The London Gold Cup on Lockinge Day at Newbury has produced some excellent winners in the past.
Group 1 winner Defoe, Group 2 winners Communique and Headman and easy Listed scorer Bay Bridge have taken this race in the last few years.
There should be at least one more proverbial ‘Group horse in a handicap’ this time around and it’s our job to try and find it.
Having just his fourth racecourse start is Charlie Hills’s Inverness.
What stands out about this horse is that not only was he sixth to Coroebus on debut, albeit beaten 11 lengths, but also that he beat Educator on his second start off level weights.
Educator represents very strong form. A winner after meeting Inverness, he won a handicap at the Craven Meeting at Newmarket in April which is so important in the context of this race.
He is now rated 90, so while we expect more of Inverness his own current mark of 89 perhaps doesn’t make him as well handicapped as hoped.
In the aforementioned handicap at Newmarket, Israr was a strong third. Slowly away out of the gates, John & Thady Gosden’s Muhaarar colt also got unbalanced going into the Dip but stuck on nicely for a 2-length third.
That was a good run, but he’ll be better on this course. He will also have learned plenty during what was only his third start and plenty more is expected now of a horse who has been left on a mark of 89 by the assessors.
He was a good debut winner, the soft ground beat him in a hot enough race next time and he was good overall last time out.
If there is a Listed or Group horse in the race who is well handicapped, then it is him.
Mr Big Stuff
Hollie Doyle is on board Mr Big Stuff for the second time and the colt’s form behind Al Qareem is solid.
Al Qareem himself is fairly well fancied in York’s 4.10 on Friday so it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on, and while this horse is going the right way, he may not have very much in hand at the weights as a four-race maiden who has been raised in the handicap for being beaten.
A little overpriced perhaps is Red Vineyard.
A winner on debut, he was defeated by the soft ground on his second start before turning over Al Qareem last time and it could be that but for rain, he’d have been coming into this race unbeaten.
His victory last time was in a handicap and he’s been put up 5lbs by the assessor for a narrow win, but he’s going the right way and is coming from a low base ratings-wise.
Surrey Mist has won his last two races, each of them on the all-weather. I don’t see that as any kind of negative in itself of course but it does present one dilemma.
He only ran to a mark of around 60 on his debut on turf. He then ran to a mark of around 75 when winning at Lingfield, before being given 85 for his success at Kempton.
Is it that he is simply improving in lumps, which makes him very interesting in this race, or was he so bad first time up because he isn’t the same on the grass? We’ll only know when he runs.
Having had a pleasing pipe-opener Wineglass Bay should be sufficiently fit and ready for this test.
As with all runners in this field he is going the right way, but arguably not fast enough to perhaps justify backing him having gone up another 2lbs despite a half-length defeat when a short-priced favourite at Goodwood.
If he carries on his impressive trajectory on the turf then Surrey Mist is a most interesting runner. As a backer you’d be taking a chance on him being good enough on this surface to run to a mark into the low 90’s, which he’ll need to do.
Red Vineyard is improving for sure and he represents a strong form line containing Al Qareem and the likes, so he has a good each-way chance.
This race though is so often won by a three-year-old heading for Pattern company. Off a mark of 89, which would have been bigger had he enjoyed himself more at Newmarket, ISRAR is the one with that potential star quality and he can land the money.