Since he joined Ian Williams from France at the start of the year, Walhaan (3.35) has failed to find the winner’s enclosure but has suggested more than once that there’s a big day in him. It may come in Saturday’s running of the Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket, part of a high-quality afternoon’s action on ITV4.
A major eye-catcher when second at Ascot in July, Walhaan again fared well there three weeks ago and the extra furlong now gives him every chance to turn the form around with Tempus. While that rival is the likely favourite, Walhaan looks value at 20-1 or bigger.
1.50 Newmarket “He showed a lot of courage” was the high praise New Mandate won from Frankie Dettori when prevailing by a narrow margin in the Flying Scotsman a fortnight ago. He seems sure to appreciate this extra furlong and with the Italian up once more is narrowly preferred to Cobh, whose only previous defeat was inflicted by the classy Chindit.
2.05 Haydock Williams has another interesting runner here in Mustarrid, who came good on soft ground last autumn and is back down to a rating just 2lb higher than for that win. This could prove a weak race for the grade but he certainly needs to leave behind a couple of his efforts this summer.
2.25 Newmarket The Cheveley Park may fall to the third different Irish trainer in as many years, since Ken Condon has a fine chance through Miss Amulet. She hit the line strongly in the Lowther, her first attempt at this distance, and holds Sacred and Umm Kulthum on that form. Alcohol Free looks a live danger.
2.40 Haydock Much happier with some cut in the ground, Count D’Orsay got back to winning ways here three weeks ago and can hold Came From The Dark again despite a slight shift in the weights. A splash of overnight rain would be welcome.
3.00 Newmarket Lucky Vega is already a Group One winner, and an impressive one at that, and his subsequent defeat is easily explained by traffic problems. So it goes against the grain to oppose him with a horse untried above Listed level, but everything about Method says he belongs in this company. His stablemates are running well and he has Dettori in the saddle for the first time.
3.15 Curragh Incredibly, Aidan O’Brien is poised to win the Beresford Stakes for the 20th time, and the 10th time in a row. His High Definition is a brother to Innisfree, winner of the race a year ago, and should know a lot more than when overcoming greenness to score on his debut last month.
New NTF chief: racing could lose 10% of trainers
Ralph Beckett, who will take over as the president of the National Trainers’ Federation on 1 January, said on Friday that he believes 10% of the country’s 500 trainers could go out of business if racing cannot urgently agree a plan for the sport’s funding, following the news that spectators will remain barred from Britain’s tracks for at least the next six months.
Plunging temperatures and a gale-force wind added to the autumnal bleakness of the Rowley Mile on Friday afternoon, and Beckett’s view of one possible future for racing was equally stark.
“I think it’s going to be tough for trainers,” he said in an interview with ITV Racing. “There are 500 members of the NTF and I can see us losing 10% of those members. I hope that doesn’t happen, obviously, and the NTF will be working hard to ensure that it doesn’t, but it’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure.”
Beckett has long been highly active in racing politics, and is understood to have been involved in recent informal discussions between the sport’s Horsemen’s Group – representing owners, trainers and jockeys and stable staff – and senior figures from Britain’s racecourses on potential reforms to the Levy system.
While these discussions initially seemed to have taken place behind the back of the British Horseracing Authority, Beckett said on Friday that “there is no truth that the BHA is not party to anything”, and that the authority will need to be on board for the sport to move forward, ideally before the end of the year. Greg Wood at Newmarket