NEWMARKET’S two-day Dubai Future Champions Festival is a precursor to next week’s QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot.
The juveniles are the stars of the show, but for most punters the big betting race of the day is the valuable Old Rowley Cup (4.10pm).
This 1m4f handicap for three-year-olds is an interesting race, particularly with Aidan O’Brien declaring Astronomer, who is going for a fifth straight win.
This son of Galileo is clearly progressing well, but he’s risen markedly in the weights and is coming up against some progressive rivals here.
There doesn’t look to be much between Ralph Beckett’s pair, Rock Eagle and Breath Court, who should both go well, but I’m keen on Sir Michael Stoute’s BARITONE.
Gelded back in August, the three-year-old broke his maiden tag in fine style at Pontefract last month when stepping up to today’s distance for the first time.
It was an impressive display and he’s actually been beaten by some decent horses this season including Mekong, Chief Ironside and Elwazir.
Rated just 86, this son of Camelot will carry just 8st 1lbs and will be hard to beat off that mark. He looks a good bet at 10/3.
The highest quality race of the day is the Group One Fillies’ Mile (3.35pm), won by the brilliant and gutsy Laurens 12 months ago.
Ballydoyle have won three of the previous four renewals and saddle Hermosa and Zagitova this afternoon.
These two Galileo fillies both have some decent form in the book, but they don’t look like superstars at this stage so I’m happy to look past them.
There are few better trainers of fillies than Beckett and his unbeaten Antonia De Vega has to be hugely respected after back-to-back seven furlong successes.
She found it hard work at Goodwood last time, but finished very strongly and looks certain to relish the step up to a mile.
The problem I have is that she has only won a Group Three, yet is no bigger than 4/1, which is too short.
Pretty Pollyanna is the only Group One winner in the field and if you can forgive her last run in the Cheveley Park Stakes then she’d be near enough favourite.
However, she is yet to run beyond six furlongs and there has to be a doubt that this daughter of Oasis Dream will get home over a mile.
The one who looks overpriced to me is Charlie Appleby’s BEYOND REASON at 10/1 with Coral. She was disappointing in the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh last time, but the ground was quite gluey that day and she had arrived there on the back of two decent Group wins at Deauville.
This daughter of Australia was a respectable fourth in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, where she looked like she’d appreciate the step up to a mile.
This will be her first start over the distance and with Appleby having such a good record on the Rowley Mile, I’m more than happy to go with her each-way, especially back on a sounder surface.
Today’s action gets underway with the five furlong Group Three Cornwallis Stakes (1.50pm), where I’m hoping to recoup losses on TRUE MASON at 11/4 with Coral.
Karl Burke’s inmate was a strong fancy to land last month’s Group Two Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury and he looked like getting the job done when looming up a furlong out.
He just couldn’t hold off the rallying Kessaar, but the combination of the step down in trip and class can see him get his head in front.
An excellent third in the Group One Prix Morny two starts back, this is clearly a very talented horse who shows a lot of natural speed.
A fast run five furlongs should be perfect and this doesn’t look the hottest of renewals, so he is a strong fancy to see off the likes of Sergei Prokofiev and Pocket Dynamo.
True Mason 1.50pm Newmarket
Beyond Reason e/w 3.35pm Newmarket
Baritone 4.10pm Newmarket