Sunday 17 November 2019

Look to Palmer's 'Master' at Newbury

Six-furlong trip could really suit son of Kodiac in Group Three

Gifted Master (left), edging out Beacon Rock at Newmarket in 2015, can prevail at Newbury today Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Gifted Master (left), edging out Beacon Rock at Newmarket in 2015, can prevail at Newbury today Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Johnny Ward

After a Saturday of such plentiful racing action of the top-notch variety that it was hard to focus on anything else, today is relaxing.

With the Irish combat rather run-of-the-mill, the British action is similarly quiet by relative terms, with ITV3's show today having a pivot race of a Group Three, the bet365 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury. There is no TV3 service.

This is a race that could be a nice starting point for the campaign at home for Hugo Palmer's Gifted Master. This steed has won over five furlongs and a mile, yet his aggressive manner of racing tends to render him vulnerable at the latter distance when competing in Group company.

Showing his hand fresh is no issue and, this being his first run since a respectable effort in Group Two class in Meydan in February, he ought to be ready to go. This race was won by The Tin Man last year; it does not look quite as strong 12 months on.

Palmer notably runs another son of Kodiac, Koropick, which is progressing at three and worth a shot at this level.

The Bathwick Tyres Handicap is the first test for punters on the couch today and one of the more solid ones, in a race replete with runners with a little to prove, is Early Morning, the mount of the now-freelance Fran Berry.

Forget his poor run at Royal Ascot, when things went wrong, and he has rarely disappointed. Moreover, he was touched off when rated 100, his mark today, at Ascot in a mile handicap last year, and he has plenty going for him.

Spark Plug, tipped here two runs back when the mile seemed a bit sharp, duly won since at Sandown. He has strong claims in the bet365 Stakes but gives weight away and a chance is taken on last year's Royal Lodge hero Best Of Days, which landed a major gamble then.

Hugo Palmer's colt struggled in his return but that was in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot and he may not have stayed the distance.

Newbury also hosts the Weatherbys Super Sprint, a fascinating contest for the youngsters, and the Kevin Ryan-trained Falabelle, which showed ample natural ability on debut, is a poke at a price now.

Over at Newmarket, Skiffle seems worth another chance in the Betbright Aphrodite Stakes. Her only run of the season can be safely ignored and this is a nice opportunity for Charlie Appleby to test her stamina for 12 furlongs.

Market Rasen can expect a bumper crowd for its main meet, featuring the Betfred TV Summer Handicap Hurdle. Curious Carlos is notable here, as Peter Bowen teams up with son James, who is quite excellent value for a 10lb claim.

The feature Summer Plate has a nice each-way angle with 16 runners. Perhaps recent course winner I'dliketheoption can follow up for Jonjo O'Neill.

Watching brief

Racing is a results game and Harry Kelly will be praying that things pick up for him in that regard henceforth.

Operating at an 18pc hit-rate with his jumpers five seasons ago, big things were expected of the likeable young trainer, but one winner from 142 runners last term (12 seconds) showed that things had gone a bit backwards.

Things should turn around for Kelly but it is interesting that one of his smartest steeds, Lagostovegas, was switched to Willie Mullins. Favourite on her first start for the champion trainer, she pulled up over hurdles, but the backers returned at Killarney midweek when she demolished her rivals in a Flat handicap.

Mullins will potentially view the Galway Hurdle as realistic for the filly, but she would not get into the race with her current rating. Wherever she runs next she will surely be really hard to beat, be it on the Flat or hurdling.

Irish Independent

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