SOME classy horses have won Saturday's Group Three Hackwood Stakes (3.00pm) at Newbury in recent years, including The Tin Man (2016), Music Master (2014), Deacon Blues (2011) and Regal Parade (2010).
All were either winners or placed at Group One level and the only horse with a similar profile in this year’s renewal is Magical Memory.
Charlie Hills’ five-year-old, a previous winner of the Stewards’ Cup as well as a Haydock Sprint Cup third, bounced back to winning form in a minor event at Haydock last time having disappointed at Royal Ascot in the Diamond Jubilee.
These are much calmer waters for the grey gelding, but there is just a sneaky suspicion that he is not one to completely rely on at a short price having only beaten Kachy by a short-head that day.
The Hugo Palmer-trained Koropick was probably lucky Kimberella suffered such terrible traffic problems at Newcastle last time and will have to improve to take a hand in this.
While, stablemate Gifted Master takes a drastic drop back in trip here and hasn’t been seen in action since March.
David O’Meara has opted to run Intisaab, seventh behind Harry Angel at Newmarket last weekend, over Suedois and he would have an each-way squeak at 15/2 back down at this level.
As would Eqitraan who won a Listed contest by the smallest of margins at Sailsbury just over a month ago, with champion jockey Jim Crowley in the saddle.
The three-year-old Helmet colt has only finished outside of the top three once in his seven-race career and he should put up a bold bid with Crowley booked again.
However, I worry that he tends to find one too good and I prefer the each-way chances of stablemate TUPI, at 13/2 with Coral, in the capable hands of Ryan Moore.
The five-year-old was a hugely impressive winner of the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster on his first start of the season back in April, quickening away from the field to win cosily.
Plenty felt that dominance was purely a result of race fitness as, unlike most of his rivals that day, he had prepped for the contest in Dubai.
A combination of soft ground and a step up in class looked against him next time when sixth to Tasleet at York, but he bounced back with a hell of a run in the Diamond Jubilee last time.
Only beaten three-and-a-half lengths back in sixth behind The Tin Man, he endured a nightmare passage and got bumped for good measure.
It’s easy to forget that like Magical Memory, he too is dropping down in class, yet, he acquitted himself better than both of those at Royal Ascot last time and is available at double the price.
If Magical Memory can be deemed unreliable, then I would hate to think what label could be attached to Listed Steventon Stakes (2.25pm) favourite Spark Plug.
Last season’s Cambridgeshire Handicap winner was doing so for only the second time in 16 starts at Sandown two weeks ago and will find this tougher stepped up in class.
At just 3/1 with Ladbrokes, I’d prefer to look elsewhere and will instead be siding with William Muir’s RESTORER at 10/1 with Coral.
The five-year-old hardly wins the consistency prize himself and hasn’t won since October 2015, but shaped as if his turn wasn’t far away at Royal Ascot last time.
He may have finished back in seventh in the Wolferton Handicap, but was only beaten a couple of lengths and endured a nightmare passage.
This valuable prize is far less competitive and he can surprise a few at what looks a decent price.
Sir Michael Stoute’s yard have been among the winners over the last couple of weeks and his Thikriyaat could be there or thereabouts come the final strides.
The four-year-old was beaten less than a length behind Arabian Hope and Golden Stunner when finishing third two starts back in Listed company at York.
He then finished down the field in a Group Three contest at Newmarket and the step back down in class will help.
Having had all of his success over seven furlongs and a mile, the step up to today’s 1m2f is a big unknown, though, and I’m happy to stick with distance winner Restorer.
BILL ESDAILE’S HACKWOOD STAKES STAKES 1-2-3.
2. Magical Memory
Restorer 2.25pm Newbury
Tupi 3.00pm Newbury