Alex Hammond: Mojito time!
Sky Sports News' Alex Hammond looks back on the recent action and ahead to this weekend's feature races in her latest blog.
Connections of Enable have yet to confirm whether the brilliant Arc winner will stay in training but are you tempted about Sky Bet's 3/1 that she will win next season's Arc too?
I'm not keen to back her at this stage as we don't know what the plan is and the more I think about it, the more I expect her to be retired to the breeding paddocks. I hope I'm wrong, but what is there left to prove? She is electrifying and keeps on producing the goods time and again. John Gosden said in the immediate aftermath of the race that he would love to come back and win the Arc again when it returns to Longchamp, but it's not his decision to make. No doubt he will be leaning on Khalid Abdullah and his racing manager Lord Grimthorpe, but there will already be a plan in place with potential suitors and the Prince will no doubt be excited to see the family line continue. Having said that, Treve won back to back Arcs and it would be great to see her emulate Criquette Head-Maareq's great mare. I remember being at Ascot to see Frankel win the Champion Stakes and those lucky enough to be at Chantilly will be equally as struck by her brilliance. Horses of that calibre don't come along very often, so Khalid Abdullah must be a very lucky man.
Clemmie did the business for you in the Cheveley Park Stakes on Saturday, how did you rate her run and those of the winners of the weekend's other big juvenile races?
Yes, I was delighted to see her win again and she is now a leading contender for next year's 1000 Guineas. Sky Bet have her as their 3/1 clear favourite for the classic and that seems fair given what she has shown us so far. She is also bred in the purple, being a full sister to Churchill and is with the right trainer in Aidan O'Brien. We may well see her again before the end of the year as the Breeders' Cup was mentioned by O'Brien after her Newmarket win.
Well, Elarqam won the Tattersalls Stakes on Thursday of Newmarket's Cambridgeshire meeting and he is one I like for next season if he gets through the winter without a hitch. He is another blue blood, being by Frankel out of superstar (although not brilliantly put together) filly Attraction. He is trained, like his dam was, by Mark Johnston, so Mark will relish the opportunity to try and win a Guineas with this lad too. You may remember Attraction, she won 10 of her 15 races including the English and Irish 1000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes, Sun Chariot and Matron Stakes at the highest level. She was exceptional, but she ran about as stylishly as me; albeit much faster! This must be the nicest of her foals as he cost the most; 1,600,000 guineas as a yearling at the Tattersalls October Sale, the same sale that is taking place in Newmarket again this week. There is much to like about Elarqam with next year in mind and he will stay beyond a mile too. In the ante post market he is 14/1 for the 2000 Guineas and 25/1 for the Derby with Sky Bet.
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Attention is starting to turn to the jumps, can you give us a life changing ante-post multiple for the new National Hunt season please?
Ok, I've stopped laughing now and given this serious consideration! I'm not sure if this will be life changing, maybe the boys at Sky Bet can price it up? I'm going with Our Duke to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, The Worlds End to win the Stayers Hurdle and Defi Du Seuil to win the Champion Hurdle. Don't hold it against me if I change my mind before next March! Our Duke is a horse I love and he could give Jessie Harrington back to back wins in the Cheltenham Blue Riband. It's so hard for horses to come back and win it again, so that puts me off this horse's stablemate, but I still think it can go to the stable with last season's Irish Grand National winner. He's more than just a galloper, he has class and will still only be an 8 year old next spring.
The Worlds End is trained by Tom George and did well to put a heavy fall in the Albert Bartlett behind him to win the Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree. He was going well at Cheltenham when he departed and it is testament to his temperament that he could come back and win at Aintree a few weeks later. One of the risks we take with backing him for the World Hurdle is the chance that he could switch to chasing, but George said he was the type of horse he was keen to keep over hurdles next season. Let's hope he hasn't changed his mind in the interim. This is what his trainer said on his website at the end of last season:He has all the credentials to make a top class chaser but we still feel there is plenty of improvement left in him over hurdles. He has been roughed off to enjoy a summer on the Slad Valley and looks a very exciting prospect for the World Hurdle next season.
Finally, Philip Hobbs had a magnificent season with Defi Du Seuil as a juvenile hurdler with 7 runs unbeaten since joining the Somerset handler from France, culminating with a grade 1 double at Cheltenham (Triumph) and Aintree (4yo Hurdle). He jumps really well and there was a suggestion he could be an Arkle horse, but I hope they stick with the smaller obstacles for this horse who will only be 5 years old come next spring.
Closer to hand there's more top class racing this weekend; has anything caught your eye at Newmarket?
The Sun Chariot is the feature at Newmarket on Saturday and I think it could be worth chancing Roly Poly to bounce back from her defeat behind stablemates Hydrangea and Winter in the Matron Stakes last time out. She has plenty of class with 2 group 1 wins to her name already and as a 3 year old gets a few pounds off ante post favourite Persuasive, who is 12 months older. At 7/2 she is appealing to me in this mile contest.
At Ascot, the Challenge Cup is another devilishly difficult handicap but where should we be looking for the winner………?
It has to be Mojito for me. I've backed the William Haggas horse on each of his last three starts and I'm not about to abandon him now. It's not hugely original I'm afraid as he's Sky Bet's 6/1 favourite to win this tricky mile handicap, but I'd take a 6/1 winner any day. He handled the step back up to a mile well at York last time out and I imagine this could well be his last start in handicap company as he looks capable of stepping up to group class. He holds a group entry at Newmarket's Cesarewitch meeting. He's progressing and his trainer has been in tip top form all season and is still operating at an impressive strike rate around 25%.
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