By Graham Clark
Ralph Beckett hopes his long term plan for Lucander can finally come to fruition 12 months later than expected in the bet365 Cambridgeshire at Newmarket after admitting defeat in last year’s race was a “tough pill to swallow.”
Having found only the Paul and Oliver Cole-trained Majestic Dawn too strong in the nine furlong contest last year the gelded son of Footstepsinthesand will try avenge that defeat by giving Beckett his first success in the race. The first leg of the “Autumn Double”, the bet365 Cambridgeshire is a Heritage Handicap and takes place on Saturday 25th September, day three of the Cambridgeshire Meeting.
Although Lucander only finished fourth in the same race at York he claimed 12 months ago before running in the Cambridgeshire, the Kimpton Down handler reports the four year old to be “fresh” ahead of his return to the Rowley Mile.
Beckett said: “I’ve still not really got over him getting beat in the race last year. We had him set up for it. He went there in really good form on the back of a win at York.
“Mr Cole outfoxed us all by putting blinkers on Majestic Dawn on the right day. It was a tough pill to swallow as I thought he had a terrific chance.
“It will be tough again this year but he is slightly lower in the weights and if he gets the right draw he could go well as it is a race that really suits him.
“I thought it was a good run last time at York. He hit the front then as you saw he just got worried out of it. He is a horse that enjoys having something to aim at.
“With his previous start not having gone well for him, it definitely showed he was on the way back.
“He has been a good fun horse and I’d love him to win a race like this.”
Lucander is currently a 28-1 chance for the Cambridgeshire with sponsor bet365.
The Classic winning handler believes impressive first time out July Course scorer Girl On Film is capable of taking a step up in class in her stride when putting her unbeaten record on the line in the Group Two Rockfel Stakes (Friday 24th September).
He said: “It is quite a big ask for her given the size and shape of her but I’m keen to run her in the Rockfel.
“We have got to make sure we are not going do anything that is too much for her at this stage as it is all about next year with her.
“She has very good mind and constitution and I think she will take it. She had been showing up well at home but I didn’t think she would know enough to win first time up and she was very green. Rossa (Ryan) taught her plenty.
“She was a bit more streetwise than I expected her to be and that is why I’m not that concerned about going straight to the Rockfel.
“I think she will go a mile but I doubt she will go further than that. I see her as a miler so we will see if I’m right or not.”
Albaflora, runner-up last time out in the Group One Darley Yorkshire Oaks, will attempt to make her class count when dropping down to Group Three company earlier on Friday’s card in the Princess Royal Stakes, a race Beckett feels is a “good place” for the four year old.
He said: “She is going to run in the Princess Royal as Miss Rausing is keen to make her a Group winner understandably and she is still only a Listed winner.
“It was a huge run in the Yorkshire Oaks and the Princess Royal would suit her well as she is a very adaptable filly.
“If things went right there she would either go to the Fillies’ and Mares race on Champions Day or the Grosser Preis Von Bayern in Germany right at the backend.”
Ground conditions will dictate whether Beckett allows Ebor fifth Max Vega to return to the scene of his success in the 2019 Zetland Stakes victory and let him take his chance in the Listed Jockey Club Rose Bowl Stakes (Thursday 23rd September).
He said: “The plan is to send Max Vega to the Jockey Club Rose Bowl and that would suit him well if we get some rain.
“He copes with quicker ground fine as we saw in the Ebor as the rain hadn’t really got into the ground.
“He ran a big race that day without getting the rub of the green. The Jockey Club Rose Bowl is a race written for him so we would like to go there.”
Looking ahead to next month’s Dubai Future Champions Festival, Beckett has not ruled out the prospect of running Group Two Vintage Stakes winner Angel Bleu in the Group One Darley Dewhurst Stakes (Saturday 9th October).
He said: “He is still a possible for the Dewhurst. I think it really suits him going around a bend funnily enough and that is what the form book tells us so going to Longchamp for the Lagardere is a good idea.
“He ran back-to-back at Ascot and Goodwood and we have freshened him up now so we will leave him in the Dewhurst and I wouldn’t mind running him back-to-back again and if we felt he was up for it we would do that if all our ducks were in a row.”
Angel Bleu’s participation in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes may remain fluid, however Beckett has hinted that first time out Salisbury scorer Good American is likely to make her next start in the Group Three Godolphin Lifetime Care Oh So Sharp Stakes (Friday 8th October).
He said: “Good American will probably head to the Oh So Sharp as that would fit her well.
“I thought it was a real good effort as she went toe-to-toe with Hamseh and kind of set it up for the closers I felt.
“She managed to bat them all away as well. She has come out of it really well.”
Having been forced to miss an outing in the Group Two Joel Stakes next Friday with New Mandate, the Group One winning handler is now considering aiming last year’s Royal Lodge Stakes scorer at the Group Three Darley Stakes (Saturday 9th October).
Beckett said: “He hasn’t really been healthy all year. He came back from America and had some work done on his knees.
“He had a busy autumn last year and only won his nursery on the 22nd of August before going for the Flying Scotsman, the Royal Lodge then to the Breeders’ Cup.
“I’d love to have run in the Joel Stakes as the Rowley Mile suits him well but there is the Darley Stakes for him a couple of weeks later and I think he would get the nine furlongs no problem.”Don't miss out! Watch all the meetings that matter this Autumn with a FREE month of Racing TV! Click here for more details.
Select any odd to add a bet