World-class Spencer key to Hamza run
17 April 2014
There was some interesting action at Newmarket on Wednesday, albeit we probably did not witness a future Guineas or Derby winner.
The most impressive victor on the day was True Story in the Fielden Stakes. He beat Obliterator by seven lengths and afterwards was being talked about as a strong candidate for the Derby.
He may yet become a leading contender but he will have to show much less exuberance in the early stages of his races if he is going to stay 12 furlongs.
He was very keen and he would have no chance of staying a stiff 12 furlongs if he were to be so keen at Epsom.
His pedigree is a stout one, being by Manduro out of a Darshaan mare and on breeding he has every chance of staying further if he learns to settle.
Two riding performances of note yesterday. Firstly the much-maligned Jamie Spencer, who yet again proved he is world-class when winning on Mind Of Madness.
Yes the horse was much the best, but Spencer got the best out of him by spurning a furious early gallop and having the nerve to wait until the final furlong before making his move. Many other jockeys would have been off in pursuit of the runaway leaders a lot sooner than Spencer, and that would have compromised this useful two-year-old’s chances.
The second performance of note was that of Ryan Moore on Shifting Power in the European Free Handicap.
I think it is fair to say you will struggle to see a stronger ride all year.
Shifting Power looked awkward throughout the race, lugging right and carrying his head high. He was briefly outpaced going into the Dip, but Moore galvanized him in the last 200 yards to get up to win narrowly.
Given the traffic problems that Aeolus suffered Shifting Power was a lucky winner, but there was no luck involved in anything Moore did. He was brilliant on an awkward horse and remains one of the best jockeys in the world.
As to today. I think the Newmarket card is very strong and the Craven Stakes is a cracker. Toormore is rated 11lbs superior to his nearest rival on official ratings.
Ratings are of course just a handicapper’s opinion. A more concrete guide in the form of speed figures (a number that correlates just how fast horses have run and thus what they have achieved) tells us that he is way ahead of his rivals, and he deserves to be odds-on and will probably win. There is little value in his price, though, and perhaps a better play would be to back him for the 2,000 Guineas at 7-1 with a view to trading out a portion after a probable impressive win today.
My main bet today will be Hamza, in what's looks to be a below-par Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes.
He comes here in good heart after performing with great credit in Group One company at Meydan on World Cup night last month. He also boasts a decent win here at the Rowley Mile last season. He is a very strong contender and it is a real bonus Spencer is on board.
Angus McNae's Thursday tips: