A field of 16 look set to do battle in the Group 2 Betfred Hungerford Stakes at Newbury on Saturday afternoon. It’s by far-and-away the biggest and most competitive field we’ve had for the Hungerford in recent seasons. The race looks a proper renewal this year and it should be a cracker, as well as a good betting medium.
Betfred Hungerford Stakes Preview
Despite the late withdrawals of Home Of The Brave (not eaten up) and Limato (ground) we still have a good race. It’s a real shame the aforementioned pair are out as they were two of the headline horses in the field. Sadly, there is also talk of Safety Check not running due to the softening ground. This means we may have 13 horses going to post.
With the non-runners, Andrew Balding’s Here Comes When is the race favourite. It’s great to see connections finally drop this five-year-old back down to seven furlongs with the son of Danehill Dancer being campaigned over a mile all season. To us, he looks every inch a seven furlongs specialist so tomorrow’s trip is a big plus.
Subsequently, the recent rain that has fallen at Newbury is another bonus. A strongly run seven on soft ground is perfect for Here Comes When and he’ll get at least two of those tomorrow. He holds a strong chance with the Hungerford Stakes representing a big drop in class.
With Safety Check likely to be a non-runner, Cable Bay will be even more prominent in the market. Like the favourite, this horse appears to be another seven furlong specialist and has been stretched by running over a mile all season. At Newbury, in the Lockinge Stakes earlier in the season, Charlie Hills’s horse actually finished a length in front of Here Comes When.
There was no fluke about that so it’s surprising to see the son of Invincible Spirit twice the price of the market leader. He’ll have no problem with soft ground so is strongly respected and looks to represent value compared to the favourite.
Yet another horse who will be suited by race conditions tomorrow is last year’s Hungerford Stakes winner, Breton Rock. David Simcock’s charge is a real soft ground specialist so the more rain that falls, the better.
He was third in last year’s Challenge Stakes at Newmarket behind Here Comes When and Cable Bay, only a length separated the three in the end. There is little between the trio on that evidence. The more rain that falls the better for his chance and the big field should suit his hold-up style.
Last year’s Chesham Stakes winner at Royal Ascot, Richard Pankhurst makes his belatedly return to the track after 420 days off. His win at the 2014 Royal meeting marked him down as a serious horse, but he’s obviously had his problems. The son of Ravens Pass is probably best watched, but is not entirely ruled out.
William Haggis’s Adday has the class to go close, but this trip on soft terrain may stretch his stamina. Heaven’s Guest and Windfast are both in winning form, but this is a big step-up in grade for them. Tupi is yet another with the class to go close, but unsuitable underfoot conditions mean he may struggle to show his best. Of those at double figure prices, Markaz looks a touch overpriced.
The BetBright Verdict
A race that has unfortunately been marred by late withdrawals, but we still have a competitive contest and a good betting medium. There looks to be many who may struggle in this grade so it’s best not to get too clever. Of those at big prices Markaz can run well, but he may struggle on the ground compared to some.
Richard Pankhurst will need a big performance to win on debut and is passed over meaning Here Comes When, Cable Bay and Breton Rock are the ones to concentrate on.
On various bits of form there is little between this trio so on value grounds Here Comes When is passed over. His keen-going ways and his draw in one mean we’ll look elsewhere. Connections finally drop him in trip, however, and that could be the making of him.
Cable Bay just managed to finish in front of Breton Rock when they met in the Challenge Stakes last year. The latter didn’t exactly have the ideal passage through while Cable Bay had a pleasant trip. There is nothing between them, but with CABLE BAY now a year older and having the benefit of recent racing he gets the nod.