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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

A betting highlight of the year and star juveniles combine for super Saturday

Tricky puzzle: punters will attempt to find the winner of the 35-runner Cambridgeshire on Saturday
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In a nutshell

Newmarket stages the final day of the Cambridgeshire Festival with 35 runners eyeing success in the prestigious handicap, but Saturday is as much about the star juveniles with two Group 1 prizes on offer on the Rowley Mile.

The current two-year-old crop have been outstanding this term and a few more star names could emerge on a super Saturday featuring a strong renewal of the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes and a similarly outstanding Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes. Elsewhere, plenty of Classic hopefuls are out to stamp their class on the Group 2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes.

If picking the winner of the Group 1 races seems all too easy, then try finding the winner of the 35-runner bet365 Cambridgeshire. With only one winning favourite in ten years – and 50-1, 40-1 and 25-1 shock victors in recent years – history suggests it will not be straightforward.

One man who won't be at Newmarket is Ryan Moore, who heads to America to partner Mendelssohn at Belmont Park, New York. Also in action in the US is the popular Jamie Osborne-trained Toast Of New York, who features in the Group 3 Lukas Classic.

Sovereign to rule over juvenile division?

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Ten Sovereigns has looked the latest star from Ballydoyle in two dazzling victories and his huge reputation is put to the test in the weekend's juvenile feature, the Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes.

The son of No Nay Never is third favourite for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas and is as short as 6-1 for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, so this Group 1 test will be watched closely by the ante-post enthusiasts.

Ten Sovereigns: put his reputation on the in the weekend's juvenile feature, the Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes
A third successive win is far from a certainty for the Irish challenger though, with York winner Emaraaty Ana and Simon Crisford's unbeaten Jash in the mix for the 6f contest.

The Cheveley Park Stakes is just as exciting with top fillies Pretty Pollyanna and Signora Cabello renewing their rivalry. Four of the 11 runners travel from Ireland, with O'Brien's assault spearheaded by Fairyland.

Classic clues on show in Royal Lodge

Newmarket's Qipco Future Champions meeting, which could point the way to the Classic stars of next season, may not be until next month, but anyone looking for clues would be well advised to pay close attention to the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes given its recent roll of honour.

Roaring Lion, one of the stars of 2018, won last year's Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket
None other than the legendary Frankel won the Group 2 in 2010, while last year's winner Roaring Lion has enjoyed a superb season at three with a trio of Group 1 victories in the Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International and most recently the Irish Champion Stakes.

While the Group 1 juvenile highlights of the card, the Cheveley Park and Middle Park, are staged over six furlongs, the Royal Lodge is staged over the course and distance for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, and is a potentially useful pointer for the first Classic of next season.

This year's race looks up to scratch, with the unbeaten Beatboxer representing Roaring Lion's trainer John Gosden.

Chesham winner Arthur Kitt and the exciting Kadar, who made a winning debut at Haydock this month, are other potential star turns.

O'Brien seeks historic British and Irish double

Kenya will break new ground for Aidan O'Brian when he bids to complete the Irish Cambridgeshire-bet365 Cambridgeshire double.

No horse has achieved the feat and, what's more, O'Brien has never had a runner in the big Newmarket handicap.

A Group 3 winner last season, Kenya won the Irish version by three and a half lengths at the Curragh four weeks ago before finishing second to stablemate I Can Fly in the Group 2 Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend.

Of Seamie Heffernan's mount, O'Brien said: "It's going to be something new for us having a runner in the Cambridgeshire but Kenya came out of his Leopardstown run in good form and we're happy with him."

Five Irish-trained horses have won the race and Kenya will be attempting to become the first to succeed since She's Our Mare scored for Tony Martin in 1999.

Haydock regular chasing more sprint glory

A sprinter such as Confessional is worth his weight in gold and the veteran would be an extremely popular winner of Haydock's £50,000 Smarkets Handicap (3.15), one of two races at the track on ITV4 with Newmarket.

Seven days after finishing third in the Ayr Silver Cup, the Tim Easterby-trained 11-year-old is turned out again to make his 13th start of the season – and 131st of his career – in another valuable big-field sprint handicap.

A winner at Chester prior to Ayr and second in an optional claimer at Haydock the time before that, Confessional remains in fine form despite his advancing years.

"He has been a fantastic horse. He's in great form and will love the ground and track," said Easterby, who saddles three in the race.

Confessional: Easterby-trained sprinter makes his 131st appearance at Haydock on Saturday
"Copper Knight ran a good race at Beverley this week and we're very happy with him. Bossipop is in good order and has a nice weight."

In the other televised contest, the Smarkets Betting Exchange Handicap (2.05), Mitchum Swagger makes his first start since finishing third behind Addeybb and Lord Glitters in the Lincoln on his stable debut for Ralph Beckett.

He has strong form at the course, will appreciate any give underfoot and it looks significant connections have opted to come here rather than take up his entry in the Cambridgeshire. 

Williams in wicked form

Everyone has a friend just like Ian Williams. Somewhat quiet during the week, but on a Saturday afternoon you can't stop hearing about him.

Ian Williams: has enjoyed two excellent Saturdays

The Midlands yard have enjoyed winners at four different tracks on the last two Saturdays, operating at a 30 per cent strike-rate over the last two weeks.

With runners heading to Chester, Market Rasen, Newmarket, Haydock and Chelmsford, his feat could be repeated for a third week.

Juicy Market Rasen fare

The jumps season is warming up and Market Rasen's seven-race card is a bit of a treat. The Listed Prelude Handicap Hurdle (4.00) over two miles is the feature, but a few smart young prospects are on show in the Just Jane Juvenile Hurdle (2.15).

Simon Munir and Isaac Souede's smart hurdler We Have A Dream missed out on a tilt at the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham but they appear to have another talented juvenile hurdler in the form of Alan King's Cracker Factory.

Unbeaten in three efforts over obstacles, by a combined distance of 54 lengths, he seeks a fourth victory in the extended 2m contest.

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Everyone has a friend just like Ian Williams. Somewhat quiet during the week, but on a Saturday afternoon you can't stop hearing about him
E.W. Terms
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