Ante-Post Value – The Bunbury Cup
Saturday’s renewal of the Bunbury Cup is absolutely mind-boggling and trying to make sense of it all is rather difficult! The books are going 8/1 about the field and currently top of that list is Roger Varian’s 4-year-old, Horsted Keynes. He has the profile of a likely winner of this sort of event, as he’s a lightly-raced progressive sort who probably hasn’t shown us his best on the racecourse yet.
The son of Giant’s Causeway arrives here on the back of a cracking effort at Royal Ascot, where he finished three-parts of a length behind Louis The Pious in the Buckingham Palace, and that’s a massively encouraging performance. The amount of ground he made up inside the final couple of furlongs was impressive as well and anyone who backed him could easily claim that he’d have won granted a slightly better sit throughout the race (had been positioned right out the back early on).
He’s all set to run off the same mark here and has obviously solid claims, but that was undoubtedly the day he was fully wound-up for and connections will have to hope that it hasn’t left a mark. The three-week gap between races is tight enough when you consider what a cavalry charge such as the Buckingham Palace would take out of a horse and I’m also in two minds as to whether the July course at Newmarket will be to his liking. It’s hard to know until it’s tackled, of course, and he could love it for all I know, but at the prices I’d rather look elsewhere for an each-way alternative in a race like this. If there are any chinks in his armour regarding such a hard race last time out, they’ll be exposed in this viciously competitive event.
Abseil is next best at around 9’s and is a thoroughly fascinating contender down to a bare 7f for literally the first time in his career (albeit a short one). Sir Michael Soute’s 4-year-old colt was as hot a handicap favourite as you could see at Royal Ascot, going off at 7/2 in the Royal Hunt Cup over a mile. Some would mark his run down as disappointing given that price, with eight place being all he could muster, but the margin between him and the winner was less than 5-lengths and he probably ran to something around his mark. Question marks over how he’ll deal with the drop in trip are there, however, and I’m not sure what effect that’ll have (won a handicap over an extended mile at Epsom, so stays further well). It could be what he’s crying out for (does travel keenly and powerfully) but remains to be answered and, as with the favourite, I’m happy to leave him alone at single-figured prices.
The Buckingham Palace third, David O’Meara’s 4-year-old Watchable, is next up in the market and an interesting sort in his own right. Like the two ahead of him, he’s a lightly-raced sort and the step up to 7f being combined with more patient mid-race tactics seemed to bring about plenty of improvement at Royal Ascot. It’s clear that experience is helping the gelding to come into his own as well and off the same mark as last time, there’s no way I’d be ruling him out here. However, he has been a busy boy having had four outings in the last couple of months and it’s possible that the edge may come off sometime soon. Again, it’s not definitive but another off-putting aspect with one who’s only 10/1. I’ll swerve.
A whole host of others are priced between 12/1 & 14/1. Luca Cumani’s Ayaar produced a career-best when fifth in the Royal Hunt Cup last time out but, for all that he has only ever won over this 7f trip, he’s looking more of a miler since joining up with his new yard and those visual impressions would scare me off. Absolutely So, who was smashed into 4/1 favouritism in the Wokingham, will appeal to many and the step up in trip will help him out. He’s likely to need some rain to show his best, though, and whilst the ground is still riding fast I couldn’t be backing him (keep an eye on the weather!). Ertijaal has something to prove after his 2,000 Guineas run, for all that you could have expected him to run like that, whilst the likes of Hunt Cup winner Field Of Dream and Buckingham Palace winner Louis The Pious look up against it under their 6lb penalties for scoring at the Royal meeting.
Now that we’ve come to the conclusion that all of those are definitely not going to win (I jest!), it’s time to mention something I will back! In fact, there are two that I like and the first is David Brown’s Glen Moss at 16/1. Off a mark of 104, he is no handicap good-thing, but what he is is a solid 5-year-old in the form of his life and an each-way go at him is appealing. He ran really well off this mark in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot, finishing 5-lengths behind the winner in ninth place, that despite having a terrible draw in stall 2. He won the mini-race on his side but it clearly wasn’t the place to be on that day, nor at the whole meeting, and upgrading the performance is something that we have to do. The step back up to 7f won’t bother him at all – in fact it’s a positive – and there should be a big run incoming, assuming that he isn’t drawn away from the main action. Rain won’t bother him either.
Redvers at 25/1 is the other I’ll give an each-way nod towards. On the form of his two runs this season, he wouldn’t have much of a chance but it’s easy to find excuses as to why he was below-par and maybe his recent two-month break from the track may be indicating that all was not well. Either that or he has been held back for this race, in which he was a 2.5-length fifth behind Field Of Dream last term, and having the freshness advantage should serve him well. Sadly, his mark of 97 is no gimme but he’s only 2lbs higher than when winning a valuable handicap at Ascot last September and is a strong-travelling sort who may have more in the locker than we get to see on the track (isn’t the sort to win by far). The long and the short of it, anyway, is that the price is attractive about one who’s capable on his day and in a race as tricky as this one, I’m happy enough to chance him.
Selections for the Bunbury Cup (3:15 Newmarket; Saturday, 12th July):
Glen Moss – each-way at 16/1, available generally.
Redvers – each-way at 25/1, available generally.
Post by James Boyle.
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