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Hillstar ready to shine again for Moore at Newbury


Ryan Moore will be hoping to partner Hillstar to another victory today

Ryan Moore will be hoping to partner Hillstar to another victory today

Ryan Moore will be hoping to partner Hillstar to another victory today

Ayr's Gold Cup fixture will ensure Scotland continues to take centre stage across the water this afternoon, but it is at Newbury that one of the day's most interesting betting propositions runs.

Hillstar is after accumulating four consecutive runner-up finishes, so he is a horse plenty will be willing to take on in the Legacy Cup. Michael Stoute's four-year-old hasn't won in eight starts since slamming Battle Of Marengo in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last year.

However, at the risk of making excuses for Hillstar, he warrants the benefit of the doubt at odds of around 7/2.

After his Ascot win last summer, Stoute's prospect returned to the Berkshire venue to finish a cracking third behind Novellist and Trading Leather in the King George.

Stoute subsequently dropped him back to 10 furlongs and he simply isn't good enough to compete at Group One level over that trip, latterly being totally outclassed behind African Story in the Dubai World Cup in March.

It is since then that Hillstar has frustrated, but none of his defeats read too shabbily. At Chester in May, he found only last week's Irish St Leger hero Brown Panther too strong on unsuitably soft ground, where they drew a long way clear of the rest.

On Hillstar's return to the royal meeting for the Hardwicke Stakes, Telescope had already flown by the time Frankie Dettori managed to extricate him from a pocket on the rail.

Dettori then had another outing to forget on Hillstar in horrendous conditions at Newmarket, when a muddling pace compromised his chance before he chased home the in-form Cavalryman in commendable fashion, with the subsequent dual Group winner Pether's Moon back in third.

Ryan Moore was back in the saddle for the first time since Chester at Haydock last time, Stoute having again decided to experiment over a mile and a quarter.

Unsurprisingly, though, Hillstar was outpaced at a crucial stage before keeping on for second behind Mick Channon's Amralah, a highly-regarded sort that has since been sold to Australia for a tilt at the Melbourne Cup.

Hillstar has a tendency to race keenly, but the suspicion is that everything is in place for him to get back to winning ways in this Group Three. The mile-and-three-furlong trip is closer to his optimum, the ground should be quite good and the peerless Moore is booked to steer again.

Equally, the opposition isn't of the same quality that he has faced so far this term. Jeremy Noseda's Grandeur and the Godolphin filly Tasaday share a top-rating of 113 with Hillstar, but both operate at a slightly lower level.

Tasaday, well held in third behind Tapestry and Taghrooda at York and placed behind Treve in last year's Prix Vermeille before getting chinned by Dalkala in the Prix de l'Opera, clearly has a touch of quality. She might be the selection's chief threat.

Tommy Stack's mud-lark Scream Blue Murder is on duty in the five-furlong Group Three under Wayne Lordan. She beat a decent field of sprinters in a Curragh Group Three over six furlongs last month, and she would be of interest should a substantial amount of rain fall.

All told, though, Mecca's Angel is the one to beat. A specialist over the minimum distance, Michael Dods' grey Dark Angel filly scored for a third time in four starts when drawing clear of Reckless Abandon with real authority at Doncaster last week.

That was a performance that confirmed Paul Hanagan's mount as a significant improver in this sphere, so she is fancied to enhance that impression now.

In the Gold Cup at Ayr, Ger Lyons' Burn The Boats and Andrew Slattery's An Saighdiur vie for a first Irish-trained triumph in the prestigious handicap. The six-furlong cavalry charge is as competitive as ever with 27 runners, but An Saighdiur might just outrun massive odds.

He was unlucky when third in the Silver Cup for a second year in a row in 2013, and slammed Scream Blue Murder at Cork in April. While An Saighdiur is seven pounds higher now than 12 months ago, with rain forecast for the region, he is expected to go well. He has a favourable high draw and his rider Billy Lee is in irrepressible form.

Best bet: Hillstar

Irish Independent