The THIRD and final day of the Cambridgeshire meeting is without doubt the best of the week.
Two Group One races and one of Europe’s biggest handicaps dominate one of the biggest race-days of the season and one which routinely produces a star two-year-old colt and/or filly.
The Group One Cheveley Park Stakes is a contest for two-year-old fillies raced over Newmarket’s straight six-furlongs. It is the first of two major trials for the following year’s Classic races, which are raced on the same Newmarket Rowley Mile course.
Michael Bell’s PRETTY POLLYANNA held off the challenge of SIGNORA CABELLO in the recent Prix Morny at Deauville and is fancied to come out on top again.
The daughter of Oasis Dream was 20-1 when winning the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes by seven lengths and seems to have improved past her chief rivals which also include Irish raiders FAIRYLAND and LADY KAYA who has each way claims.
Next up is the Group One Middle Park Stakes, this time for two-year-old colts over six furlongs and is a race renowned for producing both milers and sprinters of the future. Aidan O’Brien saddles the hugely exciting TEN SOVEREIGNS who has looked pretty special in two starts so far and will be hard to beat.
The three-day meeting is built towards tomorrow’s (Saturday) mouth-watering 1m1f Cambridgeshire handicap, which sees 35 horses aged three and older engage in a thrilling cavalry charge.
First run in 1839, the Cambridgeshire stands as part of the famous ‘Autumn Double’, alongside the Cesarewitch which is run each October over 2m2f.
All the last 16 winners were aged six or younger and 13 of those have carried 9-4 or less, but it is a contest that has been just too tough for some lightly raced contenders with Group potential, and last year we had a 50-1 winner and a 100-1 runner up with another 50-1 rag in third.
The Charlie Hills-trained AFAAK is high enough in the weights now but has some strong big field handicap performances in the bag having finished second in the Silver Cambridgeshire and Royal Hunt Cup, while he also took the Hambleton at York’s Dante meeting.
ALFARRIS looks sure to be a popular wager and travelled like a horse much better than a handicapper at York last time in a race he should have won, when Jim Crowley looked to overcook the waiting tactics. Every single line of his form looks solid and a guaranteed fast pace will be right up his street.
I have followed MITCHUM SWAGGER off the proverbial cliff in recent years and although he has an entry for the Cambridgeshire he may opt for his favoured Haydock especially if the ground is soft. He hasn’t been seen since finishing third in a strong Lincoln on the opening day of the turf season and there’s no doubt in my mind that he can win a handicap off a mark of 105.
TARBOOSH goes for a fantastic four timer in the Class 2 handicap at 3.15 but will have to overcome SOIE D’LEAU who has a good record at this time of year on slower surfaces and has dropped back to a mark off which he looks more than capable.