The going for the Group Two Betfred Hungerford Stakes at Newbury on Saturday has deteriorated to soft at the time of writing. Three-year-olds Limato, Home Of The Brave and the long-absent Richard Pankhurst have all been withdrawn, along with the race’s top-rated horse, Godolphin’s Safety Check. That’s taken some of the glamour off, yet it remains an in intriguing betting heat after all the rule four reductions.
Breton Rock has a course and distance win, but recent form offers little besides going down a head to Cable Bay when third behind Here Comes When in their 2014 Newmarket encounter, raced on soft. The re-opposing Cable Bay is having a decent season, having gone down 1 3/4 lengths to Night Of Thunder in the Group One Lockinge and winning a Group Three at Haydock. His form is patchy, but he does seem to get a softer surface so was making each-way appeal at 10/1 before all the reductions. Now trading at 11/2, there’s value elsewhere.
Here Comes When (11/4) also re-opposes and will certainly appreciate the ground. He’s been tackling the big boys this year, having gone down twice to French ace Solow and multiple-Group-One winner Night Of Thunder in the Lockinge, so his form figures of 1-2674 shouldn’t and hasn’t – from a bookmaking perspective – been discounted. The Lockinge form looks key, though, and I think the improved Cable Bay might just confirm his superiority, regardless of ground.
That Is The Spirit could be overpriced at 22/1. His trainer, David O’Meara, is in fine form and is fast becoming one of the best in his trade. His gelding has raced three times on soft, all over seven furlongs and winning all three. With conditions to suit he could outrun the odds, but the same logic could be applied to Heaven’s Guest. Having won well over seven furlongs on soft ground at Ascot on his last start, the subsequent rise in the weights has surely cost him his competitiveness in handicap company, so it’s little surprise to see him take his chance with favourable conditions at Newbury. Perhaps crucially, official ratings still have him 6lbs behind Here Comes When, and it’s hard to argue with the handicapper with such an exposed five-year old.
The one we want to be on is Adaay, who was said to find the going too fast at Royal Ascot when seventh in the Group One Commonwealth Cup. That clearly won’t be an issue tomorrow, so, therefore, could the easy going be a positive? Nobody knows – connections seemingly included – but if it is, then this particular puzzle becomes a little easier. There’s plenty of form in the book, too. Although reversed at Royal Ascot, he took the unbeaten record of Limato at Haydock and beat another highly-rated Hamdan Al Maktoum horse who’s won twice since, Waady, back in May. The re-opposing Markaz also franked another encounter in May, by winning a Group Three at Newmarket. 11/1 for a classy, yet unexposed – he’s stepping up in trip – three-year-old with form in the book? For lack of better, less-exposed opposition, that’s worth a wager.Leave a comment