THE weekend at Newmarket acts as a prelude to the much awaited QIPCO Champions Day at Ascot next week, where the stars of the season such as Opinion Poll, Blue Bunting, Deacon Blues, Hoof It and the greatest horse in training, Frankel, are all scheduled to appear.
Before that we have ‘Future Champions Day’ with the two top Group 1 two-year-old races both run this Saturday. The Middle Park Stakes was won last year by Dream Ahead and the Dewhurst by Frankel and they have both gone on to achieve great things this year.
Starting with the Middle Park Stakes, over six furlongs, it looks a wide open contest, with strong contenders who have been consistent all year such as Lilbourne Lad, Tough as Nails, Saigon to name but a few. Caspar Netcher was successfully tipped for his win last time out, and will run his usual good solid race, but the answer looks to be BAPAK CHINTA for the Kevin Ryan yard.
The unbeaten colt was incredibly impressive when winning a maiden at Hamilton beating subsequent group winner Frederick Engels. He then followed up by winning the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot over five furlongs. He won going away and the step up to 6 furlongs should improve him further. The form from the race has worked out well with Burwaaz showing to be tough and durable, as well as Charles the Great winning the Weatherby’s Super Sprint and Tell Dad winning the Tattersalls Millions race.
EKTIHAAM looks a good bet for the Dewhurst for the Sheikh Hamdan family, and he can use this as a springboard to future classic glory next spring. The son of Invincible Spirit made the best possible start when winning a Newbury maiden, beaten a very strong field. The second, third, fifth and sixth all have won subsequently, including beating the Jeremy Noseda classic entered Harvard N Yale. That was followed by a Conditions Stakes win at Doncaster at their St Leger Festival. The manner of the victory was nothing short of impressive, and although the form hasn’t worked out that well, he looks to be open to lots of improvement. Aidan O’ Brien could have any number of runners, and if National Stakes winner Power turns up he would be very difficult to beat. Red Duke is another who has shown promise and could run into a place.
KEYS is a horse I have followed for a while now, ear-marking him for future glory last season and backing him for the Cheltenham Bumper. An injury dashed those dreams, but switched to the flat he has retained all of his class for trainer Roger Charlton, and his manner of victory at Newbury two starts ago was simply breath-taking. He won on the bridle, and was turned out again quickly to win at Ascot a week later under a penalty. The trip shouldn’t pose any problems, and with Richard Hughes booked to ride, there will be no excuses for Keys to not run a good race come Saturday.
Internationaldebut is a horse who I have followed closely this year and he is thriving for trainer Paul Midgely after having an unlucky start to the season. He would travel well but find little off the bridle, as seen when an opening second at Doncaster with Kieren Fallon on board. That has changed recently with two wins in strong handicaps followed up by landing the hat-trick in a conditions event at Beverley. A step back up to his preferred 6 furlongs should suit, and although now 16lb higher than when his winning streak started he should run another consistent, strong race.
2.35 (Newmarket) Bapak Chinta (Nap)
3.10 (Newmarket) Ektihaam
3.50 (Newmarket) Keys (Ew)
4.05 (York) Internationaldebut (Ew)