Sport Horse Racing

Monday 23 July 2018

Johnny Ward: Librisa can 'Breeze' by Hungerford foes

Grey to snare Newbury prize for Dublin-born jockey Winston

Jockeys Colin Keane, Billy Lee, Ronan Whelan and Donnacha O’Brien with their TRI Equestrian-branded gear for next month’s Irish Champions Weekend
Jockeys Colin Keane, Billy Lee, Ronan Whelan and Donnacha O’Brien with their TRI Equestrian-branded gear for next month’s Irish Champions Weekend

Johnny Ward

Robert Winston is a British professor, medical doctor, scientist, television presenter and Labour Party politician.

However, the Robert Winston known more intimately to these pages came from the sort of gritty Dublin upbringing that MMA propagandists would have us believe Conor McGregor endured.

Winston the rider has perhaps not had the career it looked like he might have but he can take the feature Group Two Betfred Hungerford Stakes at Newbury, the finale in ITV4's coverage this afternoon on another relatively low-key Saturday.

He steers Librisa Breeze, which makes plenty of appeal. That he handles an ease so seamlessly is a major plus, but even his fourth to The Tin Man at Royal Ascot on his seasonal debut might suffice now. Dean Ivory has had some rather unflattering press of late and would appreciate a big-race winner.

Breton Rock will be popular. A 50/1 winner from out of the clouds at Goodwood in the Lennox Stakes, he gets to prove that was no fluke, with the ground no issue.

The Listed Denford Stakes is a cracker, with two Frankel colts prominent in the market, taking on the 103-rated New Approach offspring, Hey Gaman. Red Mist should improve the guts of a stone from his debut, if not more, and he may prove the answer for Simon Crisford.

Defoe may be at the end of his career but the horse named after the Bournemouth striker is quite the opposite in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes. The Dalakhani grey has claims but it is hard to oppose Frontiersman. Charlie Appleby's Dubawi colt was touched off by Highland Reel and Hawkbill recently and hardly needs to better that to take this cracker.

The other televised Newbury affair is the Ladies Day Handicap, in which Pat Shanahan runs Ionization. Bookmakers understandably hate laying each-way in these races and Sun Lover makes ample appeal for the four-place speculators for Roger Varian, especially as he is deeply consistent.

Newmarket's races will likely be run on terrain a little quicker than at Newbury. The Grey Horse Handicap is exactly what it says on the tin, a bizarrely prejudicial contest nevertheless popular with the adoring British racing public.

Aussie Rules gets his share of greys and Buccaneers Vault is put forward at 20/1. He is ground-versatile and genuine and capable of going well in a race of this nature for Paul Midgley.

A chance could also be taken on Vincenzo Coccotti, ridden by useful apprentice Hollie Doyle. The five-year-old has won off this rating and shaped well at Newbury in late June. He could prove a worthy "saver".

Bacchus may need a little respite from the handicapper, yet he is a likeable gelding and has each-way credentials for Irishman Brian Meehan in the sprint handicap. Meehan had 73 winners one season earlier this decade, but is nowhere near those numbers now. Every little helps. ITV4 also fits in the William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap, a traditionally competitive sprint. David O'Meara has an outstanding record in this - three winners out of the last six, and he could strike with the ex-Irish Al Qahwa.

Cheekpieces may bring about that little improvement needed to take this cavalry charge, with Graham Lee in the plate.

Irish Independent

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