Blue Point can give Churchill a proper battle
It was Winston Churchill who said "the price of greatness is responsibility", and his equine namesake certainly has a lot of expectation on his shoulders this afternoon as he carries a lot of betting money at around 4/6 in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket (3.30).
Churchill is currently 7/2 to win the 2,000 Guineas in May and will join the likes of Dawn Approach if he completes the Dewhurst and Classic double.
Aidan O'Brien has a good record in this race; he won it with the subsequently disappointing Air Force Blue last year but bigger-priced winners are not uncommon here with four in double-figure odds in the last ten years.
Certainly, Churchill is the one to beat and he has the Group One form in the book to prove it, although I'm not too sure we learned a whole lot from the National Stakes last time in which he beat Mehmas, a horse which preferred the six-furlong distance.
At the prices, I'm inclined to swerve the Galileo colt in favour of Blue Point, generally available around 7/1. While Charlie Appleby's colt is yet to race at seven furlongs, that fact is built into his price and if he can reproduce his Gimcrack form over this trip, we could have a proper battle on our hands.
While his second place to The Last Lion in the Middle Park last time was below par, tactics played a big part, with the winner taking an easy lead.
South Seas is another one to watch and has now won three times in as many races, the best of which was a Group Three.
A big field goes to post for the Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap (4.10 Newmarket) and as usual, it's a real puzzle in which a case could be made for at least a third of the field. Only two favourites have won this since the turn of the century and the 11/2 about St Michel looks a little skinny.
The Sea The Stars colt was third in the Doncaster Cup last time and is waiting to go up 15lbs, but he's never raced in a big field like this where any amount of things can go wrong in-running.
Alan King's Starchitect will also have plenty of support and it's one of those races which has been plundered by jumps trainers in recent years, but the same negative applies regarding the price in such a big field.
A couple of points higher around 10/1, it might be worth taking a chance on Sweet Selection each-way under Silvestre De Sousa for trainer Hughie Morrison.
Running off a mark of 87 for a racing weight of 8st 8lb, the four-year-old filly was out of her depth when fifth in the Doncaster Cup but she's still due to go up 17lb following that effort which means she's getting away quite lightly today, if you'll pardon the pun.
She likes a good test of stamina so the 2m2f over the Rowley Mile will suit her style and it would be no surprise to see her battling it out in the finish.
The Group Three Godolphin Stud And Stable Staff Awards Darley Stakes (5.20) has also thrown up some big-priced winners in recent times but this year, Custom Cut is tipped to hit the bookmakers where it hurts and claim the prize for David O'Meara, priced around 11/4.
It would be unfair to describe the seven-year-old as being in decline but he hasn't been quite as good as last year and has now gone 13 races since he last won a Group Two at Leopardstown just over a year ago.
But that's not to say he hasn't got another big race in him and this looks a relatively weak affair, with main rival Carry On Deryck a little inconsistent lately.
Captain Colby is sure to be popular in the York betting ring for the Coral Sprint Trophy (3.45) having won the Portland at Doncaster, but the four-year-old is up 6lbs which I suspect will do its job of holding him back.
Next in the weights comes Mayfair Lady which is interesting around 12/1 with Adam McNamara claiming 5lb - but a chance is taken on Nigel Tinkler's Normandy Barriere, which was available at 10/1 in the early markets yesterday evening.
He's up 5lb to 96 following success in a useful handicap at Doncaster last time but he finds plenty when it matters, despite a tendency to idle a little mid-rate.
Lewis Edmunds' 7lb claim will get the weight down and with ten places from 16 outings, you can expect a good run for your money.
This happens to be his highest mark to date but he's been climbing steadily in the ratings and has managed to keep slightly ahead of the handicapper for the most part.
Intisaab is another one to watch for David O'Meara's yard. A consistent sort, she's finished in the top two in seven of her last nine outings.
2.55 Newmarket: The Anvil
3.30 Newmarket: Blue Point
3.45 York: Normandy Barriere (e/w)
4.10 Newmarket: Sweet Selection (e/w)
4.20 York: Gulliver
5.20 Newmarket: Custom Cut
Do The Double
Gordon Strachan (pictured) will be delighted with Scotland’s perfect start to their World Cup 2018 campaign – their 5-1 victory away to Malta was fully deserved. They are strong favourites tonight to beat a Lithuania side that rarely score a goal on the road, and the Scotland half-time/full-time bet catches the eye at 6/5.
Lockheed is likely to go off as favourite in the Group Three Dubai 100 Autumn Stakes (2.55 Newmarket) but I’m keen on Aidan O’Brien’s The Anvil, which as been chalked up at a decent price of 10/3 in the early markets. A neck second to Best of Days in a messy renewal of the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes here last time, he performed better than expected, having gone off at 25/1. Looks sure to improve