Simcock-trained chance is the Cesarewitch pick, says Alex
Last Updated: October 12, 2012 2:03pm
Alex Hammond says Montaser is this weekend's value
This weekend, racing returns to HQ with Future Champions Day taking place on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket. Aside from the top class juvenile races, it's also the second leg of the Autumn double, the Cesarewitch.
"Montaser has just sneaked in at the bottom of the handicap as owner Dr Marwan Koukash has taken out another of his runners, Address Unknown, who was third highest in the weights. That allows this horse in as bottom weight."
Alex Hammond Quotes of the week
Conditions are currently good to soft so it shouldn't be too testing. Let's start off with a look at the two-year old races.
The Middle Park
The Middle Park is the first of two Group Ones and is for colts over six furlongs. Clive Cox's Reckless Abandon is Sky Bet's 15/8 favourite and he is a talented colt. With that talent comes a few quirks though and he hung badly when winning the Norfolk at Royal Ascot. Despite that you can't fault his record and he comes here unbeaten in 4 starts. Gerald Mosse keeps the ride having won on him on the last 2 occasions in France.
As Reckless Abandon is quirky I think it's worth taking him on with Marco Botti's Moohaajim who was a winner for this column when he took the Mill Reef last time out. He will be ridden by Adam Kirby again who knows all about the favourite having won on the Clive Cox-trained colt on his first two outings. The only negative for the selection would be ground that goes too soft, but it never gets too testing on this course so I hope it will be ok. Although he saw the heels of Reckless Abandon in the Prix Morny he didn't get the clearest of runs at Deauville and I hope he can reverse the placings.
Blaine isn't to be ignored either and Kevin Ryan's colt is unbeaten in 2. At 9/1 he looks an interesting proposition certainly after his win in the Gimcrack last time out. Unlike the favourite he is very straightforward and can be a lovely horse next year. He might be worth a little saver though at those odds.
The Dewhurst also has Group One status but is over seven furlongs and it looks difficult or stupid to take on Dawn Approach (4/11 favourite). His trainer Jim Bolger has a great recent record in this race and I think it will continue on Saturday.
The colt has won all five of his starts and although Bolger has taken him out of a couple of his intended targets this summer due to ease in the ground, all his form has come with some cut so conditions shouldn't be a problem. He is already firm favourite for next year's 2000 Guineas.
He faces five rivals with John Gosden's Ashdan at (7/2) his closest and most interesting rival. He is unbeaten in two starts and his trainer can do little wrong this season. The colt won a Conditions Stakes at Doncaster last time out and this is clearly a big step up in class. He is learning all the time though and with that comes progression so he can give the favourite the most to do.
The big one
Now for the big staying handicap, the Cesarewitch, run over 2m 2f. Sky Bet are paying five places on each way bets and in this type of race you need all the help you can get!
Triumph Hurdle winner Countrywide Flame is Sky Bet's 6/1 favourite for Yorkshire trainer John Quinn. He has been in good form on the flat recently - making all to win a two-mile handicap at Chester last month for which he picked up a 4lb penalty. He will return to hurdles after this race with the Fighting Fifth or the Bula and then the Champion Hurdle on his agenda. He comes here a fresh horse and deserves his position at the top of the market for this ultra competitive handicap.
Hurricane Higgins is 10/1 second favourite for Mark Johnston and has plenty going for him. He stays very well and ran an excellent race to be third to Times Up in the Doncaster Cup last time out. He doesn't look badly handicapped on that form. However, he isn't totally straight forward and that's the risk you take if you back him.
Montaser (11/1) has just sneaked in at the bottom of the handicap as owner Dr Marwan Koukash has taken out another of his runners, Address Unknown, who was third highest in the weights. That allows this horse in as bottom weight with unsuitable ground given as the reason for his absence. Incidentally Sky Bet will refund all ante-post bets on the Ian Williams-trained absentee. Montaser is an improving three-year-old in the care of David Simcock. He seems to handle most ground, although wouldn't want it too soft and he stays well.
I Have A Dream represents Aidan O'Brien and is one of three on 12/1. He is a lightly-raced three-year-old who is improving and won a 1m 6f handicap in Ireland last time out for which he has a 4lb penalty to carry. Ryan Moore rides as he has 8.11, a weight Joseph O'Brien can't make. He is obviously well regarded by his trainer as he was the stables only entry for the Melbourne Cup.
Motivado (12/1) is trained by Sir Mark Prescott and comes here having run well in the Ebor, where he was fourth beaten just two lengths. The race wasn't run to suit there and he steps up in trip now. The other 12/1 shot is Olympiad who is one of four Irish raiders and is trained by the man who saddled the great stayer Vintage Crop to win this race back in 1992. Dermot Weld isn't called the master trainer for nothing and I respect anything he sends over for these big handicaps. This horse has won two of his five starts including a two-mile handicap at York at the Ebor meeting. He is a group horse in a handicap but wouldn't want the ground too soft and has a bad draw.
Last season's Northumberland Plate winner Tominator is 14/1 for Jonjo O'Neill, who has booked Jamie Spencer to ride. This is his first start for O'Neill having previously been trained by Reg Hollinshead and he will go hurdling this winter for his new owner.
At 25/1 Cosimo de Medici is worth considering for each way punters. He has been saved for the race this year. Hughie Morrison ran him in this event last year and he was well beaten, but that came at the end of a hectic season. This time he has only had three runs in 2012 compared to it being his eighth start last year. He is also slightly lower in the weights and has a very attractive 8st3 to carry in this. He won the Ces trial last year and is definitely one to keep on the right side of.
Bernie the Bolt is also 25/1 and can't be written off. Andrew Balding trains the horse and although he hasn't won for a couple of years, he is looking dangerously well handicapped. He was fifth in the trial last time out and underfoot conditions won't bother him. That's a look at some of the horses that I think are capable of figuring in this tricky handicap and I'll be backing Montaser each way with Cosimo de Medici and Bernie the Bolt my 2 value selections. Good luck!
There is also some decent action on the Knavesmire with the Sprint Trophy at York the feature (6f). The ground is testing there and was described as heavy for the card on Friday.
Heerat is 6/1 favourite for William Haggas and Paul Hanagan and there are few better than Hanagan round this course thanks to his year based in Yorkshire riding for Richard Fahey. This horse is tough and straightforward and you will get a run for your money. Like some of these he is untried on the ground so you have to take that on trust but he goes well at this track and his trainer thinks he'll handle conditions. He is a three-year-old taking on older horses for the first time which makes things a bit tougher.
At 7/1, Mass Rally is next best and he will handle the ground. He won the Ayr Silver Cup last time out and is now 5lb higher in the weights but he needs things to drop just right for him as he doesn't find much off the bridle.
Doc Hay is 9/1 for David O'Meara and Danny Tudhope, he has top weight to overcome here. He won the Portland Handicap, ran well in the Ayr Gold Cup and then won a 5f Listed race last time out, so is in great form. Bubbly Bellini is another in with a shout and is 12/1. He comes over from Ireland and will enjoy the ground. He won on heavy ground at the Curragh last time out and has an obvious chance.
Moohaajim in the Middle Park @3/1 with Sky Bet
Dawn Approach in the Dewhurst @ 4/11 with Sky Bet
Montaser in the Cesarewitch @ 11/1 with Sky Bet (each way)
Bubbly Bellini in the Sprint Trophy @ 12/1 with Sky Bet