_Harry Bentley gives his opinion on Defoe's chances at Newbury, having ridden the Hungerford Stakes favourite twice, delivers his insight to his Saturday rides and offers his opinion on the non-runners debate. _
One of the best horses on show this weekend will be Defoe, who I have ridden a couple of times and who is the favourite for Newbury’s big race on Saturday.
He steps up in trip from his 11-furlong victory over subsequent winner Frankuus at Haydock to the 1m5f61y of the Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes.
I have no doubt the step up in trip will suit him. He is a very relaxed horse and will not pull and is very straightforward.
I have long thought he was a good horse and, before I rode him twice last month, he and Andrea Atzeni beat me in the London Gold Cup at Newbury. I think he will definitely stay and although we will not know if he is up to St Leger standard I do think he merits a place in the final Classic of the season.
I’m not at Newbury on Saturday, however, and have six rides at Newmarket, where Victory Angel is one of my best.
The son of Acclamation takes his chance in the Randox Health Handicap Stakes, having won very well at Yarmouth. He won by two and a half lengths but has gone up 9lbs.
He was ridden prominently last time by Silvestre De Sousa, but I’ll have to see what connections say before making any firm decisions as to race tactics. Michael Bell’s Merlin looks a significant danger and won well by making all at Haydock. He is a consistent sort, and has won three of his last four. Tommy Taylor is also one to consider as he did not get a run at all last time at Newmarket.
The Randox Health Grey Horse Handicap is a great sight for racegoers to see. I’m on Syrian Pearl, who races off a mark of 79 having won previously off that mark and as high as 82. She has been below par for her last four runs, but that means she is now on a competitive mark.
Cyrus Dallin is another who will need to call on previous form as he was last at Chelmsford a few weeks ago. That was over a mile, and although he won his maiden over a mile I think this drop down to seven furlongs for the Randox Food Handicap is a positive. He was a decent winner at Goodwood in June, and judged on that form he could go well.
Jacob Cats looks in the grip of the handicapper in the randoxhealth.com Handicap. He made little impression when last at the Shergar Cup last weekend when he was slowly away, so it is interesting he is turned out again so quickly.
He won in the spring on the All-Weather, but hasn’t backed that up on turf.
My other ride is Knight Music, who has been off the track for 351 days. He has won twice but may need the run in the Randox Handicap.
Non-runners: I see the British Horseracing Authority have brought in measures to deal with the issue of non-runners.
The main point in all of this is that going descriptions need to be accurate, and in my experience I think they vary. I find some courses describe the ground better that it really is and a few of them do not react quickly enough. When 20 jockeys come in from a race and tell clerks that the ground is soft, they at least should go and have a look – we can’t all be wrong!