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Schedule – November 2015

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Queen Elizabeth Stakes Preview with Sam Preen

The race suffered a minor blow when it was announced Tuesday morning that the mighty (in my eyes she is) Rizeena won’t be partaking, given the heavy ground on offer. Likely to be a small field, a select handful still stand their ground to tackle the mile mudbath.


Here’s the line up…


Brendan Brackan
Had a busy but fruitless season this year, running nine times,with only a minor Listed win to his name. Was no match for the great Custom Cut at Leopardstown in August, before a disappointing ninth against Free Eagle, when upped to 10 furlongs, again at Leopardstown. Much better when rallying late to chase home Famous Name’s little sister, Big Break, in the Concorde Stakes, over 7 and a half furlongs. Step back up in trip is a plus, but the very heavy ground on offer on his belated Group 1 appearance isn’t.


Captain Cat
Had a fair reason, returning on the all weather to chase home the now retired Winter Derby hero Robin Hoods Bay, and won very well over this trip on AW Finals Day, before picking up a Group 3 at Salisbury, before he was given far too much to do when looking like winning in the Celebration Mile. George Baker was on board for his comfortable success in the Superior Mile at Haydock, but like Brendan Brackan, he was no match for Custom Cut at Goodwood, finishing two and a half lengths behind. Unraced on worse than soft.


Custom Cut
The one who’s scalped most of these – Custom Cut. Had an unreal season for David O’Mears. Since landing a Listed event at Windsor over further, he’s won a further four races over a variety of trips, capping it off with the Shadwell Joel Stakes, beating Captain Cat by two and a half lengths, on his latest start. An amazing feat if he notches a Group 1 this year, and he’s previous form on heavy, from his Irish racing days, winning three times on heavy, and once on soft/heavy.


Lightly raced this season, having picked up a Listed event on his comeback, before a few fair efforts in defeat, before picking up a minor Group 3 at Maisons-laffitte back in July. Flopped when stone last at York, behind Custom Cut, over 9 furlongs. Drops back in trip, which is ideal, but a distant third on his sole run on heavy, way back in 2012.


Easy winner on his debut, and came in for tons of support to land the RP Trophy back in 2012, but has been very disappointing since then. On his comebck last September, after almost a year off, he quickly faced to finish a distance last to Al Kazeem in the Irish Champion Stakes (recorded as nearly 60 lengths behind on RP), before a keeping on third in this last year, on soft. Returned at Leopardstown, when soundly beaten on heavy, by outsider of the lot, Qewy. Bounced back when upped back to 10 furlongs at the Curragh, chasing home Hall Of Mirrors, but failed to follow that up when hopelessly outpaced in Longchamp’s Prix Foy. A shadow of his former self, and very difficult to fancy.


Top Notch Tonto
Became a fan favorite at Beverley, slowly working his way up the rankings, landing a Group 3 at Haydock in September, before a Listed event, then ran the race of his life to chase home Olympic Glory in this last year. Unfortunately, he’s failed to follow that up this season, getting soundly beaten on his first two starts, finishing last of three at Sandown, when upped to 10 furlongs, but showed a hint of promise when a head second in a York handicap back in August, and stayed on well for fourth under Colm o’Donoghue at Leopardstown in a Group 2. Should suit the ground.


Had a light season after chasing home Ocean Tempest in a very grim Lincoln, picking up a Group 2, before chasing home Olympic Glory at Newbury in March. Disappointing behind Toronado in June, and was off until last month, when seen finishing four lengths behind Custom Cut. Good horse on his day who’ll enjoy the conditions, but a huge surprise if he picks this up.


Charm Spirit
Useful sort who outran his 33/1 SP when chasing home Night Of Tunder in the 2000 Guineas, and picked up two Group 1’s, at Chantilly and Longchamp, after a narrow Group 3 success in June. Often doesn’t win by far, but won his Chantilly Group 1 cheekily, before coming out on top in a thrilling duel at Longchamp, on good ground. Soft ground a definite plus, and can maintain his fine record over a mile, and trump Toronado again.


Consistent filly who’s yet to finish out of the frame since a disappointing run in last year’s Nassau. Gallant win in the Atlanta Stakes last August to force a dead heat, and ran far better than her price suggested when chasing home Sky Lantern last September. Fair record when upped to 9 furlongs at Newmarket on her return, and dropped down for a two length victory at Ascot, and trumped Rizeena by two lengths in the Falmouth in July. Flopped behind Esoterique at Deauville, who she previously beat, but landed the Sun Chariot from the front on her last start. Looks capable of dictating the pace in this field, but a few have stronger claims, and this may prove too tough a test after recently winning a fortnight ago.


Night Of Thunder
Surprisingly trumped Kingman in the 2000 guineas, but was unable to repeat that at Ascot in June, when Kingman quickly put the race to bed with his unreal turn of foot, and only beat one home when upped in trip for the Coral-Eclipse in July, and did well when rallying late to close in on Charm Spirit and Toronado at Longchamp last month, finishing half a length behind the pair. Not ran on soft since picking up a Listed event this time last year, but it should play into his lands this year, and interesting to see who’ll come out on top between him, Charm Spirit, and Toronado.


Previous top two year old who won his comeback against the Grey Gatsby, over a mile at Newmarket, back in April, but has been bitterly disappointing since then. Failed to fire in the Guineas, before weakening quickly behind Kingman, and was narrowly beaten by Es Que Love at Goodwood, when dropped in trip. Again disappointed when sent off short priced fav in the Topkapi Trophy, at Veliefendi in Turkey, won by Glory Awaits, with Richard Hughes putting up overweight. Not the same horse he once was, and can be safely ruled out here.


Conclusion: An interesting field which is sure to shorten nearer the day. Custom Cutsteps into Group 1 level, bidding to extend his unreal run, whilst Captain Cat, who was second to Custom Cut last time out, was recently supplemented. Last year’s runner up and Beverley heartthrob Top Notch Tonto is sure to run well on suitable ground, as isIntegral, but the pin lands on Freddie Head’s filly, CHARM SPIRIT.


Bidding for the four timer, he was fifth to Night Of Thunder in the Guineas, but picked up a Group 3 at Chantilly, before landing the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly on very soft, before coming out on top of a thrilling battle at Longchamp, trumpingToronado by a head, with Night Of Thunder in third. She’s a confirmed mud lover who will relish the conditions, and though shorter than I usually fancy, she’s capable of coming out on top.


Though unlikely to happen, stranger things have occurred in the mud – Tullius is my other fancy. Chased home Ocean Tempest in a rain softened Lincoln back in March, before going onto pick up a Group 2 in the mud on his next start. Ran creditably in the Lockinge, before a gallant effort in defeat, when fighting his jockey Jimmy Fortune, in the Queen Anne (won by stablemate Toronado, who misses this race in favour of Santa Anita)and stayed on when fourth at Newmarket when hanging. Has the ground to suit, and providing he stops acting the fool, can run a big race at a big price.


Charm Spirit @ 3/1 (BetVictor)
Tullius @ 10/1 E/W (Hills, Ladbrokes, etc)


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