odds: 50-1.
Positives: Got off the mark in style over seven furlongs at the Curragh in August and was still in contention until the final furlong in the National Stakes last time out, so the step back to six furlongs is likely to suit here. The in-form Tom Marquand is also booked to ride for the first time.
Negatives: Failed to land a blow on his first start at Group One level and needs to raise his game to be involved in the finish here.
Verdict: It will be interesting to see how he fares over six furlongs as he has shown plenty of speed in his races, but this is going to be a tough task judged on the form he has shown so far.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Jockey: Ryan Moore. Rating: 99. Best odds: 18-1.
Positives: Was only beaten half a length by Lucky Vega at Naas in June and shaped better than the bare result suggests after breaking slowly in the Coventry Stakes plus also shaped as though a step up in trip would suit on that occasion. His victory last time out following a 78-day break should have blown any cobwebs away and Aidan O’Brien has won this race six times.
Negatives: He was found a good opportunity at Navan this month, so it was a shade disappointing he could not win with more authority. On the form he has shown so far, he needs to step up again.
Verdict: Aidan O’Brien’s runners always have to be respected in this race. However, Lipizzaner meets some high-class colts here and will need to take a big step forward to trouble the main protagonists.
Trainer: Jessica Harrington. Jockey: Shane Foley. Rating: 117. Best odds: 4-1.
Positives: Showed a great turn of foot to land the Phoenix Stakes in August and that is the strongest piece of form in this race. Would have finished a lot closer had he not been denied a clear run in the National Stakes last time out and is the highest rated in this field.
Negatives: Needs to bounce back from his run last time out as he didn’t have a great experience and this will be his first run in Britain.
Verdict: Looked very useful in the Phoenix and it is easy to put a line through his latest effort. The one to beat on the form he has shown this season.
Trainer: Martyn Meade. Jockey: Frankie Dettori. Rating: 106. Best odds: 5-2.
Positives: The form of his debut success has worked out well with the runner-up, Fev Rover, landing a Group Two in August and Method has looked a future Group performer on both starts. Impressed again when landing the Rose Bowl Stakes last time out, quickly brushing aside a useful field.
Negatives: Hard to fault him so far, although he has less experience than his rivals, and ten of the past 12 winners of this race had run at least three times.
Verdict: Difficult to know how good he is, and he has already beaten Group winners. Faces stiffer opposition here, but no doubting he has a big engine.
Trainer: Owen Burrows. Jockey: Jim Crowley. Rating: 112. Best odds: 11-4.
Positives: Has progressed nicely in three starts so far and had no trouble brushing aside his rivals in the Gimcrack on his latest start. Connections were quick to mention how much speed he had after that success and this race has been the plan since.
Negatives: A couple of his main rivals failed to show their true colours in the Gimcrack and he is unproven with cut in the ground. It hasn’t stopped him winning, but he has also been slowly away on his past two starts.
Verdict: Hard to know just how good he is and is likely to have plenty more improvement left in him, so is certainly one for the shortlist.
Trainer: Clive Cox. Jockey: Adam Kirby. Rating: 115. Best odds: 9-2.
Positives: Improved enormously from his debut effort to win in style at Windsor, and proved that effort was no fluke with victory in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood. Defeated a decent field in that Group Two contest and is improving at a rate of knots.
Negatives: The Richmond didn’t look the strongest race and a few of his rivals there have let the form down since. He also had the run of the race for both his victories and has only raced on good ground.
Verdict: Firmly on the up and one of the highest rated in this field. Still needs to prove himself at Group One level though, and others have stronger form.
Trainer: Andrew Balding. Jockey: William Buick. Rating: 107. Best odds: 12-1.
Positives: Royal Ascot winner who has shown a useful level of form, including when successful in the July Stakes at Newmarket where he showed a good attitude. Has also proved he handles cut in the ground and is the only horse in this field with course form.
Negatives: Disappointed on his first start at Group One level on his last start and needs to prove he is up to this grade. He is also another who needs to step forward again to lower the colours of the leading players.
Verdict: Excuses can be made for his below-par run in the Prix Morny and he deserves another chance at this level. This is a red-hot race though and has place claims at best.
Trainer: Michael Bell. Jockey: Oisin Murphy. Rating: 107. Best odds: 16-1.
Positives: Norfolk Stakes winner who has shown plenty of speed and it’s hard to knock his consistency so far. Finished runner-up at Group One level when last seen and is proven with give underfoot.
Negatives: Was no match for Lucky Vega in the Phoenix Stakes and has work to do to reverse form with that rival. He also needs to prove a strongly-run race over this trip is ideal for him.
Verdict: Probably needs a few to underperform to go close here and I think his future will lie over five furlongs.
It is hard to know how much each contender is going to improve here and all eight contenders have bundles of ability and bright futures.
Method has won both his starts with ease and although he is yet to contest a Group race, he has beaten horses who have gone on to win Group races.
Minzaal may have been slightly flattered with his victory last time out, but he was still mightily impressive and it was hard not to ignore the confidence connections have in their youngster afterwards.
However, LUCKY VEGA is a Group One winner and is the one to beat on ratings. He travelled extremely well and put the race to bed in the style of a very good horse when landing the Phoenix Stakes in August.
Jessica Harrington’s charge did well to finish as close as he did in the National Stakes given the trouble he met in running and he can make amends on Saturday provided he gets a clear run this time.
Recommended bet: Back Lucky Vega to win at a general 4-1.
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