It's Cambridgeshire day at Newmarket on Saturday and Mark Milligan has a bet in the big one as well as a nicely-priced juvenile that should go well...
"His sharp turn of foot could well prove to be a potent weapon in this sort of strongly run race"
Halling, Pipedreamer, Tazeez, Wissahickon and Lord North.
Those are the five horses that have come home in front in the Cambridgeshire for the Gosden stable - and there are some quality names among them. Given the stable's record in the race, that seems the obvious starting point for this year's renewal of the annual Rowley Mile cavalry charge.
All the talk in the build up to this most competitive of handicaps has centred around the lightly raced three-year-old Uncle Bryn, who has been ante-post favourite since winning at Ascot earlier in the month.
However, a rather large Dettori-shaped spanner was thrown in the works when the decs came through on Thursday and we found out that Rab Havlin was to ride Uncle Bryn, with the Italian on Magical Morning.
That news inevitably precipitated a drift on Uncle Bryn, with money coming for the other Gosden runner, though how much we can actually read into these jockey bookings is anyone's guess.
For me, I don't think either represent great value at the current prices.
The race that Uncle Bryn won at Ascot was a weak one for the grade and he'll need to step up on that, while Magical Morning will likely need to improve again if he's to defy a mark of 106.
Astro King has shaped all season as though he has a big handicap in him and it would be no surprise to see Sir Michael Stoute's Kingman colt go well. His one blip came when finishing lame in the John Smith's Cup at York but he proved none the worse for that when placed in a good handicap there last time. This nine-furlong trip and a strong gallop should see him to maximum effect.
Chichester has been firmly on the up since joining the Keith Dalgleish yard from the Stoute stable at the start of this season, culminating in him fairly bolting up at Ayr last week. He's due to be raised markedly in future races for that success so it's no surprise that connections are keen to take their chance with him just nine days later.
As one would expect in a thirty-five runner handicap, there are numerous others that can be given chances, though my pin eventually landed on a horse with a similar profile to Uncle Bryn.
Anmaat is another relatively unexposed three-year-old who has improved in leaps and bounds over the last couple of months and could well have more to offer. His progress looked to have stalled when only second at Newbury in July but he's subsequently won his last two races, including when taking the scalp of the previously unbeaten Faisal at Doncaster last time.
Quickening to lead under two furlongs from home, the son of Awtaad only needed to be ridden out to hold off the runner-up, coming home a decisive winner. His sharp turn of foot could well prove to be a potent weapon in this sort of strongly run race and he looks worth siding with each-way on enhanced place terms.
Ballydoyle to take big juvenile contest
The meat of the rest of Newmarket's Saturday card is made up of quality juvenile contests, headed by the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at 15:00.
Perfect Power heads the market and rightly so judged on his win in the Prix Morny at Deauville last time, where he reversed form with a couple of horses that he'll face again here. A repeat of that will see him go close.
Armor was much improved when landing the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood but he didn't progress as expected for step up to six furlongs behind Perfect Power in the Morny.
His run when second at Doncaster last time wasn't too bad but the feeling is he'd benefit from softer ground.
Irish raider Dr Zempf is another one with the form to figure in a race like this, his second to Ebro River in the Phoenix Stakes last time being a decent effort, particularly when you consider the winner had the benefit of the often-favoured stand-side rail.
Asymmetric, Castle Star and Go Bears Go are others that should be capable of playing a part on their best form, with the Clive Cox-trained Caturra another that could enter the equation.
However, they've all shown their hands to varying degrees while the horse I'm going to side with still has untapped potential.
Aidan O'Brien could barely buy a winner going into Irish Champions weekend but since then the stable has been absolutely flying, hitting at a 40% strike-rate. Amongst those winners was HMS Endeavour (pictured), who was winning his second race in a row in a minor contest at Dundalk last Friday evening.
While the bare form of that contest leaves him with plenty to find in this field, it's worth noting that the son of War Front is bred to be a genuine Group 1 performer, being out of the excellent American mare Lady Eli, who was a multiple Grade 1 winner in the States.
Obviously, these connections are not known for tilting at windmills, so if Aidan O'Brien considers HMS Endeavour ready to tackle this sort of grade, who am I to question that decision? I'm quite happy to take a chance on this one at double-figure prices.
Mark's 2021 P&L
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