Key questions as Godolphin duo bid to state Melbourne Cup case in Geoffrey Freer
Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Geoffrey Freer Stakes (Group 3) | 3yo+ | 1m5½f | ITV4/RUK
The middle-distance feature has turned into something of a trial for the Melbourne Cup in recent years and Charlie Appleby has two to test their Aussie credentials, headed by the prolific Hamada.
The four-year-old is a 20-1 chance for the 'race that stops a nation' at Flemington in November and is joined here by his stablemate Walton Street, who is available at twice those odds.
Hamada's handicap mark has gone up 20lb from the 87 he started off with on the all-weather at Wolverhampton in April and he heads to Berkshire on a five-timer and tackling Group company for the first time.
The son of Cape Cross, who has racked up victories at Pontefract, Wolverhampton, York and Newmarket, looked better than ever when stepping up to 1m6f on the July course last month.
If he is to make the plane to Australia, Hamada will have to win or run well in this to get a high enough rating to go, a remark that also applies to Walton Street, who has been working nicely at home.
Appleby said: "Both horses have had the Melbourne Cup on their radar for some time. In order to raise their profile they need to win or run well to get their weights up.
"Both are in good shape and did a nice bit of work on the Limekilns last weekend. It looks a competitive race but it will tell us where we stand regarding future plans."
Young guns again?
Defoe broke the dominance of the senior brigade in this a year ago and there is similar confidence behind Raymond Tusk after his win in the Listed Glasgow Stakes last time.
Richard Hannon does not have many runners in this race but holds the three-year-old in such high regard that he ran him in the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last month.
Although he beat only one home behind Roaring Lion that day, Raymond Tusk was not disgraced and was subsequently most impressive when beating the consistent Austrian School at Hamilton.
Tim Palin, racing manager to owners Middleham Park Racing, said: "It's no secret that Richard Hannon thinks Raymond Tusk is the best horse he's had for four or five years.
"He was most impressive in the Glasgow Stakes and if he keeps on improving he could be a St Leger horse. He gets the 9lb weight for age and we think he goes there with a favourite's chance."
Also running for the Classic generation is Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Perfect Clarity.
Trainer Clive Cox said: "She won the Oaks Trial well but it was then too soft for her at Epsom. She ran better at Royal Ascot and has had a break since so she's fresher than most. If she gets the trip she should run well."
Algometer is out to extend his unbeaten run at Newbury to three after winning his maiden as a juvenile in 2015 and then landing the Group 3 Arc Trial a year later.
The David Simcock-trained grey is into what is usually his most productive half of the season with rain around and ran a cracker when just touched off by Melbourne-bound Marmelo in a Group 2 in France last time.
Simcock said: "Algometer looks to have Hamada to beat but will run his usual game race and we know that the ground and track will suit him."
Haggas hope also on the plane?
Algometer's Newmarket counterpart Dal Harraild is also still a possible for the Melbourne Cup, especially if he were to register his first win on turf in more than a year.
The five-year-old, trained by William Haggas, is dropped to a more realistic level after his fourth behind Stradivarius in the Group 1 Goodwood Cup last time.
Haggas said: "Dal Harraild is in lots of races and we'll know more after this. He should run well but he wouldn't want the ground too soft."
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