TOMORROW’S Dubai Future Champions Day at Newmarket promises to showcase some of the best juvenile talent around but, from a punting perspective, it is the long distance stayers that take centre stage in the Betfred Cesarewitch (3.35pm). Even though this marathon test is run over 2m2f, the draw can still play a big part with seven of the past 10 winners coming from stall 12 or lower.
However, Frankie Dettori showed last year that a high draw isn’t an impossible barrier to overcome when he brought Never Can Tell home in front from stall 36. Crucially, the Italian made the decision to come up the centre of the track rather than sticking to the more typical route up the far side. That was an inspired move and is likely to be replicated by a number of the jockeys this year.
I was initially alarmed when my main fancy, OLYMPIAN, was drawn in stall 33, but you can read too much into the draw in these contests and I firmly believe that he is the most progressive animal in the field. A slight worry is that he has only had five career starts, although it didn’t look like it when he pulverised a strong field at York’s Ebor meeting. Dermot Weld is one of the world’s best trainers of stayers and he won this race with Vintage Crop in 1992 who went on to land the Melbourne Cup the following season.
It speaks volumes that Pat Smullen is coming over for the one ride before jetting off to Canada to partner Princess Highway in the EP Taylor Stakes on Sunday. Smullen is one of the best jockeys around and Olympiad looks a cracking each-way bet at 14/1 with Paddy Power.
My other selection isn’t even certain to run at this stage, but if second reserve EAGLE ROCK sneaks in at the bottom of the weights he will be worth backing at 25/1 with Coral. Tom Tate’s four-year-old ran an eye-catching race in the Cesarewitch Trial here last month and is sure to be staying on when others have cried enough.
There has been plenty of opposition to running the Group One Middle Park Stakes (2.20pm) and Dewhurst Stakes (2.50pm) on the same day, but that is where we are and the former certainly looks the most competitive event. Marco Botti’s Moohaajim was very impressive in the Mill Reef Stakes last time and he was slightly unlucky in the Prix Morny the time before. However, he was beaten that day by RECKLESS ABANDON, who is yet to taste defeat in four starts, and I expect him to confirm the form tomorrow.
The son of Exchange Rate has looked a little quirky so far in his short career, hanging violently to the left when winning at Royal Ascot, but he is clearly top class and should take all the beating. Gerald Mosse, who has been in the saddle for his last two wins, maintains the partnership and he rides Newmarket really well. Cristoforo Columbo would be the each-way bet in the race as he was unlucky to slip up at the Curragh last time and was only beaten a length by Dawn Approach – who looks a certainty in the Dewhurst half an hour later – at Royal Ascot.
You only need to look out the window to realise that the jumps season is about to swing back into full action and Chepstow hosts an intriguing card tomorrow with the likes of Fingal Bay, Hinterland and Poungach all set for their seasonal reappearances. However, the one bet at the Monmouthshire course that I will be striking is Alan King’s HANDAZAN in the opening juvenile hurdle (1.55pm).
The three-year-old was formerly trained by John Oxx in Ireland where he relished soft ground. Apparently he has been showing all the right signs at home and has taken to hurdling like a natural, so this looks a good opportunity.
For those of you looking for a bet this afternoon, it’s off to York for the TBS Nursery (2.00pm) where Brian Meehan’s SMOOTHTALKINRASCAL can defy top weight under Kieren Fallon. The Kodiac gelding was well fancied for the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot and ran respectably to finish eighth. He then blew the start in the July Stakes which ruined his chances, but he has been off since then and this represents a big drop in class.
You can follow me on Twitter @BillEsdaile for all my racing views.
SMOOTHTALKINRASCAL e/w 2.00pm York
HANDAZAN 1.55pm Chepstow
RECKLESS ABANDON 2.20pm Newmarket
OLYMPIAN e/w 3.35pm Newmarket
EAGLE ROCK e/w 3.35pm Newmarket