Timeform Preview – Newmarket Handicap
Much has been made of the current three-year-old crop going into the autumn and Saturday's Newmarket represents a big chance for them to make their mark as we swing into the autumn.
Exceedance currently heads Timeform's three-year-old ratings and the Coolmore winner from the spring returns in a race that has been a happy hunting ground for Coolmore winners in recent times – Weekend Hussler, Brazen Beau and Sunlight have done the double while Shamexpress and Wanted came off beaten runs in the Coolmore to win the Newmarket.
From that set, Exceedance has the ratings to match all bar Weekend Hussler and while winning the Newmarket first-up is often seen as a bridge too far (Redkirk Warrior was the first in 100 years in 2017) he has all the tools required to win the famous handicap.
In the Coolmore he ran down Bivouac who had beaten him home in both the Run To The Rose and Golden Rose, after Exceedance had won their first clash on testing ground in the San Domenico. So the Ledger sits at two apiece.
Clearly there is little between the pair in terms of talent. Bivouac was unconvincing first up in the Oakleigh Plate but with reasonable excuses and this return clash with Exceedance is tipped to be right.
Loving Gaby will be out to replicate last year's winner Sunlight as a three-year-old filly to win the Newmarket on the back of running third in the Lightning.
Sunlight went into the Newmarket rated 117, Loving Gaby goes in rated 116. Alinghi (rated 125) also won the Newmarket as a three-year-old filly in recent times while Crystal Lily and Gold Edition are other comparable fillies to run well in the race, both having finished second.
There is certainly reasons to believe that a good three-year-old filly will run well in the race and Loving Gaby isn't flying the flag alone this year with the 115-rated Libertini also coming into the race with a chance. She was plain first up but we know that she is better than that and ties in with the top colts through her rock solid Coolmore third back in the spring.
While the three-year-olds are strongly fancied to win the race the Lightning winner Gytrash must get a mention having returned with a new peak on a steadily improving profile. He took dead aim at Redzel in that Lightning and didn't miss, winning well and producing a piece of form that cannot be taken lightly. The older group look a little light on this year, with stars Santa Ana Lane, Redzel and Nature Strip opting to skip the Newmarket for the Challenge Stakes, but Gytrash heads them up off a big win and won't hand it to the younger horses without a fight.
Timeform Preview - Randwick Guineas
The scratching of pre post favourite Super Seth has thrown the Guineas wide open with several runners now staking their claim for Group one glory.
While the Hobartville Stakes resulted in an upset result, that race now looks the logical starting point for assessing this afternoon's race.
The Mark Newnham trained Shadow Hero closed off well fresh up in the Hobartville Stakes and is unbeaten second up.
While likely to still be short of his best, he shouldn't be that far off and currently leads the ledger 3:0 against Castelvecchio .
The inside draw allows him to settle closer and if able to follow a similar progression to what he did last time in, he is sure to make his presence felt.
Castelvecchio got left flat-footed at the top of the straight first up, but he too was strong through the line and is much better suited second up, out to the mile.
The wet track also brings them back to him, if it was firm, he would probably struggle to pick them up.
In the same camp as Shadow Hero, he will be better over further, but did enough first up to suggest he can feature in the finish.
Of the rest it's hard to knock the win of the John Sargent trained Brandenburg .
It's never easy to win when forced to sit outside the lead and suspect he does have further improvement to come.
Drawn wide again, but should press forward and no reason to think he won't measure up.
The big SP (40-1) out of the Hobartville is the main concern, however given he is only lightly raced, the market can tend to undersell those runners.
The short priced Hobartville Stakes third placed Microphone is deserving of another chance.
James Cummings has elected for a gear change removing the blinkers in favour of winkers which should enable the colt to settle better today.
While he left punters short changed at Rosehill, Microphone is deserving of another chance, especially as Cummings now believes the colt will be better suited over longer distances.
Already a group one winner at two of the ATC Sires Produce Stakes, Microphone could easily get to silly odds and should not be taken lightly.
Timeform Preview - Canterbury Stakes
The well bred Standout aims to secure his career at stud when a warm favourite in this Saturday's Group 1 Canterbury Stakes.
The full-brother to Golden Slipper winner Overreach, Standout couldn't have been more impressive fresh when dominant winning the Expressway Stakes.
Since kept fresh (35 days), he has trialled like a bomb and this doesn't appear any harder to what he faced first up.
Unseen on a wet track is the obvious query, but he continues to raise the bar with each start and if able to continue that trend, he should prove very hard to beat.
The James Cummings trained Savatiano was marked up to her peak first up and has to be kept safe on Saturday.
A winner of three of her last four starts, she is racing in career best form and while she probably lacks the upside Standout, it was hard not to be impressed by her win in the Millie Fox.
Should get into a stalking position from the inside draw and is unbeaten (2/2) with James McDonald aboard.
Stablemate Alizee was no match for Standout in the Expressway, but showed sharp improvement when winning the Apollo Stakes last start and appears well set up, dropping back in trip.
Hard to suggest Dreamforce gave her form a push last weekend, but you still have to respect her class.