Blue Point and Mehmas rematch
View from connections ahead of the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
Mehmas and Blue Point take each other on for a second time
Blue Point and Mehmas engage in a fascinating rematch for the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
The pair first locked horns in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood in late July, at which stage Mehmas had already tasted big-race success in the July Stakes, having previously chased home star juvenile Caravaggio at Royal Ascot, whereas Blue Point had won minor events at Nottingham and Doncaster.
That experience advantage showed on the Sussex Downs as Mehmas knuckled down in trademark fashion to see off the slightly wayward but promising Blue Point by a neck.
Plenty of water has passed under the bridge since, however, with Blue Point raising his game to run out an impressive winner of the Gimcrack at York, and trainer Charlie Appleby is hopeful his charge can turn the tables on Mehmas and clinch Group One glory.
"He was asked to race for the first time at Goodwood and he learnt a lot for the whole experience," said the Godolphin handler.
"It was a big learning day and he came out of that race perfectly well – both mentally and physically, you could see the difference.
"He was a different horse at York. Around the parade ring at Goodwood he just got a little bit wound up, but he was the ultimate professional at York.
"It was the first time since his maiden win that we were able to tuck him in a little bit and take a lead and he showed us what he is capable of.
"If he turns up in the same condition as he did at York, he is the horse that they have got to beat."
"We've beaten the Godolphin horse before. The market says he will reverse the form, but we think Mehmas has improved since Goodwood as well and I suppose it's a question of which horse has improved the most."
Harry Herbert on Mehmas
Following his Goodwood triumph, the Richard Hannon-trained Mehmas was stepped up to seven furlongs for the first time in the National Stakes at the Curragh and while he ultimately came up a little short against the exciting Churchill, he continued his admirable record of having never finished out of the first two places.
Shortly after his Irish effort, it was announced the likeable colt would be retired to stud at the end of the season and connections are keeping their fingers crossed he can go out on a high.
Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Al Shaqab Racing, said: "It was worth a shot over seven furlongs in Ireland, it didn't come off, but he still ran a hell of a good race.
"Frankie (Dettori) was kind on him when it became obvious he wasn't going to win and we're looking forward to running back over his best distance.
"We've beaten the Godolphin horse before. The market says he will reverse the form, but we think Mehmas has improved since Goodwood as well. It will be a fascinating contest and I suppose it's a question of which horse has improved the most.
"Mehmas came back from Ireland very well and seems in very good form. He's danced every dance this season and hasn't done too much wrong. He's a fabulous horse and a tough competitor, with a fantastic will to win."
On Mehmas' imminent retirement, Herbert added: "It's a commercial world. He's one of those very special horses who thrives on racing and he's so tough and sound. He's been a fantastic standard-bearer for Al Shaqab this season.
"We'll all be thrilled if we can nail a Group One on what will probably be his last race."
Mokarris is an interesting contender for trainer Simon Crisford and owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
After disappointing in the Coventry Stakes, the American-bred juvenile bounced back in some style to win a Listed race at Newbury before beating all bar Blue Point in the Gimcrack.
The owner's racing manager, Angus Gold, said: "He was due to run in the Mill Reef at Newbury last Saturday before the ground went against him, but Simon was very happy with him leading up to that.
"I think he's pretty smart when the ground is quick. Certainly he's the fastest of our two-year-olds in terms of ability to quicken.
"Whether he's good enough to beat the favourite, only time will tell."
There has been plenty of talk about the William Haggas-trained Mubtasim and he looked every inch a top-class prospect after winning his first two starts at Yarmouth and Haydock.
He inexplicably flopped in the Gimcrack, but showed his true colours when winning a valuable sales race at Doncaster little over a fortnight ago.
"I was very pleased with Mubtasim's win at Doncaster and he's in good shape," said Haggas.
"I have no idea what went wrong in the Gimcrack – he was on nothing like the form of his other three starts. Sometimes horses can just run badly. But he came back to form with a bang at Doncaster and I am not going to dwell on it.
"The Middle Park is a race everyone wants to win and we should have fast ground, which will be ideal for Mubtasim. My concern on Saturday is the track – I am not convinced that he will be suited by the Rowley Mile's undulations."
Aidan O'Brien is double-handed in his bid for a record fifth win in the race.
Intelligence Cross was placed behind Mehmas at Newmarket and Goodwood before winning the Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh, but Ryan Moore has seemingly opted to ride stable companion Peace Envoy, who was just a length behind brilliant American filly Lady Aurelia in the Prix Morny at Deauville last month.
Medicine Jack, trained by Ger Lyons, also crosses the Irish Sea.
Saeed bin Suroor's Silver Line, Mark Johnston's The Last Lion and Koropick from Hugo Palmer's yard complete the line-up.
Latest Each Way Lucky 15 Tip
|Date||Time / Course||Silk||Selection||Price|
|No Each Way Lucky 15 Tips today please check back tomorrow.|