ON THE RADAR
Punters face a dilemma if contemplating a bet on Lady Aurelia in the Connolly's Red Mills Cheveley Park at Newmarket this Saturday, 24 September. Judged on her impressive victory over five furlongs in Royal Ascot's Queen Mary Stakes, the Wesley Ward-trained filly would be a stand-out investment, even at odds-on, as, according to my figures at least, she has more than 10lb in hand over her possible rivals. I was not overly-impressed by her performance in Deauville's six-furlong Prix Morny last time out, however, and less than convinced that she stays the longer trip. If she does, I expect her to collect again at Newmarket, her rating of 117 being exceptionally high for a female two-year-old. Should she fail for want of stamina, though, Queen Kindly and Roly Poly (both 106) are ideally placed to benefit.
William Haggas's two-year-olds seem to be firing on all cylinders at the moment and Gheedaa posted a sufficiently encouraging debut performance at Yarmouth on 13 September to indicate she can take a similar contest in the next few weeks. The daughter of Tamayuz finished second, beaten only a length and a half despite a racing keenly in the early stages, and was staying on gamely at the finish. Out of a Hard Spun mare and related to Pattern winners, Gheedhaa will eventually handle seven furlongs plus.
Yarmouth's seven-furlong juvenile maiden the following afternoon looked a decent event and several future scorers should emerge from among the beaten runners. The one who most took my eye was the previously-unraced fifth-home, Sir Michael Stoute's Karawaan, who led until the furlong pole before seeming to tire against fitter rivals. Karawaan ultimately lost out by just two and three-quarter lengths behind Solomon's Bay, however, and, with this effort under his belt, ought to take a big step forward.
That same day, 14 September, the Roger Charlton-trained Atty Persse collected at the first attempt in a one-mile maiden at Sandown. Charlton's charge was always travelling best and, after being pushed along to challenge two furlongs from home, took the lead inside the last to win decisively by a length and three-quarters from the more experienced Hamada. A son of Frankel - and from a mare by Norse Dancer successful in Listed grade - Atty Persse is bred to need at least a mile and quarter next season.
So Mi Dar returned from a 126-day lay-off to register a smooth victory in a mile-and-a-quarter Listed contest at Yarmouth on 14 September and now looks ready to re-establish herself in Group company. John Gosden's filly picked up an injury after landing York's Group Three Musidora Stakes in May, a setback which caused her to miss the Oaks, but she started to make up for lost time at Yarmouth with a snug half-length defeat of Nezwaah. The Prix de l'Opera at October's Arc meeting is a likely target.
Jockey Harry Bentley stated Morando "has every right to be a Group horse" after the three-year-old's decisive success from an official rating of 96 in a decent one-mile handicap at Ayr on 17 September - and it is hard to disagree with this assessment. Roger Varian's colt completed a hat-trick with his win on the west coast of Scotland, having previously collected at Windsor and Chester, and appears to be progressing with every run. Given a little ease underfoot, the son of Kendargent can soon score again.
Sobetsu took a giant step forward from her first outing when landing the one-mile maiden that began Newmarket's meeting on the same afternoon. Charlie Appleby's two-year-old filly had finished only third at HQ just over three weeks earlier, admittedly after suffering some interference during the race, but looked a different proposition on her return, winning by ten lengths from Interweave. Sobetsu has Pattern-event entries next month and, based on this display, looks entitled to tackle classier company.
DIGGING THE DIRT
Saeed bin Suroor's stable has endured a virus-ravaged season, registering perhaps half the number of winners it would normally be expected to send out, but there are now, finally, signs of a revival in its fortunes. Hersigh, for instance, posted a much-improved display compared with her tame debut when filling second place in a seven-furlong maiden at Kempton on 18 September. This daughter of Poet's Voice stayed on well at the Sunbury venue, losing out by just three-quarters of a length to Belle Diva, and, given that she is from a Singspiel mare, seems likely to progress again if stepping up in distance.
NOTED ON THE GALLOPS
Charlie Hills is preparing to give a two-year-old filly named Neshmeya her first outing and, judged on her work at home, this daughter of Lawman has enough ability to win a race or two. She moves nicely and, being out of High Heeled - heroine of Newbury's Group Three St Simon Stakes on heavy ground in 2009 - is bred to appreciate at least seven furlongs this season and stay middle-distances next term.
As I have often observed in previous years, John Gosden does not mind running decent juveniles late into the autumn and it is perfectly possible he will take that course of action with Valcartier. This son of Redoute's Choice cost $950,000 as a yearling and, if looks mean anything, Gosden's charge, well-built with a fine action, should make his mark on-track. His dam, Vadawina, won at Group One level.
My best-trusted contact in Ireland has informed me that Auckland, a two-year-old Galileo colt trained by Aidan O'Brien, has been shaping up nicely in workouts at Ballydoyle, ahead of a debut in the next few weeks. O'Brien's youngster already holds Pattern-event entries and, given he is out of Airwave, a Group Two scorer over a mile in 2005, he undoubtedly has the right sort of pedigree to warrant them.
STATS THE WAY TO DO IT
Cambridgeshire Handicap (Newmarket, Saturday, 24 September)
Plenty of punters will avoid betting on Newmarket's Cambridgeshire Handicap, this season's renewal of which is due to be run on Saturday, 24 September, because they consider it unfathomable.
Many, I am sure, must recall Spanish Don's 100-1 win in 2004, the 25-1 success of Tazeez in 2008 and Prince Of Johanne's 40-1 victory in 2011.
They, and a fair few others besides, will surely see this Betfred-sponsored 'cavalry charge' - run over the relatively uncommon distance of nine furlongs - as a risky betting medium.
Some, though, may remember the two favourites to have scored in the past decade - Pipedreamer (5-1 in 2008) and Educate (8-1 in 2013) - perhaps still feeling warmth from profitable investments.
For that last group - and anybody else able to assess the event without regret - results from the last ten years might well suggest a little form study - and analysis of some statistics - can bear juicy fruit.
Wins by the likes of Formal Decree (9-1 in 2006) and Bronze Angel (9-1 in 2012 and 14-1 in 2014), have undoubtedly demonstrated this heritage handicap is not always a brain-taxing wallet-emptier.
And runners who made the first four last time out, for further example, have compiled a decent record within the past decade, especially considering the Cambridgeshire's ultra-competitive nature.
In fact, just three victorious candidates in the period under scrutiny - Tazeez, Supaseus (2009) and Educate - had failed to reach the frame on their last outing prior to lining up on the Rowley course.
An earlier success over at least a mile seems another strong pointer, as every Cambridgeshire scorer in the past decade fulfilled that always-to-be-considered big-race criterion.
Furthermore, nine of the ten victorious runners within my chosen timeframe - Supaseus was the sole exception - had already registered at least one win during the relevant campaign.
Three-year-olds have the best record in the period under scrutiny, collecting four times courtesy of Formal Decree, Pipedreamer, Bronze Angel and last term's 14-1 scorer Third Time Lucky.
Four-year-olds and five-year-olds, meanwhile have each notched a trio of successes, the younger of those age groups via Blue Monday, Tazeez and Educate, the older thanks to Credit Swap (2010) and Prince Of Johanne.
One six-year-old - Supaseus - completes the roll of honour covering the past ten seasons, while the most recent scorer aged more than six was the seven-year-old Rambo's Hall way back in 1992.
Really big weights have generally proved hard to overcome in the decade from 2006 onwards, with Educate shrugging off the largest burden (9st 9lb) and seven other winners carrying less than 9st.
It may be worth noting, too, that, within the same timeframe, only Credit Swap and Third Time Lucky have defied a (4lb) penalty.
John Gosden, who saddled Pipedreamer and Tazeez, and Marcus Tregoning, responsible for Bronze Angel's twin victories, have both lifted the trophy twice in the last decade.
They are the only trainers with more than one Cambridgeshire victory this century.
BIG RACE FOCUS
An improved performance will be needed from the winner of Newmarket's Middle Park Stakes - run this Saturday, 24 September - to establish himself as a leading Classic contender for next season.
Blue Point and Mehmas jointly head my ratings for this weekend's six-furlong Group One contest, both having earned a mark of 110, but that will not be good enough to land 2017's 2000 Guineas.
Successful HQ Classic candidates usually earn a figure close to 120 on my scale, so, as the rankings below should make clear, none of Saturday's possibles is yet a serious proposition for next spring.
Of my two top-rated Middle Park colts, Charlie Appleby's Blue Point appears the likelier to score, as Mehmas's stable - that of Richard Hannon - seems to be struggling for victories at the moment.
There are doubts in my mind, too, about the wellbeing of Mark Johnston's horses, which means I will be watching Yalta (108) and The Last Lion (101) with sceptical interest, rather than optimism.
No such concerns can be harboured about the yards of Aidan O'Brien and William Haggas - both in fine form - meaning Intelligence Cross (106) and Mubtasim (97) warrant each-way consideration.
Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes confirmed entries
(ranked in order of ratings achieved by 20/09/16)
|1=)||Blue Point||C Appleby (GB)||110|
|1=)||Mehmas||R Hannon (GB)||110|
|3)||Yalta||M Johnston (GB)||108|
|4)||Intelligence Cross||A O'Brien (Ireland)||106|
|5)||Silver Line||S bin Suroor (GB)||104|
|6=)||Peace Envoy||A O'Brien (Ireland)||101|
|6=)||The Last Lion||M Johnston (GB)||101|
|8=)||Courage Under Fire||A O'Brien (Ireland)||100|
|8=)||Medicine Jack||G Lyons (Ireland)||100|
|8=)||Mokarris||S Crisford (GB)||100|
|11)||Psychedelic Funk||G Lyons (Ireland)||98|
|12=)||Mubtasim||W Haggas (GB)||97|
|12=)||Sutter County||M Johnston (GB)||97|
|14)||Sportsmanship||A O'Brien (Ireland)||94|
|15=)||Koropick||H Palmer (GB)||88|
|15=)||Leo Minor||A O'Brien (Ireland)||88|