Alhellal to break loose at New market
ALHELLAL can provide Ireland with a first victory since 2007 in the Betfred Cesarewitch at Newmarket.
Not since Tony Martin struck with Leg Spinner five years ago has one of the most coveted handicap prizes of the season been claimed from across the Irish Sea.
But in Alhellal there appears a worthy pretender to the throne.
The six-year-old gelding is trained in Kildare by Maurice Phelan, whose unheralded profile is perhaps one of the reasons why he is such a generous price.
After all, he would appear to fill the criteria of many textbook Cesarewitch winners.
With the mastery of two miles and two furlongs a must, stamina is obviously a big factor in picking out a possible gem.
There should be no issues on that front with Alhellal, who was a hurdles winner over two and a half miles last August.
He has also demonstrated plenty of guts on the Flat, too, with his most recent victory in the Ulster Derby in June giving a clear indication he now needs a more exacting test that that mile and five furlongs.
Phelan's contender has won three races this summer in the manner of a progressive animal, but has presumably been kept on ice since June to protect what looks a most appealing weight of 8st 3lb.
Connections had expressed slight concern earlier in the week Alhellal would not appreciate too much more rainfall, even though it was very demanding at Down Royal last time, so the reasonably dry forecast has to be considered another boon.
As, too, is the appointment of Wayne Lordan, who is one of the shrewdest judges of pace on the Irish circuit.
The Cesarewitch is nearly always fraught with difficulty, but one name stands alone in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes earlier on the card.
Dawn Approach has comfortably looked the stand-out juvenile this season and is well equipped to give trainer Jim Bolger a fifth victory in this race from the last seven years.
The New Approach colt is unbeaten in six starts, which includes a facile success in the National Stakes, when he thumped the exciting Designs On Rome by nearly five lengths.
Perhaps his three-quarters-of-a-length defeat of Olympic Glory in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot is even more noteworthy, though, as that one landed the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp last weekend.
Dawn Approach really could not be better suited to Newmarket's exacting seven furlongs and can seamlessly follow in the hoofprints of his esteemed sire, who won the Dewhurst in 2007 before galloping to greatness in his Classic term.
Big things are also expected of the unbeaten Reckless Abandon in the Vision.ae Middle Park Stakes, but Moohaajim is taken to spoil the party.
The Clive Cox-trained Reckless Abandon had looked virtually unstoppable on his last two trips to France, but he is unlikely to get things all his own way as he did in the Prix Morny last time.
Moohaajim finished an unlucky-in-running fifth in the Morny, and showed he could be hot property in the Mill Reef on his next start.
He could be the value call in what is likely to be a far brisker encounter.
Recent Newbury scorer Scarf is a cautious ally in the Dubai Challenge Stakes, with the progressive Just The Judge set to add to her Listed gains at Newmarket in the Vision.ae Rockfel Stakes.
The similarly exciting Flying Officer is also deserving of attention in the Autumn Stakes, while Labarinto can be the star turn on a truly excellent card in the concluding Darley Stakes.
York's final meeting of the season is well up scratch, with Odooj the shout in the Listed coral.co.uk Rockingham Stakes.
William Haggas' juvenile is the highest-rated animal in the field and only went down by a length and a half in the Gimcrack over this course and distance in August.