Newbury welcomes the return of the Hunderford Stakes.
Heavy rain in Berkshire on Thursday promises to leave the Newbury track very soft for Saturday’s Hungerford Stakes, and that may see an already select field of seven whittled down further, as Richard Hannon’s pair Professor and Producer better on fast ground – the former needs to hear his hooves rattle, and his recent Haydock win on ground described as good to soft is misleading; the going that day wasn’t as slow as advertised, and I’d expect him to be an absentee as things stand.
Several of the field have shown form with cut, but only one could be said to be a mudlark, and that is the improving Breton Rock, who has a record of three wins and two seconds from five starts on ground adjudged as soft or worse by Timeform, making him a likely candidate for favouritsim in the betting once declarations declaration are made.
He’s graduated from the handicap ranks this year, and showed he was capable of grabbing a pattern race when beaten a short head by Penitent at Haydock in May. Saved for an autumn campaign since then, the recent rain will be like manna from heaven to David Simcock, and while his charge has been absent for eleven weeks, he’ll presumably be fit to fire with ideal conditions.
2013 winner Gregorian makes a quick reappearance after a below-par effort in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last Sunday, and while it’s pretty easy to draw a veil over that flop, with the 5-y-o entire finding himself isolated by the draw from the quartet who dominated, it must be said that his finishing effort was very tame. He was spared a hard race when beaten there, but needs to leave that listless performance behind if he’s to register back-to-back wins in this event.
Chil The Kite is another who has been kept largely to a sound surface of late, but has a soft ground win to his name at Chantilly in his youth, so may not be a lost cause in the conditions. He was an impressive winner over C&D earlier in the summer, and looked an unlucky loser in the Royal Hunt Cup subsequently, suggesting he’s better than ever. He’s stepping up in class again, but is not one to take lightly, and may provide some value.
Es Que Love appreciated the return to this trip when landing the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, and that form was advertised when Garswood won the Maurice de Gheest with Gregorian in arrears. A literal reading of the form makes him look the one to beat, but his record in the mud is uninspiring, for all his poor efforts in such conditions came when in the care of Mark Johnston.
A solid third in the Duke of York in May is his only run with significant ease since joining Clive Cox, and it’s not impossible that a different regime has helped him deal with cut underfoot, but it remains a niggling doubt on the balance of his form.
In summary, this race will take on a different complexion if the forecast showers fail to materialise, but it looks likely to be a mudbath as things stand, and that will suit Breton Rock down to the ground (pun intended); last year’s winner Gregorian is also at home when it’s bottomless, but he ran a poor race at Deauville less than a week ago, and that makes him opposable.
Chil The Kite is a C&D winner on fast ground, and will be a big threat if coping with the different conditions, so is preferred of the others.
The BetBright Verdict
Win Selection: Breton Rock
Each-Way Alternative: Chil The Kite
As ever, you can have a bet on the Hungerford Stakes and all the races at Newbury and elsewhere in our horse racing odds section on the main site now!