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Gosden's Taqleed the value bet

Tony Martin, the only Irish trainer in recent times to have won the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket, saddles the sole raider in this afternoon's valuable 35-runner handicap.

Successful with She's Our Mare in 1999, Martin is represented this year by Pires. Second in a decent handicap at the Curragh three weeks ago, Pires has a chance, but the six-year-old looks slightly exposed alongside some potentially smart rivals today.

Luca Cumani's Start Right, fourth to Hujaylea at the Curragh previously, will be popular. With Hujaylea and the third horse, Separate Ways, since franking that form with further wins, Start Right has to be respected. Nonetheless, this is its seventh start as a three-year-old, so it may also be vulnerable to something that has been less busy.

John Gosden, who has won the nine-furlong cavalry charge three times in the past, including two of the last three, may hold the key. The shrewd local handler saddles three three-year-olds -- the favourite Nationalism, Taqleed and High Twelve.

Given that Gosden has been responsible for two of the only five of that age group to win the race in the past 20 years, his team warrants close inspection, with Nationalism and Taqleed of most interest.

Nationalism, with William Buick up, comes here amid some expectation on the back of a smooth victory on its handicap debut. With just a 4lb penalty for that soft ground Goodwood win, Nationalism may be hard to beat.

However, its form hasn't been franked too well since, so its price is probably about right at 5/1.

Taqleed, at up to 12/1, is better value under Richard Hills.

Never a factor on its only outing at two, Hamdan Al Maktoum's gelding hosed up over a mile on its return in August, before subsequently overcoming its inexperience to draw clear in its first handicap over 10 furlongs on slow ground at Newmarket.

The same owner's Sharaayeen, second that day, subsequently defied a 2lb hike to score easily at Newbury, paying Taqleed a massive compliment in the process.

While Taqleed is now 10lb higher, the handicapper may not have its measure yet. The son of Shamardal is proven over the trip and on the ground, has a favourable high draw, and gets in off a nice weight of 8st 11lb.

In the day's Group One, the Sun Chariot Stakes, Spacious can be backed at up to 6/1 and is overpriced at that. A runner-up on her last three starts, James Fanshawe's mare is a model of consistency, coming up just short behind the classy three-year-olds Music Show and Lillie Langtry respectively on her most recent outings.

At Leopardstown last time Spacious had Music Show over a length behind in third, yet that one is two points shorter today. When you take into account that Music Show has had a hectic campaign -- this will be her eighth start -- it's not unreasonable to assume that the more battle-hardened Spacious will again have her measure.

Later on the card, Santefisio appeals in the seven-furlong handicap at 4.50. With few of the 13 runners bringing even placed form into this, the Totesport-sponsored event isn't the most competitive.

The four-year-old Santefisio, while unproven on the ground, at least looks like a horse heading in the right direction. Twice a winner last season, Jimmy Fortune's mount has run just three times this year.

On his two most recent outings in June, both at Goodwood, he filled the runner-up berth, latterly in a race that has worked out well.

Bearing in mind that the offspring of Santefisio's sire Efisio tend to handle slow ground, Peter Makin's gelding might even improve for the conditions.

The Taqleed team of Gosden, Maktoum and Hills have another strong hand in the last.

Dhaamer is their representative here, and the three-year-old is fancied to account for Sharaayeen, which has been hit with a considerable 13lbs for its easy Newbury win.

Best bet: Dhaamer

Irish Independent