Mark Milligan pens his final Saturday column before switching to Sundays next week, and has a couple of tips at Newmarket and York...
"Buzz could potentially be very well handicapped on his return to the level, and with Oisin Murphy booked, he looks to have a solid chance"
Welcome back TC!
I'd just like to start this column on a personal note.
My great mate Tony Calvin is fighting the battle of all battles at the moment, but what fantastic news it was to wake up to this morning that he'll be back doing what he does best next week: namely tipping winners in this space.
Moderate news yday so next 12 month phase of treatment starts with full brain and body MRI-CT scans. I'll hit it head on. Getting back to work for Champions Day. Thank you for all private messages and for @Betfair for being so loyal. I'll continue to be true to them and myself.? Tony Calvin (@tony_calvin) October 8, 2021
I'd like to publicly put on record my thanks to TC and Betfair for giving me the opportunity to sit in for him over the last few months(editor - you're welcome Mark!). And while it hasn't all been plain sailing (ie I haven't tipped as many winners as the big man!), I hope that I've provided a bit of quality insight into some top racing, coming at it from a slightly different perspective.
I'd also like to thank the readers of the column for the support they've shown me over the last couple of months, it's very much appreciated. To those who've read the column in TC's absence and enjoyed it, I have some good news for you. To those who think I've done a terrible job, the news may not be quite so good.
Starting this weekend, I'll be hanging around and penning a weekly column looking ahead to all the best that Irish racing has to offer, beginning with Sunday's Curragh card. This column will be with you throughout the winter and hopefully we can dig out a winner or two along the way.
Once again, thanks to Tony and Betfair for showing faith in me and my ramblings, and it only remains for me to say get well soon, TC - we're all fully behind you and can't wait to have you back in the hot seat for Ascot next week.
A Buzz around the Ces
Now, on to the pressing matter of trying to find a few winners on a fiendishly difficult Saturday.
It would be a remarkable achievement for Willie Mullins to win the Together For Racing International Cesarewitch (15:35) at Newmarket for the fourth successive year and he has every chance as he goes into the race six-handed.
The betting has M C Muldoon as his best chance and it's hard to disagree with that assertion. He was arguably a little unlucky not to win the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting in June and subsequently won over hurdles at Galway in July.
M C Muldoon is sure to be bang in the firing line but I'm going to side with another who is returning from the jumps sphere.
Buzz hasn't yet raced on the flat for Nicky Henderson but was a useful handicapper for Hughie Morrison back in 2019. He's improved markedly over hurdles for Henderson, however, culminating in a good runner-up finish in the Aintree Hurdle in the spring.
That form suggests Buzz could potentially be very well handicapped on his return to the level, and with Oisin Murphy booked, he looks to have a solid chance if translating his hurdles exploits, particularly with this stamina test sure to suit.
Classic clues in earlier races
The earlier Newmarket races give us a chance to assess next year's potential Classic crop and Charlie Appleby looks to hold the key to the juvenile contests.
The hugely exciting Native Trail is back in the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes (14:55) and he looks sure to take all the beating if in the same form as when winning the National Stakes at the Curragh last time.
He ran right away from Point Lonsdale in the final furlong, who himself had looked the one of the best juveniles around going into the race. The frightening prospect for his Dewhurst opponents is that Native Trail still looked far from the finished article in that Curragh race and the sky really is the limit for this son of Oasis Dream.
The Group 3 Emirates Autumn Stakes (14:20) gives up another chance to see yet another top-class Godolphin prospect in Coroebus, who ran a remarkable race when pipped in the Royal Lodge last time. Streaking clear two furlongs out, he fell in a hole in the last fifty yards or so and was reeled in by Royal Patronage.
Rather than focus on that last section, though, it's best to concentrate on the way Coroebus picked up when asked to go about his business, making everything else in the race looks pedestrian.
I suspect William Buick will hang on to him a little longer this time and it's unlikely he'll be reeled in once again. This is a horse who has the potential to be as exciting as Native Trail and should give Charlie Appleby a strong hand going into next year's 2000 Guineas.
Quality handicaps on the Knavesmire
There's also quality flat action at York on Saturday and the Play Coral Racing-Super-Series For Free Handicap (14:37) features a fascinating clash between two upwardly mobile three-year-olds in Bay Bridge and Faisal.
Bay Bridge looked a potential pattern performer when winning a typically strong renewal of the London Gold Cup at Newbury in the spring but hasn't been seen since. He'll take plenty of stopping if returning in the same sort of nick.
However, Faisal will be a tough nut to crack, having only lost his unbeaten record to Cambridgeshire runner-up Anmaat at Doncaster last time.
It's hard to choose between this pair on what they achieved to date so this a race best passed over for betting purposes.
The Coral Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap (16:25) provides us with a better opportunity, however, and I'm siding with smart jumper Gumball on his first start for the Fergal O'Brien yard.
With conditions likely to be on the testing side at York, his reserves of stamina could prove useful, and it's worth noting he's still unexposed on the flat having made only six starts on the level. A repeat of his run when third at Salisbury in May would probably suffice here and he could get the run of things towards the front end.
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Mark's 2021 P&L