EARLIER this week legendary Newmarket trainer Sir Michael Stoute tragically lost his partner Coral Pritchard-Gordon to a long-term illness.
There would therefore be no more fitting winner of Saturday’s feature Hungerford Stakes (3.35pm) at Newbury than the Stoute-trained favourite Dream Of Dreams.
Champion jockey Oisin Murphy is booked to ride the six-year-old and there certainly won’t be a dry eye in the house should the pair emerge victorious.
For the second year in succession he was just touched off in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal meeting but this time around he missed a trip to Newmarket to come here fresh.
He should take plenty of beating but I will be having a small each-way bet on German raider NAMOS at 11/1 and even possibly bigger on Tote.co.uk.
He was just run off his feet a little in the July Cup last time and promises to be much better suited by the return to seven furlongs.
In fact, the key to him could be the potential of soft ground.
He has won both starts with soft in the going description and both his mother and father excelled with juice in the ground.
If the storms do materialise, then I can’t resist old friend MORANDO at 9/4 in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes (3.00pm).
Andrew Balding’s seven-year-old is hard to peg back when the mud flies and is particularly at home at Newbury.
The key to him, though, is this extended 1m5½f trip which he has only encountered twice in his life.
The first time was last May at Chester when he routed Kew Gardens by eight lengths and the other when just worn down in this last year by subsequent Group One winner Technician.
My only other selection at Newbury on Saturday is Charlie Hills’ AFAAK who looks well-treated off his current mark of 103 in the mile handicap (2.25pm).
That’s the same rating from which he won last year’s Royal Hunt Cup and any rain will only help his chances.
He has been running consistently well and could be hard to beat at 9/2 if this turns into a slog.
There has also been plenty of rain about in France ahead of Sunday’s Group One Prix Jacques le Marois (2.50pm) at Deauville.
The betting is headed by John Gosden’s unbeaten Palace Pier, who comes here on the back of his St James’s Palace Stakes victory at the Royal meeting.
He is as short as 5/4 to maintain his 100% record, but this looks sure to be a real test.
I’m prepared to take him on with Andre Fabre’s PERSIAN KING at around 7/2.
The four-year-old looked really good in the Prix d’Ispahan last time and has that all important mix of speed, stamina and ability to handle soft ground.
If it carries on raining, I expect him to challenge Palace Pier for favouritism on the day and for that reason 7/2 looks great value.
Afaak 9/2 2.25pm Newbury
Morando 9/4 3.00pm Newbury
Namos (ew) 11/1 3.35pm Newbury
Persian King 7/2 2.50pm Deauville (Sunday)