Posted Wednesday September 6th 5.00pm
As handicaps go they don’t come any harder than the thirty five runner Cambridgeshire over the odd nine furlong trip on a course that doesn’t suit every horse! I don’t expect the race to look any easier three minutes from the off as it does three weeks away! So why now? Well the weights are out today and Tom Segal (Pricewise) will have his say tomorrow in the Racing Post and so this blog needs to be on line by 6pm tonight when a couple of lines of blue on Oddschecker will tell us all Tom’s selections! So I’m suggesting you have a look at three horses now and when the final declarations are out we’ll look to top up and go each way, if there is any value.
To win the first leg of the Autumn Double I’m looking for a horse no older than six and it would have to be a very special 3yo to be recommended. I like some course form, I like a horse that has won somewhere over ten furlongs, I quite like a sparse campaign with at least one piece of form to recommend their selection, should be able to operate on Good to Soft ground and be with a trainer who is “a man with a plan” and could easily have targeted this race.
DOLPHIN VISTA (Martyn Meade) Regular readers won’t be surprised at the selection but may be at who trains him. Now a four year old, at the end of last season I had concluded, “Top performer winning three handicaps this season and going up from OR83 to OR99 in the process. 8/10F on Good ground or softer.”
Up until May of this year he was of course trained at Musley Bank by the #FantasticMrFahey who prepared him for the Lincoln when he was an excellent fifth off OR99 with the likes of Zhui Feng, Eddystone Rock and Withernsea behind. He was prominent early but with little cover, he was outpaced over 3F out then rattled home suggesting the Cambridgeshire’s nine furlong trip was spot on. He was then a last of nine to Playful Sound on ground too quick for him.
Next thing you know he has been moved to Newmarket! Martyn Meade has plateaued at best this season and could be seen as a one-horse yard with his Group 1 winning Frankel colt, Eminent. Just fifty seven runners in 2017 with nine winners suggests all has not been well at the yard. Back in April he told Chris Cook of the Guardian “We had a torrid time with it (dose of the virus)” said Martyn Meade, whose 50-box Sefton Lodge yard on the Bury Road is close to Newmarket’s heart. “When I ran Ernststavroblofeld the second time, he seemed to be completely clear and everything but he ran a stinker and it can only be the virus. It was one of those things that didn’t show up on the blood tests, didn’t show up on a scope and the only thing you can put it down to is a low-grade infection.”
Dolphin Vista reappeared three months later and clearly needed the run having travelled well before not picking up out of The Dip in the race Thundering Blue crashed into Eddystone Rock and those two have recently won big C2 handicaps!
I think he is well handicapped on OR96 and he is number 46 on the list and has an excellent chance of getting in.
One star* win @ 50/1 Ladbrokes & Coral 40/1 WH
GM HOPKINS (John Gosden) Just looks his race. Backed him in this last year when running off OR112 and his race lasted about two yards as he reared as the stalls opened and he was always on the back hoof! Indeed getting started is his Achilles heel but when he gets out anywhere like on terms he is a class act as he showed when winning the 2015 Hunt Cup at Ascot and twice this season he has rattled home from unpromising positions in the Coral Challenge and the Hunt Cup and the 9F of this race should be ideal and this season he turns up on OR107 and I wonder if Ryan Moore will ride him again? Cut and paste for the Balmoral at Ascot in October!
One Star* win @ 25/1 everyone!
WEEKEND OFFENDER (Kevin Ryan) Last October Weekend Offender beat Another Touch a neck in a 3yo C2 handicap at York and I put in my notebook, “Long term, John Smiths at York—Cambridgeshire 2017? Similar to Weekend Offender/Kevin Ryan”. Well for the John Smiths Weekend Offender was in quarantine and Another Touch ran on well having been drawn in the car park for a race with no pace and they stuck to the far rail at York!!
(Another Touch has since won a Listed race at Pontefract and I expect the 10F Listed Doonside Cup on Day one at Ayr’s Festival is top of his agenda.)
Weekender Offender gets in here on OR98 and at number 29 is guaranteed a stall if declared. After his unplanned mid-season break Kevin Ryan is right back in the winner producing swing! Weekend Offender bolted up at Ayr in a C3 10F handicap on Good to Soft ground and with the handicapper putting him up six pounds to guarantee his place in this field it was no surprise to see him run flat at York just twelve days later!
One Star* win @ 33/1 SkyBet 25/1 Ladbrokes & Coral
Others I considered,
Leshlaa (Saeed bin Suroor) Of all the 3yo’s entered I think this one has some cracking form in the book and is probably a Group horse waiting to happen. Fourth in the Listed Fairway Stakes on this course, fifth in the Brittania to Bless Him and most recently winner of an AW Listed race in Turkey! Number 31 on the list so guaranteed a run if they want, indeed only top weight Carry on Deryck is in that position for the “Boys in Blue”.
El Vip (Luca Cumani) He will win one of these Heritage handicaps at 8-10F and Jamie Spencer will be in the saddle. Ground would be my biggest concern in the Cambridgeshire, can’t have Soft in the going and I think he’s best coming late off a rapid mile. Please can I have a price for 2018 Hunt Cup on Good to Firm, single figure draw and “Frank” riding?
Uae Prince (Roger Varian) After his run in the first race at the Goodwood Festival I had him down as a winner without a penalty but he was disappointingly flat at York and maybe the handicapper has him? OR97 and another who would prefer Good ground or better.
Qassem (Hugo Palmer) Ran a cracker in the Clipper Logistics over 8F at York and in my Review of the meeting I wrote “Owned by Al Shaqab Qassem was originally with Andre Fabre in France, unraced as a 2yo, ran five times (22123) at three from 6F to 8F then transferred to Hugo Palmer stepped up to 12F and was a 14/1 eighth of fifteen in the November Handicap, OR95! Over the winter he was gelded, pretty big shout for a €300K yearling, and this season has been fifth in a York 10½F C2 handicap OR94, won at Chelmsford in C2, OR93, dropped again back to a mile and second to Flaming Spear in the C2 8F Clipper Logistics at the York Ebor Festival off OR98. The last run was terrific as he was in the van throughout, the handicapper has put him up just one pound OR99.
Why is this horse screaming Balmoral to me? That is the £150K 8F handicap on Champions Day, Ascot October 21st!”
I think 8F will suit him better and I’ll pass here.