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Tony Calvin: Patience needed for antepost players ahead of Newmarket action

A waiting game is advised this week
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It's a big week coming up at Newmarket with a host of mega races across Friday and Saturday. Tony Calvin offers his thoughts on the big ones...

"No-one would argue with the merit of that Goodwood win - Expert Eye looked imperious when sauntering clear and the fourth and fifth have since won Group 2 contests, so we have substance as well as style - but his subsequent absence is a concern."

It's fair to say that everyone was blown away when Expert Eye won the Vintage Stakes on the bridle, but he hasn't been seen for over two months and whether he should be 8/13 for the Dewhurst on Saturday has to be questioned.

No-one would argue with the merit of that Goodwood win - he looked imperious when sauntering clear and the fourth and fifth have since won Group 2 contests, so we have substance as well as style - but his subsequent absence is a concern.

He missed an intended engagement in the National Stakes at the Curragh last month because of a dirty scope - initially, one paper reported that he had a problem with a foot - and it is not as if this represents an easy task. Far from it.

In fact, you could easily argue that Verbal Dexterity achieved more when winning the aforementioned National Stakes by three-and-a-half lengths and Aidan O'Brien is responsible for seven of the 15 entries, including the Lagardere winner Happily and the Middle Park 1-2 of US Navy Flag and Fleet Review, not to mention the Champagne Stakes victor Seaheange.

And then we have the £2.6m yearling Emaraaty, who breezed home at Newbury last time. Expert Eye did make a deep impression at Goodwood but he does face some serious opposition at the weekend.


Constable an arresting price but it may pay to wait


The Cesarewitch will take centre stage as a being medium and John Constable currently heads the exchange market at [10.0], and it is not hard to see why.

He was last seen on the Flat in August 2014 when he raced off a mark of 94 for Aidan O'Brien, and he lines up here off a mark of 88.

That is probably generous enough in its own right but when you consider that he is now rated 156 over hurdles after running away with the Swinton and following up off a 16lb higher mark at Market Rasen in July then you have to think he could be thrown-in here.

But, if you fancy him, I would hold fire until the final declaration stage on Thursday.

The going at Newmarket is currently good with a pretty gloomy forecast. And, while not a lot of rain is expected and he has soft-ground form anyway, connections of the horse were at pains to point out that he is a "spring and summer" horse who blossomed in the sunshine. It doesn't look like he will be in any danger of sweating at the weekend.

I am happy to revisit the race once the final field is known.


O'Brien dominates the fillies field


There is also some high-class racing at Newmarket on Friday and it is no surprise to see O'Brien mob-handed in the Fillies Mile with five of the 14 entries, headed by his Lagardere winner Happily (who, as we have already noted, is also in the Dewhurst).

Ellthea looks overpriced at 16/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook as she was mightily impressive when beating Sizzling 2¾ lengths in a Group 3 at Naas last time but, again, I'll happily sit this one out until we know the ground and the opposition.


Rock not a solid starter in the Old Rowley


The Old Rowley Cup is an interesting 1m4f handicap and one packed full of unexposed, progressive types.

It is no surprise to see Torcello head the market given a return to forcing tactics saw him bolt up over course and distance last time - he is 2lb well-in here, even with his 6lb penalty - but dangers are not hard to find in what looks a pretty deep field.

Star Rock overcame a lengthy break when winning over track and trip last month, and that victory was all the more meritorious given she was very keen there. And the runner-up Cribbs Causeway franked the form when winning on Saturday.

She could prove to be well ahead of the handicapper still after just a 5lb rise.

Others to note include the well-related pair of Gold Star and Crowned Eagle, but my shortlist is headed by Star Rock at the moment, though unfortunately she has to be considered an unlikely starter given she needs a fair few to come out. And, given this is a 120k pot, that has to be considered unlikely.

Anyway, I will return on Thursday with, hopefully, some winning tips.

In the meantime, good luck.

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