Inside track: Aeolus can deliver at Newbury
Stable switch and gelding key to real improver for Walker yard
On a low-key Saturday of racing in Britain, there is no shortage of highly competitive fare.
In terms of pattern quality, Newbury's Group Three Hackwood Stakes is the best race on the schedule, though the card's Listed JLT Stakes has more depth to it in an overall sense.
Godolphin's Charlie Appleby-trained Portamento is the market leader to claim the six-furlong Hackwood, having impressed in the manner with which he came clear in a Chester handicap last week.
From a wide stall at the notoriously draw-biased venue, the Shamardal colt surged home off a mark of 104. That was his fourth win in seven starts over the past year, with two further seconds in that time reaffirming the sense that he is a progressive three-year-old.
Given that the handicapper now has him on 109, he is favourably in here thanks to the age allowance. Portamento might well exploit the situation under the excellent William Buick, but this won't be easy just seven days after Chester, so odds of 7/4 look skimpy.
Most importantly, there is a viable alternative in the shape of Aeolus, which is decent value at up to 10/3. In 10 starts for Ed McMahon, the Arafa four-year-old won three times on good ground or slower, latterly in a Listed race at Haydock in May 2014. Aeolus failed to quite build on that in decent company, but a change in stable might help him fulfil his promise, likewise the fact that he was gelded before the turn of the year. On his May bow for Ed Walker in a Haydock Listed affair over seven furlongs on soft ground, he tired a little behind That Is The Spirit.
Walker then brought him back to six furlongs for a Newcastle Group Three, which he duly won with considerably more up his sleeve than a half-length margin suggests.
Around a length behind in third and fourth were Danzeno and Eastern Impact, both of which franked the form when fifth and third, respectively, in the July Cup.
Tellingly, Aeolus also turned the tables on That Is The Spirit to the tune of more than 10 lengths off identical weights. That is an indication of how much he is progressing, so, with conditions to suit, he is fancied to concede weight all round here under George Baker.
In the JLT, all bar one of the eight runners are rated 100 or higher, and the one that isn't is the second favourite Intilaaq, which flopped in the 2,000 Guineas after sluicing up here in the spring. Like Michael Stoute's Consort, he must prove himself over this 10-furlong trip.
Intilaaq might well bounce back, but even then he shouldn't be good enough to beat Consort. A stylish Listed winner at Sandown in May, the son of Lope De Vega was carried out on his shield when third to Gleneagles in the St James's Palace Stakes, having made the running.
He isn't sure to stay, but, if he does see out the trip under Frankie Dettori, he really ought to win.
For tomorrow's English Race cards, See Page 26
Year that Nashwan won the Derby, Eclipse & King George VI & QE II Stakes. Golden Horn will next week strive to become the first horse since to do the same