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Six key Cambridgeshire runners and how to bet £20 ante-post

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Tue 21 Sep 2021

No trainer has won more renewals of the bet365 Cambridgeshire than John Gosden and few people will look further than him, and his son Thady, when it comes to solving Saturday’s renewal at Newmarket.

Gosden Sr has won the nine-furlong feature on five occasions, whereas such as Sir Michael Stoute, William Haggas, Mark Johnston, Andrew Balding and Roger Varian are still searching for their first success.

Three of Gosden’s winners - Halling (1994), Pipedreamer (2007) and Lord North (2019) - have been the proverbial “Group Horse in a handicap” and it might be that Uncle Bryn, the shortest-priced of his four contenders for this weekend and clear ante-post favourite, fits into that category.

 Uncle Bryn is hot favourite despite being badly in at the weights (Focusonracing)
Uncle Bryn is hot favourite despite being badly in at the weights (Focusonracing)

Uncle Bryn was considered a potential Derby horse earlier in the year before badly fluffing his lines in the Dante. Gosden suggested afterwards he “needed to grow up” and a gelding operation swiftly followed before he reappeared in a handicap at Ascot last month, and won without being fully extended.

However, it wasn’t the deepest of races and he only went up 2lb for that success in the official ratings, so he is actually badly in under his 4lb penalty. At a best price of 5-1, I’m happy to let him slide and my focus is on the six below for a £120,000 race which seems certain to be contested by a maximum field of 35.

Twelve millimetres of rain fell at the track on Sunday left the ground “good to soft” but it was dry on Monday and is expected to stay that week all week, with periods of sunshine. Even with heavy dews at this time of the year, I’d imagine the ground could end up on the quick side of “good”.

1. CHICHESTER

Trainer: Keith Dalgleish. Best odds: general 12-1

He’s got to be on any shortlist after bolting up by more than six lengths over 1m2f at Ayr Gold Cup Festival last week. Watch a replay above.

A true-run race and first-time visor invigorated him, as he tanked through what looked a competitive race and thumped some decent opposition without being fully extended. His 4lb penalty means he will sneak in towards the bottom of the field and in future he will race off a 9lb higher mark.

Chichester has been running well all season, finishing third in the Zetland Gold Cup and winning the Carlisle Bell, but the four-year-old simply looked a different proposition in the new headgear.

The niggle is whether the race might come a bit quick, or whether the visor will again have such a stimulating effect. But he didn’t look to have a hard race and his connections will surely let him take his chance if he is none the worse for his exertions.

2. FASTNET CROWN

Trainer: Michael O’Callaghan. Best odds: 40-1 with William Hill

If a runner trained in Scotland does not win, then perhaps one from Irish shores will prevail.

Fastnet Crown ran a remarkable race when a staying-on third in the 27-runner Irish Cambridgeshire over a mile at The Curragh last time as he only had a couple behind him with two furlongs to run and ended up isolated on the stands’ side, whereas all the main action was unfolding on the opposite side of the track. Watch above.

Bopedro, the decisive winner, did his bit for the form when looking unlucky not to follow up off a 9lb higher mark at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend.

The extra furlong is a question mark for Fastnet Crown, but it didn’t look like it would be a problem for him last time, even allowing for the fact that he won a big-field 6f handicap at The Curragh in July. Unraced at two, he won over a mile last year and his commendable efforts in sprints might just be a red herring.

3. SPIRIT DANCER

Trainer: Richard Fahey. Best odds: 25-1 with Betfair, Paddy Power and William Hill

Watch a full replay of last year's Cambridgeshire. Majestic Dawn could be back to defend his crown but is much higher in the weights

Richard Fahey landed the Cambridgeshire with the progressive Third Time Lucky in 2014 and Spirit Dancer’s profile is not dissimilar. The Frankel gelding is a year older, but he’s had one less run than Third Time Lucky did when lining up, with his rating of 94 (he will run off 93 on Saturday) being 1lb lower.

Two of his past three runs have been at Chester and, while he has run most creditably, I’m not sure that tight track is what he wants. He certainly looked happier at the more galloping Newcastle, in between, when winning handsomely over 1m2f.

The one niggle is the drying ground because, up to now, he’s only ever raced on artificial surfaces or going that has had some juice in it. However, there is nothing in his breeding to suggest he will not cope with quicker conditions and, at 25-1, he warrants a second look.

I was also half-interested in Fahey’s other contender, Hartswood, who has had excuses since a solid run at York in May. He should not be a 66-1 chance, but you cannot back them all.

4. ASTRO KING

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute. Best odds: general 14-1

I flagged him up as a likely contender for this race after his staying-on third in the Clipper Logistics Stakes over just short of a mile at York’s Ebor meeting last month.

He kept on well to be beaten about a length and the form is working out well. The overall pace of that York race was not strong and, when the tempo quickened, Astro King was either unable to keep up, or simply lost a bit of concentration.

He looked like falling back through the field approaching the final furlong but then the Kingman colt belatedly got rolling again.

Astro King’s efforts earlier this season included placed efforts in the Thirsk Hunt Cup and Royal Hunt Cup, when first home on his side of the track. His latest effort was not the first time he had indicated that a bit further would play to his strengths and you can put a line through his one effort when tried over further, in the John Smith’s Cup, as he finished lame.

He’s never run at Newmarket but there’s nothing to suggest the Rowley Mile will inconvenience him. It will be interesting to see if Stoute equips him with some of headgear but I’ll leave that part of the equation to him.

5. ROYAL MARINE

Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor. Best odds: 16-1 with bet365 and Sky Bet

Saeed bin Suroor scooped the Royal Hunt Cup with Real World after the colt had been off more than three months since some average efforts in Dubai.

Can he repeat the trick with Royal Marine? I wouldn’t be surprised because he has enough hits in his back catalogue to make him a serious contender.

A Group One winner at two, he struggled when rubbing shoulders with the best as a three-year-old. The past two years have been something of a mixed bag, including at Meydan at the start of the year, but he ran a cracker when beaten a neck by Ilaraab in a Newbury handicap (watch above) at this time last year, and on that form alone he is well-treated.

He’s been off for six months, but I regard that as a positive because Bin Suroor is a master at having his horses in peak form for big assignments after such an absence.

6. MAGICAL MORNING

Trainer: John & Thady Gosden. Best odds: general 20-1

Uncle Bryn seems to be the stable’s No 1, at least according to the bookmakers, but don’t overlook Magical Morning.

He’s come up short in two other big mile handicaps this year – the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot and Golden Mile at Goodwood – but he palpably needed the run on the first occasion (travelled strongly) and possibly did not handle the softish going in the latter.

Magical Morning impressed when winning at Sandown in between those runs and did little wrong when touched off in a strong contest at York last time.

He’s been nudged up 2lb and I’m not sure he will confirm his superiority over Astro King, who was a place behind in third, but his form is solid and the drying ground will be in his favour.

How To Bet £20 ante-post

The trio with the biggest scope to shorten on my shortlist look to be Chichester, Fastnet Crown and Spirit Dancer. So that’s where my early cash will be going, with a saver on Astro King.

Chichester £5 win and £2 each-way at a general 12-1

£2.50 win and £2 each-way on Fastnet Crown at 40-1 with William Hill

£1.50 each-way Spirit Dancer at 25-1 with Betfair, Paddy Power and William Hill

£1.50 win on Astro King at a general 14-1

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