It has been a long time since I wrote on these pages, but the flat season is an exercise in patience at some point, and at this stage of the season it’s worth looking ahead to the numerous ante-post opportunities through the rest of the flat campaigns, and the chance to get a jump on the layers – or just a good position – presents itself with regularity here. These are a few of the fancies.
1 pt each/way Shine So Bright, Lennox Stakes (9/1 Hills, 888 Sport)
Not much of an ante-post bet with the race just over a week away, but there’s plenty of reason to think he’ll go off a good deal shorter, especially with those in the market around him perhaps doubtful runners.
Hey Gaman ran second The Minstrel Stakes, just ahead of Safe Voyage. Advertise, who was second in the July Cup, is set to head to Deauville for the Maurice de Gheest. Dream Of Deams is also entered, but the Sprint Cup is on the record as being his target.
Shine So Bright was an impressive winner of the Free Handicap before then leading the far side a merry dance in the 2,000 Guineas, not disgracing himself at all when fading to finish sixth. At the time it looked as if there may have been a slight bias to the near side but it’s clear that he ran a big race, improving on his return, and the form of that has held up well amongst the first six.
This drop back to seven ought to suit him and he’s got previous experience around Goodwood, two things which are well in his favour, and it would be a surprise if he went off 9/1 regardless of who turned up. It looms big with three placed and this surely will be connections choice rather than the Sussex.
The biggest threat, if turning up, would be One Master, who was third in in the Queen Anne and then second in the Falmouth behind Veracious, when Oisin Murphy was arguably the difference between victory and defeat.
1 pt each/way Phoenix of Spain, Sussex Stakes (7/1 Hills).
He was a big disappointment at Royal Ascot when strongly fancied for the St James’s Palace, but that run – which did seem too bad to be true – could be explained by the fact that he came back very sore according to Charlie Hills.
On the basis of every other run in his life, including his demolition job in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, he’d have to be considered right up there in the market for a Sussex Stakes which sees the betting dominated by the classic generation. This will be the first meeting of three-year-olds against elders as far as colts are concerned, but from what we’ve seen there’s not much to separate a lot in either crop and Phoenix of Spain certainly should rank amongst the cream of that crop, if on form.
1 pt each/way Dream Of Dreams, Sprint Cup (14/1 general)
He was a blowout in the July Cup, but that is surely not his best form and the Diamond Jubilee looked a strong race this season. It is not a given that all of the three-year-olds, who raced predominately up the middle, will turn up here and even then, it would be a surprise if the Diamond Jubilee second went off 14/1.
1 pt each/way Broome, St Leger (12/1 general)
A disappointment at the Curragh, but a horse who has always shaped as if a Leger trip would be his bag. It’s worth noting that Aidan O’Brien has had the last two winners, and both of them, Kew Gardens and Capri, were unplaced in either the British or Irish Derby. This would look a more likely target for him than Anthony Van Dyck whilst I would want to see Sovereign run again after that Irish Derby to confirm the form.
2 pts each/way Crystal Ocean, Arc (10/1 general)
If she gets there – and god willing she will – it will be very hard to get Enable beat in the Arc. And I am not wishing to do so. She is just 6/4, however, and even Sea The Stars went off as big as 4/6, and she can only fill one of the three ante-post places.
Crystal Ocean was well beaten by Enable last year in a sign that Enable was going to hit the high notes once again, but in hindsight he ran well in that Kempton defeat, and also when second to Cracksman in the Champion Stakes. That took place in conditions perfectly suited for Cracksman, and this year he hasn’t looked back, winning the Gordon Richards and Aston Park Stakes easily before he ground out victory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes over Magical. That was a very strong renewal – albeit one that played to his strengths with the soft ground at Ascot – but the gap between the first two and Waldgeist was impressive (three and a quarter lengths) and Magical was runner up in a strong Eclipse too afterwards.
We don’t know about the strength of the Classic generation just yet, but Crystal Ocean’s efforts would take a good deal of beating if he turned up at peak form and it would be a surprise, regardless of his performance in the King George, if he did not head to Paris.