Ross Millar takes an in-depth look at the three feature contests on the final day of the Cambridgeshire Meeting at Newmarket on Saturday.
What a weekend of racing we have to look forward to. Newmarket host a pair of Group One contests – the Cheveley Park and the Middle Park - as well as the Group Two Royal Lodge, while the Group Two Beresford Stakes takes centre stage at the Curragh.
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Andrew Balding has had a fantastic season, and with champion trainer title still up for grabs, he will be hoping Masekela can move him £56,000 closer to the prize.
The market makes this a three-horse race, and that’s hard to argue with. Of the seven runners, only Masekela, Coroebus and Royal Patronage have shown the level of form required to win this.
Royal Patronage caused a big upset when taking his form to a different level in the Acomb Stakes last time out where he saw out the seven-furlong trip well, suggesting this step up to a mile will suit.
I am suspicious of the form, though, and in a muddling race he was gifted an easy lead due to the jockeys on the three market principles only focusing on each other. I can’t see that happening again here.
Charlie Appleby and Godolphin have the usual battalion of high-class juveniles this season and Coroebus, a son of Dubawi, was well backed ahead of his debut run and duly obliged in smart style.
That win came over this trip at Newmarket, so course and race conditions hold no fear for him. He is the least experienced of the field, and that is a negative. However, it must be said that he did look very professional for a debutant.
Saga who finished second behind him, won on his next start, but the third placed, Splendent, has since been well beaten in an ordinary novice contest at Goodwood. Coroebus has buckets of potential, but his inexperience is a concern.
Masekela is a short price but is the worthy favourite. He holds the two best pieces of form in the race and showed great tenacity and stamina to beat the highly-regarded Bayside Boy at Newbury over seven furlongs last time out.
He narrowly failed to overhaul Native Trail at Newmarket prior to that, and Native Trail has since given that form a strong boost by running out a wide-margin winner of a Group One.
Both Masekela’s pedigree and performances suggest that stepping up to a mile is going to suit and I expect him to step forward again. I would be disappointed if he were to get beaten here.
The unbeaten Sacred Bridge arrives at Newmarket with a lofty reputation and has been installed as the short-priced favourite.
Her last run, when winning a Group Three, was visually very impressive as she showed a good change of gear and strong stamina to draw away to win by three lengths, although Geocentric, the runner-up, has since been beaten about the same distance in a Listed race at Ayr.
Scrutiny of the form of her win at Naas in August also leaves me with doubts as she beat the 95-rated Bosh by half a length in receipt of 2lb.
She’s clearly on the upgrade and might well be capable of more improvement but, at a short price, I am keen to take her on.
Sandrine and Zain Claudette fought out a thrilling finish in the Lowther Stakes last month. On that occasion, Zain Claudette prevailed by a length but she was though in receipt of 3lb from Sandrine, and now has to compete off level weights.
Sandrine also had to challenge from a fair way back at York and I fully expect Oisin Murphy to have her closer to the pace this time.
This stiffer track will bring out improvement in both fillies, as they were very strong at the finish, but I think Sandrine will reverse the form this time.
Flotus delivered on the abundant promise shown on her debut when finally winning again on her latest start.
She was the recipient of an excellent, and stereotypical, Silvestre de Sousa ride, so whilst James Doyle is a high-class replacement, I can’t help feeling the change in jockey compromises her chances.
Corazon and Illustrating are another pair who bring closely matched form, and Illustrating was a fast-finishing third in a 5f Group Three won by Corazon at ParisLongchamp last time out
Of the two, Illustrating looks to be the better suited by this step up in trip and I would expect her to finish in front of Corazon this time.
Tenebrism featured in one of the very first Juvenile Watch columns. She ran out a facile winner on debut against the colts and, at the time, I marked the run up as I thought that, for a filly to do that against colts at such an early stage of the season, was impressive.
Confidence in the performance was further boosted when the third placed, Lord Gorgeous, won his next start.
She has been off the track since that March debut, though, and the passing of time has cast a few doubts over the form, with only one other winner emerging from that race.
It can be viewed as a positive that her powerful connections send her for this contest on just her second start, especially when they had other options closer to home.
The trip should suit, and I could see her out-running her current odds.
Regular readers will know I am a fully paid-up member of the Eve Lodge fan club and I was delighted to see her get back to winning ways last time at Kempton.
That run received a boost of real substance when the second placed, Wings Of War, narrowly won the Mill Reef Stakes from the Kempton third-placed, Hierachy.
If any rain were to fall, I would be a big supporter, but the forecast suggests quick conditions, and that must surely make her a doubtful runner.
The selection at a double-figure price is Desert Dreamer. Stuart Williams’ filly has been admirably consistent and has also suffered a few hard-luck stories, notably last time when a slipping saddle undoubtedly effected her performance when third in the Lowther.
She has multiple strands of form that tie her in closely with both Zain Claudette and Sandrine, including over course and distance, and if getting her share of luck, she won’t be far away.
It is surely notable that the connections of Perfect Power have tempted Christophe Soumillon over for this. He gave this colt a masterful, and daring, ride when winning the Prix Morny and that is the best form on offer, so he looks very hard to beat.
Dr Zempf has shown good form in his last two starts, both at the Curragh, and he raced too keenly when fourth behind Go Bears Go in the Railway Stakes before improving to reverse that form when finishing second to Ebro River in the Phoenix Stakes.
Castle Star is another that has form that ties in with Go Bears Go. He has twice finished a length behind him, and I struggle to find any reason why that would change on Saturday.
Armor is starting to look ground dependent and it looks unlikely that conditions will be soft enough for him; he was behind Perfect Power in the Morny and didn’t convince that he truly stayed the six-furlong trip.
Asymmetric is already a Group Two winner courtesy of his victory in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood. On that occasion, he finished just in front of Perfect Power, but that rival had a troubled passage and subsequently emphatically reversed that form in the Morny.
Go Bears Go and Caturra both look overpriced. The former may not have enjoyed the yielding ground on his last start and, back on quick ground, I could see him reversing form with Dr Zempf.
The selection, again at a double-figure price, is Caturra. He narrowly beat the re-opposing Armor in the Flying Childers over five furlongs on his last start and looks sure to be suited by stepping back up in trip on this quick ground.Don't miss out! Watch all the meetings that matter this Autumn with a FREE month of Racing TV! Click here for more details.
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