The Cambridgeshire Meeting | Handicappers blog

02 Oct 18

Perfect Ten

The first weekend of championship races in the two-year-old division in Britain were dominated by the Ballydoyle battalion, and the much-heralded Ten Sovereigns produced an excellent performance as he led the way in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes, writes Graeme Smith.

Ten Sovereigns & Donnacha O’Brien

Ten Sovereigns was putting a huge reputation on the line after impressive performances on the clock – and wide-margin wins – in maiden and Group 3 company at the Curragh. He wasn’t the only exciting and unbeaten colt lining up, however, with Jash having also gained two bloodless wins in calmer waters. For once the match-up materialised and the pair powered upwards of three and a half lengths clear of proven pattern performers.

The speed figure doesn’t back up the level 100%, but a 101.7% finishing speed (hand timed) through the last 3f mitigates that. Ten Sovereigns’ new rating is a matter for the Irish handicapper but this is by far the best Middle Park performance since Dream Ahead in 2010 in my book. I have Ten Sovereigns pencilled in around 121, and at 119 Jash recorded a performance in advance of what any of the last seven Middle Park winners did on the day.

121 pitches the race above the historical standards of the last seven years, but there’s plenty of foundation for doing that. Third-placed Rumble Inthejungle’s 109-Molecomb performance substantiates it – that could be higher on some readings – and so does Marie’s Diamond’s Group 3-winning figure of 108. The latter has proved durable through nine races already this season and I would be interested to see what he can do over 7f.

Going back to the first decade of the century it was fairly commonplace for the Middle Park winner to be north of 120, and my current feeling is that Ten Sovereigns and Jash could go even further.

One form-line that didn’t stand up in the Middle Park was the Gimcrack. That form had been let down once or twice pre-race, and even though Emaraaty Ana promised more than he was able to deliver when he went past Rumble Inthejungle initially, I’ve reined that race back 2 lb and he’s now rated 110.

They said the lord gives and the lord takes away, and any disappointment at the strength of the Gimcrack was more than countered by the glowing endorsement the Lowther form got when Fairyland and The Mackem Bullet repeated their 1-2 finish in the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes.

Fairyland & Donnacha O’Brien win the Gr.1 Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes

A bunched finish to a well-run race indicates this wasn’t a vintage renewal in terms of winning performance, but there’s depth in the 6f fillies division this year and Fairyland (112 on my figures) proved herself smart as well as game in extending her margin over the runner-up from a nose to a neck.

The other pertinent point from the Cheveley Park was the disappointment of the Morny 1-2, Pretty Pollyanna and Signora Cabello. Pretty Pollyanna might have benefited to some extent from scrimmaging behind her when winning the Duchess of Cambridge, but those that got a clear run that day have still endorsed her 117 performance, including Chaleur who won the valuable nursery at Newmarket on Saturday. Furthermore, True Mason more than did his bit for the Morny form when second in the Mill Reef, and I remain convinced that Pretty Pollyanna is the benchmark in the fillies’ division.

The best two-year-old performance this season overall is undoubtedly Quorto’s National Stakes success, and that form was endorsed when Mohawk led home a Ballydoyle 1-2-3 in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge.

There can’t be many people concerned at the form of Aidan O’Brien’s string any more, and it’s fair to assume Mohawk improved to some degree for the longer trip and better ground. This is another performance for the Irish handicapper to take the lead with, but acknowledging Arthur Kitt and Beatboxer disappointed I’d be looking in the region of 111.

As Mohawk has seen the back of Anthony Van Dyck twice now, including when the pair found Quorto too strong in the National Stakes, a wholesale recalibration of that form-line was appropriate and Quorto now leads the way at 123 (up 2lb).

Just Wonderful & Ryan Moore win from the field

The highlight of Friday’s action at Newmarket was the Shadwell Rockfel Stakes and Just Wonderful put her Moyglare disappointment behind her with a smart performance. She struck decisively when presented with a gap upsides the front-running Main Edition, and I’ve rated her as value for an extra 1 lb over the bare length-and-three-quarter margin from Dandhu given she came back to that one only late in a race where they did plenty early. Saying that, I still think Dandhu will have a say in other pattern races, and a step up to 1m promises to suit her well.

Thursday’s highlight was the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes and Arctic Sound built on his Doncaster nursery success with a smart 110 performance. An honourable mention goes to the third-placed Prince Eiji, who did easily best of those who raced close to a strong pace. He’s already had plenty of media attention having been bought for 2.6m guineas as a yearling but I certainly don’t think this is a case of bubble burst. He should improve further on this 104 performance.

Pattern performer in waiting?

Wissahickon looked a potential Group horse in winning the meeting’s feature handicap, the Bet365 Cambridgeshire. Michael Harris assesses his performance…

Wissahickon – Frankie Dettori win from the field

The Cambridgeshire is always one of the most competitive handicaps of the season and this year’s renewal looked no different. The big field split, as is usually the case in this race, though the majority of the field raced down the centre – Raising Sand in eighth did best of the smaller group who raced stand side. The horses that raced near the pace were overhauled by those ridden with more restraint and the race sectionals show the field slowing towards the finish, favouring the horses coming from off the pace.

Three-year-old Wissahickon was the least experienced horse in the field with just six previous starts, including four victories, and his most recent start had been a small field success on the all-weather at Chelmsford – this test was in stark contrast to that, but he took his form to a new level. Having raced towards the back of the main group throughout, he started to make his move from the rear of mid-division 2f out, and when asked for his effort quickly got on terms with the leaders before powering clear in the final furlong to win by a comfortable three and three-quarter lengths.

That winning margin equates to 7lb. In beating Mordin, who was already due a 5lb rise to 100 for his previous run at Sandown Park and was ‘well-in’ here, and Via Via, who I have matching his career best figure of 101, I have deemed Wissahickon’s performance worthy of a new rating of 117 (a rise of 10 lb).

That figure makes this the best handicap performance of 2018, and 107 is the highest rating carried to victory in the Cambridgeshire since Cap Juluca scored off the same mark in 1995,  eclipsing Spark Plug in 2016 and Educate in 2013 who both won off 104. All three of John Gosden’s previous Cambridgeshire winners (Halling, Pipedreamer and Tazeez) went on to pattern race success. A rating of 117 – and with the prospect of further improvement – suggests Wissahickon will be well capable of following in their footsteps.