Newbury hosts a cracking card on Saturday, headlined by the Lockinge Stakes. There are also three listed contests on the seven race menu but it is to the top handicap of the day to which we turn for our best bet. The Al Zubarah London Gold Cup has been won by some talented individuals in recent years. Cannock Chase came home in front for Sir Michael Stoute last year whilst subsequent multiple Group 1 winner Al Kazeem took the prize in 2011. The big yards are out in force again this year for what looks an excellent renewal.
Newmarket handler Charlie Appleby has enjoyed a pretty spectacular time of things so far in 2015. Maintaining a strike rate of 33% across all races is a pretty phenomenal achievement at this stage of the year. We are looking to support him wherever we can and this Class 2 handicap seems to provide an ideal opportunity. In races of this type over the past five seasons, Appleby is showing a 26% strike rate which translates to a level stakes profit of 14.84 points. These are the type of races he does best in.
His representative here is the New Approach colt Space Age and we expect him to go very close indeed to landing this good prize. Initially appearing a somewhat awkward customer on his first two starts as a two year old, the penny finally seemed to drop on the final start of his juvenile campaign. Making all in a Class 5 maiden may not leap out as Class Two handicap winning form but we were greatly impressed by the manner in which he stayed on over that seven and a half furlong trip. Positive tactics were adopted for the first time that day and he looked better the further he went, having the race put to bed a long way from home. He is up in trip here but if anything that may bring about further improvement. Derby winning sire New Approach recorded five Group One successes in all including two at this trip. There is also promise from his dam Historian who won over this distance at Listed level. We can’t believe an opening mark of 85 represents the ceiling of Space Age’s ability. On his first start as a three year old here he has too much in his favour not to be backed.
The final seal of approval for the selection comes in the form of his jockey Shane Gray. The three pound claim of this talented apprentice is proving to be a valuable weapon for the Appleby yard. The Appleby-Gray partnership is currently showing an impressive 38% strike rate across all races. They can get another one on the board here in this big Saturday contest.
The selections half-brother Dissolution looks a major threat from the Sir Michael Stout yard whilst Dance On Fire can be expected to go well for Andrew Balding now he is back in handicap company.
BY PAUL HARISSON