BILL ESDAILE PREVIEWS THE JERSEY AND DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE STAKES
TODAY’S opening Jersey Stakes (2.30pm) has not been particularly kind to punters in recent years with no favourites obliging in the past decade and four winners bigger than 11/1.
It is normally a very tough race and you need a hardy horse that has the speed to lay up but also the stamina to last home over Ascot’s stiff seven furlong track.
Aidan O’Brien won this for the second time last year with the unheralded 20/1 filly Ishvana and he holds very strong claims of landing back-to-back renewals with Irish Guineas runner-up GALE FORCE TEN.
The son of Oasis Dream finished second to Reckless Abandon in last year’s Norfolk Stakes over five furlongs and was then third in the Group One Middle Park behind the same rival. That is top quality form and since then he has run crackers to be an unlucky fourth in the French 2000 Guineas and then second to Magician at the Curragh.
What I like about this colt is that he has shown plenty of speed in his career, yet he was finishing to real effect over a mile in the two Guineas. That is exactly the combination you need in this race and he is the best horse on ratings.
I thought he’d be shorter than the current 5/1 with Coral and he is a strong fancy to end the shocking recent record of favourites.
The biggest danger, according to the bookmakers, is Garswood and I would agree with that. He looked a real horse to follow when he won the European Free Handicap in taking style over this trip at Newmarket in April.
That performance saw him sent off at just 12/1 for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, but he took a nasty bump at the start and that was his race over before it had even begun.
Richard Fahey is convinced this horse is one of the best, if not the best, he has ever trained and with Pat Smullen taking over from Tony Hamilton in the saddle, he has a world class jockey at his disposal.
This looks the right trip for Garswood and I don’t think there’s that much between him and Gale Force Ten, but marginal preference is for the Ballydoyle colt.
There have been plenty of upsets in this race over the years and if there is to be another it might just be Henry Candy’s Music Master. The Piccolo colt he steps up massively on his maiden win last time when finishing second to the decent Dundonnell at HQ.
That was an excellent performance on just his third career start and it will be interesting to see how he fares now stepped up to Group company for the first time.
Montiridge won really nicely at Sandown last time and on that form he would have to go pretty close today. He will appreciate any rain that falls as his best form is with plenty of cut in the ground. The stable also triumphed in this two years ago with Strong Suit and know their way to the winner’s enclosure. However, I’d still favour Gale Force Ten or Garswood in a match bet against him with Sporting Index. Another to throw into the mix is the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Mutin, who is yet to be beaten in four career starts. It’s difficult to weigh up the French form against the British and Irish in this contest, but it is interesting that his trainer is bringing him over, along with stablemate The Brothers War.
GALE FORCE TEN 2.30pm Ascot (today)