It goes without saying that this weekend is huge for John Gosden and all eyes will be on the brilliant Enable in the Arc. But it may well be that he gets a pretty significant strike on Saturday afternoon in a race that he’s always excelled in.
The win of Halling in the Cambridgeshire in the early 90’s will live long in the memory. How Gosden managed to get him so well handicapped will forever remain a mystery, but he was a brilliant horse, well ahead of the game on that occasion.
Similar comments apply to Pipe Dreamer a decade and a half later and it might just be that Linguistic can provide the trainer with a win in this famous handicap.
Big field handicaps these days rarely feature too many unexposed, progressive types, but Linguistic certainly falls into that category and when he made his seasonal reappearance at Kempton, he looked as though he’d come on a bit, even from last season’s useful form.
The fact that he’s not run since 1st April doesn’t worry me in the slightest. It means that his handicap mark has been preserved and one thing we know is that he should see out a very strongly run 9f with ease, such is his good form over further.
It’s also notable that he’s run three excellent races on the three occasions he’s run on the Rowley Mile and his jockey, James Doyle, is simply in sparkling form! Any further for him will be no inconvenience and I expect him to run a huge race.
The biggest danger might come from Big Country, who’s been well touted this week. He too should be well suited to the unique demands of this race.
Numbers wise, it’s a slightly disappointing field for the Royal Lodge which opens up Newmarket’s card and Nelson is understandably a short priced favourite after his win on Irish Champions Weekend.
Whilst he’s clearly a very, very high class horse who stays extremley well, this is no gimme and I fancy that Mildenberger could give him a little bit to think about. He’s a really tough horse with an excellent attitude, and for all that he needs to improve on in form, he’s not going to know when to give up – at odds of 9/2 , I’m looking to him to give the favourite a fright.
Aidan O’Brien is again responsible for the favourite in the Chevely Park and Clemmie has looked a completely different proposition the last two times she’s won, to the filly who was well beaten at Royal Ascot.
However, there might be a little bit of value in this race which could come in the shape of Madeline, who has made significant strides of late, most notably, finishing second in the Lowther, behind her rival in this race, Threading.
To my eyes she looked as if she’d be well suited by this slightly stiffer test of stamina. She’s tough, reliable and whilst you have to take a stretch of the imagination for her to beat either the favorite or the filly that beat her at York, she’s simply too big of a price at 12/1.
O’Brien could get a good bit closer to Bobby Frankel’s all time record of Group One wins on Saturday afternoon and if his two hotpots haven’t won, I certainly think Sioux Nation might take the Middle Park Stakes.
This is a really big, powerful animal, who’s already a winner at this level. He wouldn’t want too much rain but I think he holds a clear class edge and 9/2 is a pretty decent price.
Of course, all this is simply a prelude to the big race on Sunday. It’s a race where it’s not hard to be positively disposed towards many of these, but at 8/1, I think Ulysses is value and can get a good bit closer to Enable than he did in the King George.
It’s a less demanding test of stamina, the ground is likely to be less soft than it was at Ascot and the track is tighter and more turning. He’s a handy horse who travels well and should be able to adopt a lovely toe into the race from the favourite and if Jim Crowley times his challenge right, there wont be much in it between them.
Given that one is odds on and the other is eight times the price, it’s easy to come down on the side of Ulysses.
Best Of Luck,
1.50 – Royal Lodge Stakes – Mildenberger
2.20 – Chevely Park Stakes – Madeline
2.55 – Middle Park Stakes – Sioux Nation
3.35 – Cambridgeshire Hanidcap – Linguistic
3.05 – l’Arc De Triomphe – Ulysses.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.