Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Newmarket on Saturday. View selections below.
AIR FORCE BLUE (3.45) has the Qipco 2000 Guineas at his mercy and it will be a major shock if Aidan O’Brien’s odds-on shot fails to land the first Classic at Newmarket.
The colt progressed at a steady rate of knots throughout the second half of his first season, culminating in a powerful performance in the Dewhurst Stakes. Air Force Blue had earlier beaten Jim Bolger’s Herald The Dawn most emphatically in the National Stakes at the Curragh. On both occasions there was a bit of juice in the ground and the advance going report at HQ is good to soft.
His only reverse in five starts came on quicker summer ground in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot when he failed to match the flashing speed of Burantino. Mark Johnston’s colt reopposes with an obvious chance but this stiff mile should suit Air Force Blue better.
Burantino apart, the home challenge looks less than formidable, although the recent rain will have been welcomed by connections of Stormy Antarctic, so impressive in the mud when landing the Craven Stakes. If there is a deluge, he would be interesting, while Herald The Dawn could hit the frame for each-way dabblers.
I’m a bit surprised Air Force Blue will be equipped with a tongue tie for the first time but he should still blow them all away.
The action kicks off with a Class 2 handicap over 1m 1f and the ew recommendation is MASTER THE WORLD (2.00). David Elsworth’s gelding was cruelly denied on the line by Third Time Lucky in the Cambridgeshire and now races off a 5lb higher perch.
Master The World goes well over a straight course, as does Emerald, a course winner on soft last season.
Emerald is held by his York conqueror Arthenus but the cheek-pieces he wore a fortnight ago at Chelmsford, when making Darshini fight to the line, are retained by Marco Botti.
In-form Sir Michael Stoute saddles Mutamakkin and the filly Intimation. Mutamakkin was no match for wide-margin winner Accession (soft) 16 days ago but was running on steadily over that inadequate seven-furlong trip.
Pat Smullen’s mount Intimation hasn’t been seen since scoring at Leicester in July and a 10lb rise looks quite severe.
Sole Power heads a stellar cast for the Palace House Stakes and should go close, despite conceding weight all round on ground which is not ideal.
Roger Varian reports old boy STEPS (2.30) as being a bit more forward than usual for his seasonal reappearance and the eight-year-old doesn’t need to find much on the formbook to take a hand. Steps came to hand fairly early two seasons ago, winning at Haydock in early May, and any more rain would benefit his cause.
Jungle Cat is all about speed, as he showed with some blistering performances at Group level in Meydan. However, his chance has been compromised by the rain.
Another old stager, Take Cover, excelled at Lingfield over the winter and should be spot-on for this big prize. Veteran Kingsgate Native boasts a tremendous record in this event and is no back number.
CYMRIC (4.55) brings a bit of class into the 1m 2f Listed contest. John Gosden’s colt, a dual winner at Sandown last season, was beaten a short head in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp before an abortive trip across the Atlantic when trapped wide in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf.
Cheek-pieces go on for the first time and Cymric should be too strong for William Haggas’ Wood Ditton scorer Sky Kingdom. That was an excellent debut effort but fourth horse Heart Of Lions was a well-beaten fourth in a Wolverhampton maiden last week when sent off a warm favourite. That sets an alarm bell ringing.
The concluding three-year-old handicap over a mile has a very open look but BRAVE HERO (5.30) is better than his finishing position in the 200,000 Tattersalls Millions Trophy here at the Craven fixture. Brave Hero took the field along at a crisp gallop until folding up the hill, clearly failing to stay that stiff 1m 2f trip. Saeed Bin Suroor’s colt should be cherry-ripe for a bold show under James Doyle.
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