Dundalk returns on Friday night and it looks like the Ger Lyons stable could be worth following.
They saddle top-weight Birdcage in the opening Nursery at 5.35. Birdcage concedes weight all round but sets the standard off a rating of 86.
Tommy Stack’s Diamond Fields () carries a similar rating into the Auction Maiden (6.05pm). That should be good enough to win this contest at this time of the year. Zebgrey and The Yellow Bus have bits of form but I’m not looking past Wayne Lordan’s mount.
Lyons looks to have another serious contender in Blood Moon (6.35pm) who has been running in better company this season. Both Well Caught and Aspar are relatively unexposed but this looks like a nice race for Blood Moon to deliver.
Horses for Courses
There’s a couple of very tricky handicaps later on the card and the best advice I can give punters is to look for horses with proven form at the track; especially if they’ve been running on the turf and have dropped a few pounds in the handicap to a previous winning mark. They should be competitive at the all-weather venue.
There’s only four runners in the 8.35pm over 10f and it looks a match between Intisari and Tandem. I fancy Colm Keane’s mount to just shade it.
The finale is tough so I’m having two against the field. Aidan O’Brien saddles the favourite Udogo who has been running consistently to his handicap mark all season while Michael Halford saddles Temasek Star and he won off just a couple of pounds higher over course and distance this time last year .
Cambridgeshire cavalry charge
So many factors come into winning one of these big handicaps. You need luck-in-running, a good draw, being near the pace – there’s loads of different angles. You can win from anywhere but ideally you’d want a lead as the race is ‘on’ from the time the stalls open. You have to get into a decent position and as importantly – you need to hold it.
It’s great to see Ryan Moore back in the saddle after injury and he rides Abseil in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket on Saturday (3.50pm).
Sir Michael Stoute doesn’t persist with horses like this unless he thinks there’s a big day in them – so that’s well worth taking note of.
Abseil can pull hard at times but they’ll go a strong gallop in this and that will help him to settle. He was third to Alfred Hutchinson over 10f in a Listed race so will hit the line strong over 9f.
He could still be ahead of the handicapper and is my selection to win it.
I rode Educate to win this in 2013 and he has dropped back to a winning mark again. A fast-run 9f is ideal for him and if he can bounce back to his best he’d be a player in a race where Paddy is paying the first 5 home.
Irish challenger Portage can go close and any rain that falls at Newmarket will help his cause. He’ll need to stay with them early on and not get out-paced though. A winner of an Ascot handicap, he proved he handles these big-field races when he was second to Hint of a Tint in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh. Any rain will help his cause.
Previous winners have a decent record in the race and none more so than Bronze Angel who’ll become the first horse to win it three times after successes in 2012 and last year. He’s knows how to get the job done – but is on a career-high mark now.