Whilst much of Saturday’s attention will focus on trying to find the winner of the competitive Cesarewitch Handicap, the day’s card at Newmarket also features top-class Group One action with the latest renewal of the Dewhurst Stakes.
Due to get underway at 15.30pm (BST) on the Saturday racecard, the premier juvenile contest carries a huge winners’ purse, and the race can often serve up a clue to the following season’s Guineas races. Notable winners of the contest include Belardo, Dawn Approach, Frankel, Sir Percy and Rock of Gibraltar since 2000.
A possible field of fourteen runners have been entered for the Group One contest at the five-day stage, including six from Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle yard and headed by ante-post favourite Churchill who comes into the race on the back of four successive wins which include the Group One National Stakes at the Curragh last time out, beating Mehmas.
Churchill heads up the ante-post market for Saturday's Dewhurst at Newmarket.
The Galileo colt is likely to take plenty of beating if turning up for this contest, where he could be joined by the likes of Capri who has won his last three starts which include the Beresford Stakes, and Intelligence Cross who finished fourth in the Middle Park on his last run.
That Irish trio face a strong home guard, spearheaded by the unbeaten South Seas who landed a perfect hat-trick of wins when landing the Group Three Solario Stakes at Sandown, beating Salouen by just over two lengths and looking a very smart performer in the process given he won with something in hand.
Andrew Balding’s charge is likely to mount a bold bid to counter the O’Brien challenge, and with further progress likely to come from the Lope De Vega colt, he can be competitive again; especially given the form of his win last time has been upheld by the runner-up since filling the same spot in a French Group One at Chantilly during Arc weekend.
It was hard not to be impressed by the way Rivet went about his business in despatching the reopposing Thunder Snow when winning the Group Two Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on St Leger day last month, where he was arguably value for more than the official winning margin of a head.
Rivet (pink jacket) could renew Doncaster rivalry with Thunder Snow.
William Haggas’ Fastnet Rock colt had earlier made a telling impression when running out an easy winner over Contrapposto in a competitive York maiden in August, scoring readily, where he seemingly appreciated the additional furlong having perhaps been undone by a slow start and inadequate trip on debut at Ascot in July.
The form of that York success has thrown up several subsequent winners, albeit at lesser levels; and while he arguably needs to take another forward step on the back of his Doncaster win, there is for sure more to come from him.
It could well pay then to side with the Godolphin runner BLUE POINT who despite being turned over last time in the Middle Park Stakes should go close for Charlie Appleby and William Buick.
A three-time winner, which includes a defeat of Mokarris in the Gimcrack at York, he shaped last time here that he may benefit from a stiffer test having got to within a length of the winner despite conceding first run to Mark Johnston’s charge, and where Intelligence Cross finished behind in fourth.
The Shamardal colt was gaining revenge on Mehmas, who had beaten him at Goodwood two starts previously; while that form looks stronger than that of Rivet’s Doncaster run.
His tendency to race keenly is a concern, but he looked ready for a step up in trip last time, and the clearly classy individual could well have more to offer over this longer trip. He is worth another chance to build on the form he showed when easily landing the York showpiece two runs ago, and with ground no issue he should go close.
Gimcrack winner Blue Point can improve for the step up in trip to land Saturday's Dewhurst.
John Gosden’s Frankel colt, Seven Heavens, also puts his unbeaten record on the line, and he has impressed in landing both starts to date which include a defeat of the useful Lockheed on debut at Ascot, and again at Goodwood back in August where he ran out a comfortable six lengths’ winner over Shabeeh.
That form is hard to quantify as it was a match; but he did the job with the minimum of fuss and surely has more in the tank. The form of his debut effort has been bolstered by the good run of Lockheed in the National Stakes behind Churchill, but solely on that run it gives him something to find with the Aidan O’Brien runner, considering he would have learnt precious little from that subsequent two-runner contest.
Dangerous to discount, it is nevertheless perhaps worrisome that John Gosden has yet to win the Dewhurst given the quality of horses that have passed through the gates of Highclere; but while his Frankel charge is worthy of plenty of respect, he arguably needs to improve and could lack the experience needed to win a quality Group One contest at this early stage of his career.
Larchmont Lad sprang something of a surprise when winning the Tattersalls Stakes here in September, beating Whitecliffsofdover in determined fashion.
Richard Hannon’s charge however perhaps benefitted not only by the below-par run of favourite Escobar, but also some scrimmaging that he managed to miss where he raced on the right side of the Aidan O’Brien-trained runner-up who hung left and impeded those on his inside.
The runner-up was beaten into third behind Salouen in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly last weekend, and a line through that run leaves him something to find with Andrew Balding’s unbeaten South Seas, who had Salouen behind when winning the Solario.
Nevertheless, Richard Hannon’s charge is another who remains open to improvement as well as boasting winning course and distance form; and he isn’t discounted for all he needs to take a significant forward step on form.
Larchmont Lad was a last-time winner over course and distance.
Churchill is likely to prove hard to beat on the back of his win in Group One company last time out, and the Galileo colt sets a solid standard if lining up, while stablemate Capri could well miss out this race in favour of a tilt at the Racing Post Trophy.
Both the unbeaten pair of Seven Heavens and South Seas are likely to line up, and both should be competitive; but BLUE POINT
) boasts arguably the strongest form despite being beaten last time out in the Middle Park Stakes here last month.
The Godolphin runner had earlier ran out a comfortable winner of the Gimcrack at York, and he shaped last time as if he may benefit from a step up in trip. While his tendency to race freely has to be a concern over this additional furlong, the extra distance could well unlock further improvement in the Shamardal colt, and with ground no issue he is taken to bounce back from that narrow last-time defeat to confirm the promise of his earlier Gimcrack success.
2016 DEWHURST SELECTION – BLUE POINT