Timeform preview Saturday's Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket and pick out their best bet...
"There should be even more to come from him and he can propel himself into next year’s 2000 Guineas picture..."
Timeform on Siskin
The Middle Park Stakes has had to take a back seat to the Dewhurst as a meaningful classic pointer in recent times, though it's worth noting that its last two winners, U S Navy Flag and Ten Sovereigns, have both gone on to win July Cups. This year's Middle Park looks to be a race to savour, however, and it could even prove to be more competitive than the Dewhurst three weeks later if Pinatubo scares off much of his potential opposition.
With the Dewhurst now in Pinatubo's sights, the Middle Park has become the new autumn target for Godolphin's other leading two-year-old Earthlight who had originally been earmarked by his trainer Andre Fabre for the Dewhurst instead. A son of Shamardal, like Pinatubo, Earthlight kept his own unbeaten record intact when beating no fewer than three Royal Ascot winners - Raffle Prize, Arizona and A'Ali - in the Prix Morny at Deauville last month. That was a strong renewal of that Group 1, and what was particularly striking - and likeable - about Earthlight's performance was the way in which he went about his business, putting his head down and sticking his neck out when it mattered. That success came on the softest ground he had encountered, too, meaning that he won't be inconvenienced by the forecast rain set to hit Newmarket this week, and you can see why the bookmakers have installed him as a short-priced favourite in their ante-post books.
There is plenty of depth to this race, though, and another horse who is sure to be popular with punters is Mums Tipple following his frighteningly good display in a valuable sales race at York's Ebor meeting. Such contests do not normally throw up Group 1 performers, but Mums Tipple's performance was backed up by the clock, breaking well and never seeing another rival, powering away from his 20 rivals to record an 11-length success. The fourth from that race won a listed contest at Ayr last week, so the form is starting to work out, and Mums Tipple is well worth his place in this company. The question mark surrounding him is the ground, given that both of his wins to date have come on ground Timeform described as good to firm. The way in which he skipped across the Knavesmire last time doesn't suggest that he would be as effective on easier ground, for some of his sire's progeny do tend to go well with cut in the ground.
Mums Tipple's stablemate Threat has also received an entry following his impressive victory in the Champagne Stake at Doncaster last time. He has looked very promising so far, his defeat to Golden Horde in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood coming as a surprise to trainer Richard Hannon, but Threat hasn't looked back since, supplementing his Gimcrack victory at Doncaster two weeks ago. He had to concede 3 lb to all of his rivals on that occasion, too, making the style of the win even more impressive, tanking into contention two furlongs from home and in full control when hanging right in the closing stages. Whether connections decide to run here remains unclear, as it would be three relatively quick runs in succession, but there is no doubting he is a Group 1 horse, and the drop back to six furlongs won't be a problem given the speed he has shown.
Aidan O'Brien has taken the last two renewals of the Middle Park and he has four options to choose from at this stages. The two that stand out, though, are Monarch of Egypt and Lope Y Fernandez. The former overcame obvious signs of inexperience to make a winning debut at Naas in April, but has since proved no match for Siskin in the Railway Stakes and Phoenix Stakes, both at the Curragh. He lost little in defeat on the latter occasion, just losing out to a superior rival and, though he remains with fewer miles on the clock, it is hard to see him reversing that form with a race-fit Siskin. Lope Y Fernandez has also met with defeat twice, both times at the hands of Pinatubo, in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood. However, he put up a career-best effort to resume winning ways dropped to six furlongs in the Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh last time. Another step forward is needed to follow up here, but he remains unexposed at the trip and represents leading connections, so it would be folly to ignore his claims.
Ger Lyons enjoyed a fantastic couple of weeks in August when firstly Siskin gave him his first Group 1 winner on native soil in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh, and not long after Mustajeer made a successful raid in the £1 million York Ebor. Things didn't go Lyons' way in the Ayr Gold Cup more recently with Buffer Zone, but he is fancied to be dining at the top table once more this weekend courtesy of his star two-year-old Siskin. Connections decided not to take on Pinatubo in the National Stakes last time in favour of this option, and he looks the one to be with at the prices. The form of his victory in the Phoenix Stakes last time is right up there with what Earthlight achieved in the Prix Morny, so the disparity in prices doesn't really make sense, especially given that Siskin had no problem with heavy ground on that occasion. There should be even more to come from him and he can propel himself into next year's 2000 Guineas picture - there is stamina on the dam's side of the pedigree which offers hope of him staying a mile.