Some wines get better with age and believe it or not, so do some jockeys. I’ve been guilty of calling Richard Hills a few names over the years, but I genuinely believe he has improved beyond recognition over the last 12 months. The son of legendary trainer Barry (and twin brother of Michael) can have a Champions Day to remember and I’ll be buying his jockey index with Sporting Index tomorrow morning.
He can get the ball rolling with OUQBA in the opening race of the day at around the 6/1 mark. Barry Hills’ Jersey Stakes winner looked on the way back at Doncaster last time having finished lame at Goodwood on his previous start. A true run 7 furlongs on decent ground is right up his street and he can go close with the Hills team back in good form.
TABASSUM can land him the Rockfel at 4.15pm as she looks a filly with huge potential and bolted up over course and distance two weeks ago. Marcus Tregoning’s ARWAAH is also expected to go pretty close in the Pride Stakes at 4.50pm – she looked like a Group 1 filly when last seen at Newbury in August and will take some pegging back.
John Dunlop’s AKMAL has a serious chance of making it win number four for Hills in the Jockey Club Cup at 5.25pm. The three-year-old is one of the most improved horses in training and can win race number seven of the season.
Hills is certainly not without a chance in the feature race of the day (Champion Stakes), but Mawatheeq is taking a huge step up in class and may have to settle for a place at best. Aidan O’Brien’s Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory is as short as 11/10 with Boylesports for the 10 furlong contest, but I’d far rather be a layer on Betdaq than a backer at those prices. There is no getting away from the fact that the son of Montjeu was trained for the Arc (where he finished sixth to Sea The Stars) and this is a definite after-thought.
Having said that, there isn’t that much strength or depth in opposition. Sariska ideally needs softer ground and arguably a bit further, while Twice Over and Pipedreamer have both been found wanting at this level on plenty of occasions in the past. That really only leaves the two French raiders Never On Sunday and ALPINE ROSE and at the prices, I prefer the latter at around 20/1.
The four-year-old would be suited by any rain that falls, but will stay every yard of this trip and looks to be coming to hand at the right time. The cards didn’t fall right for her in the Prix De L’Opera last time and I’m convinced she’s better than she showed that day. She looks sure to get a true run race here and feel she’s a really decent each-way price.
I think Jim Bolger’s Chabal will win the Dewhurst, yet cannot possibly recommend backing him at the prices now that Arcano has defected from the race. However, I’ll be deserting Richard Hills in the Cesarewitch and will be having a few quid each-way on Brian Ellison’s TILT at a massive 66/1 with Hills. The seven-year-old will be carrying a lot less than he did when finishing a gallant sixth 12 months ago and Martin Lane takes off a potentially handy 5lbs.
Away from Newmarket and Andrew Balding’s BUCCELLATI can land the Canadian International tomorrow. He’ll relish the fast ground and was arguably unlucky not to have gone very close in the Coronation Cup at Epsom in June.
OUQBA 1.50pm Newmarket (Sat)
ALPINE ROSE e/w 3.00pm Newmarket (Sat)
TILT e/w 3.40pm Newmarket (Sat)
TABASSUM 4.15pm Newmarket (Sat)
ARWAAH 4.50pm Newmarket (Sat)
AKMAL 5.25pm Newmarket (Sat)
BUCCELLATI Canadian International (Sat)