Sport Horse Racing

Monday 16 December 2019

Plum draw the key for Universal Truth

On a busy day for Irish runners at Newmarket, Eoin Griffin and Dermot Weld saddle the first two in the betting for what promises to be a thrilling Totesport Cesarewitch.

In recent weeks, Griffin's Admiral Barry headed the market, but an unfavourable draw has seen him relinquish favouritism to Weld's Universal Truth, the mount of seven-pound claimer Leigh Roche. Weld also saddles the Galway Plate third Majestic Concorde, so the raiding party looks strong for the prestigious 32-runner handicap.

Given Admiral Barry's rate of progression this summer, it's hard not to see him being involved at the business end today.

In seven Flat starts since returning from a year off over hurdles in the spring, he has won three, including two valuable handicaps at Galway and the Curragh, and never been out of the first three.

Having scored comfortably at headquarters last time, Admiral Barry has been raised nine pounds, but carries just a four-pound penalty here, so is five pounds well in.

Still only five-years-old, he undoubtedly has the scope to progress further, but there is no escaping that he will need to buck a considerable trend if he is to win from stall seven.

Of the last 10 Cesarewitch winners, nothing has won from lower than stall 11, with seven drawn in the 20s and 30s.

As a result, and with his price having drifted into double figures, each-way looks the most sensible option about Admiral Barry now.

Universal Truth, from a plum draw in stall 32, may be a better win option at 8/1. Successful three times in bumpers last year, the Galileo gelding also won a maiden on the Flat in June 2009, and has been lightly raced since then.

While he was subsequently beaten twice on the level last term, those efforts came on the back of a long season that had begun at Punchestown in February.

When he returned after nearly seven months off in a maiden at Galway in July, he duly obliged, and it's reasonable to assume that he will be a potent force in a first-time visor today.

When you factor in Roche's claim, Universal Truth makes its handicap debut off just 79. He is unexposed, will have no trouble with the two-and-a-quarter-mile trip and is fancied to give Weld a second win following Vintage Crop's triumph 18 years ago.

Six other Irish runners feature on the Newmarket card, following Aidan O'Brien's decision to withdraw Await The Dawn from the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes last night.

This is a very competitive Group One but Poet's Voice represents the value of the race at odds of arouond 6/1. The Godolphin inmate has come into his own over the past two months, foiling O'Brien's Rip Van Winkle as he secured a first Group One over a mile in Ascot's QE II last time.

While a few suspicions remain as to the strength of the form that day, Poet's Voice is clearly going the right way. A late maturing three-year-old, there is a chance that he is overpriced if he sees out the 10-furlong trip.

The in-form Frankie Dettori and Godolphin are also the team to side with in the card's opener, the Victor Chandler Challenge Stakes. Having run Poet's Voice to a head when conceding weight at Goodwood in August, Michael Stoute's Main Aim is the form horse here, but Ryan Moore's partner is already well exposed.

Dettori should have his measure on Delegator, a horse with proven class, but one that failed to fulfil its potential last season. On a belated seasonal reappearance at Newbury last month, the Dansili four-year-old did just enough to prevail, and while Eddie Lynam's Duff could make the places, the Godolphin colt may not need to improve much to follow up in this modest Group 2.

The Dewhurst is undoubtedly the highlight of the day, but it doesn't appeal as a betting heat. A wide-open Pride Stakes does, with Pat Flynn's admirable mare She's Our Mark looking a live each-way option at up to 20/1 as she is now back over her best trip of a mile and a half.

Best bet: Delegator

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