It wouldn't take much inspection to find an easier punting opportunity than this afternoon's Betfred Mobile Sports Ladies' Day Handicap (3.40) at Newbury but amongst the declared field of 16 runners lies a horse that has caught my eye on more than one occasion and despite the obviously competitive nature of the race, this could be the ideal contest for the progressive Jacob Cats.
Richard Hannon’s three-year-old is still very much on a learning curve and has the look of a horse that could be capable of better than he has shown to date.
He came from off the pace to win handsomely at Sandown back in May and followed up with another convincing victory at the same track last month.
He was turned out just six days later for a competitive and valuable race at Goodwood and while he ran respectably to finish fourth, beaten only a length, behind Uppercut, the way his usually potent finishing effort petered out suggested the run may have come too soon.
He drops back to seven furlongs this afternoon but that could play to his strengths as he can be free in the early part of his races and a stronger pace on Newbury’s galloping track could curb that tendency.
The return of Ryan Moore also looks to be a real positive.
The horse needs strong handling and if Moore can get the colt settled in the early stages, the jockey’s relentless drive, which earned a facile success at Sandown last month, can bring out the best in his mount once more.
The one absolute must for the horse is ground no worse than good. Should it deteriorate, his chance would be more than a little compromised and it would be a no-bet race.
On the forecast good going, he should be very hard to keep out of the frame and rates strong each-way material.
The Group 3 Geoffrey Greer Stakes (2.30) boasts a far smaller field but is certainly no less competitive and it may be worth taking a chance on one of the outsiders, Modun.
Formerly with Michael Stoute, he ran out a comfortable winner of a Group 3 race on the all-weather at Kempton last September and, in doing so, had one of today’s opponents, Harris Tweed, back in third place.
Settled towards the rear as the last-named set a modest pace, Modun moved up stylishly before being hard ridden to assert late in proceedings.
Holding his head in an awkward manner, he couldn’t be accused of really letting himself go but that just suggests that there is more in the locker. He is also 2lbs better off with Harris Tweed.
Improvement will need to be forthcoming as some of his rivals are proven at a higher level.
Masked Marvel had Brown Panther three lengths behind when winning last year’s Doncaster St Leger but the winner has really struggled to scale those heights this term.
The Classic form was reversed when the pair clashed in the King George recently and on evidence of this season’s outings, it seems as though Brown Panther should have the edge once more.
He was beaten only four lengths behind Danedream at Ascot and that form is good enough to ensure he plays a major role in today’s race.
Mount Athos could not have been more impressive when carrying top weight to victory in what looked a very tough race on the Knavesmire last month. While this is a step up in grade, the official handicapper believes that York form puts him right in the mix and I certainly agree with him.
Visually it was a terrific performance and, as a progressive five-year-old, I think he is the most likely winner of today’s race.
However, he’s short enough in the betting and that persuades me to side with Modun.
While the latter has been a shade disappointing on his three runs for Godolphin, there were mitigating circumstances each time.
The make-up of this race looks like it could play to his strengths and at odds of 10-1, he provides the best value in what is a really competitive race.
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