Turf Talk: Lieutenant primed for battle

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OK OK, sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say “Wow, that was some animal!”, and last week’s demolition job by Treve in the Arc was exactly one of those occasions.

She is a fantastic filly and missing out on one like that can sometimes make you feel a right mug as a punter.

This weekend sees our attention switch back to these shores for the second part of the autumn double at Newmarket, with the Cesarewitch topping the bill. At the time of writing the current favourite for the race is the Lady Cecil trained Tiger Cliff.

This ultra-tough, lightly-raced gelding wasn’t seen on a racecourse until last August, but his stock has risen considerably this season. After reappearing in May with a win in a decent Newmarket handicap, he ran an excellent second to Well Sharp in the Ascot Stakes at the royal meeting, followed by his biggest win to date last time out in the Ebor at York. He’s been allotted top weight for this however and, in the hustle and bustle of a 35-plus runner handicap, giving weight away to some useful rivals will not be easy.

Tiger Cliff’s owner, Henry Ponsonby, has another interesting contender for this in the shape of Lieutenant Miller from the all-conquering jumps yard of Nicky Henderson. Not unlike Tiger Cliff, he’s another who’s done nothing wrong all season, finishing one behind the Cecil horse at Royal Ascot before a good second at Goodwood last time out.

National Hunt yards have had a fantastic record in this in recent years, and it would certainly be no surprise to see a big Saturday pot return to Seven Barrows. Still relatively unexposed on the flat, Lieutenant Miller looks a good bet to enjoy the step up in trip and the owner has said he’s been aimed at the race all season long.

With British Champions Day at Ascot on the horizon, there will be a handful of young pretenders hoping they can establish themselves at the top of their generation this weekend at Newmarket on what has been termed ‘Future Champions Day’.

The group 1 Dewhurst Stakes is often seen as the key two-year-old race when looking towards the 2000 Guineas, and Aidan O’Brien has his usual stronghold over the entries, led by impressive Coventry Stakes winner War Command. However, the War Front colt has failed to live up to the hype since his romp at the royal meeting and the form of the race itself hasn’t worked out well. Despite returning to winning ways last time out I am not particularly enamoured with his overall level of form and he’s not my idea of the winner.

Ballydoyle stablemate Great White Eagle is also entered for the race, and although he hacked up on his debut and was immediately introduced to the fore of the Guineas market, his follow-up success in a group 3 at the Curragh was slightly disappointing. For me the jury’s still out on this one.

In my view, the best level of form to be brought into the race is that of the David Wachman runner Sudirman. It was he who emphatically burst the War Command bubble in the Phoenix, and there was no disgrace in finishing runner-up to the very smart Toormore (very much a horse to follow next year) last time out in the National Stakes.

Being by Henrythenavigator, he’ll want good ground or better to show his best, so if you’re getting involved make sure you check the going first. Opposition also arises from supplemented Godolphin duo Be Ready and Outstrip.

Elsewhere, in the Coral Sprint Trophy at York, I’ll be backing the old boy Regal Parade at a big price to follow up last year’s victory in the race off a 6lb lower mark.

SATURDAY SELECTIONS (Oct 12th)

Newmarket 3.10 - Sudirman

York 3.30 - Regal Parade

Newmarket 3.50 - Lieutenant Miller