It’s soft ground for Newbury’s big Saturday card and the first race looks a cracker, with a mixture of tall reputations and Group One winners.
Midterm trades favourite from his stablemate Across The Stars – both horses put up by these pages in the past year.
Having had our fingers burnt a few times we’re not in any particular rush to back either – though Across The Stars frustratingly won at Royal Ascot the start after we selected him at 33/1 for the Derby.
He makes his reappearance and I’m not sure soft ground is ideal – at least Ryan Moore doesn’t think so in his Betfair column – while Midterm has already had a run, when once again a beaten favourite.
That’s something he’s made a habit of – and it’s his regal breeding that offers so much hope.
However, trainer Sir Michael Stoute is best known for his four-year-olds so we shouldn’t rule him out quite yet.
How he is shorter in the betting than soft-ground lover and Group One winner HAWKBILL I don’t know, so that horse looks the obvious bet.
This mile-and-a-half distance is a bit of an unknown, but the horse should be match fit after a decent enough reappearance in Group One company in France, and thrived during the early parts of last season, racking up a six-race winning streak culminating with a win over The Gurkha in the Eclipse at Sandown.
He carries no penalty for that success so they all race off level weights here, and I’m very sceptical about the handicapper’s assessment he’s just 2lb better than Midterm after that horse has achieved the best part of f*** all in his disappointing career.
Midterm was brushed aside by Makahiki on Arc trials day before that horse practically came last in the Arc itself, whilst the form of his 5th in last season’s Dante Stakes has been knocked back several times since.
Far more worthy of a high rating is Group One winner My Dream Boat, who like Hawkbill steps up in trip.
He managed to beat Arc winner Found at Royal Ascot last year and might have been feeling the effects of that race when behind Hawkbill in the Eclipse, but he thrives with cut in the ground and really held his own at Group One level over ten furlongs last season.
I rate him the main threat, but Hawkbill should be favourite in my book and, as such, he’s given a strong vote as the value bet.
2pts win Hawkbill @4/1, 13:50 Newbury, Saturday