Race Time: 3.25pm Meeting: Newmarket Distance: 6f
Full Race Name: Junction 17 Cars Sprint Trophy (Class 2)
What a tough old handicap to even try and consider at this stage with the younger generation of sprint handicappers looking to make their mark after either mediocre or good careers as juveniles. Some will match what they did as two year olds, some will fall by the wayside, and others will improve for an extra year of maturity, either slightly or spectacularly, but we won’t know until after the race is run. Still, finding the winner is what we do best, and that means starting with the Richard Hannon trained Sugar Lump (9/1) – right down the bottom of the weights for a change. She won her Salisbury maiden with a bit more up her sleeve than the official neck margin implies and ran a decent enough race on her return when sixth of eight at Windsor, but only beaten a little bit less than four lengths at the line.
She, like the majority of the Hannon horses, looked as if she would improve for the run, and if that is the case we can expect a far better showing this afternoon, and with a featherweight all things are possible. Filed Game has been rested by trainer Hughie Morrison since placing fourth behind Ivor’s Rebel at Lingfield on the polytrack but ought to be more at home back on the turf this afternoon based on his win at Catterick, though whether he gets the sixth furlong is an open question. On form he doesn’t, on breeding he may, and losing hard earned money is not the way we wish to find out, though we will be making notes for future referenced just in case!
Properus (11/4) also catches the eye if William Haggas lets him take his chance (which it looks like he will), and if he breaks a bit smarter than he did at Newmarket, he would have to have every chance of success. The stable are experts at readying a horse for just this sort of handicap, but sadly the bookmakers are fully aware of that fact, and the chances of value can be almost dismissed before they even price up the race. Although we keep looking away, we keep getting drawn back to Captain Colby (6/1) who is trained by Kevin Ryan – yet another trainer who excels in these contests.
Two wins as a juvenile prove he has or had some talent with the last one a very comfortable win at Chester in first time blinkers, though we need to allow for the fact that he did have a great draw in the two stall which really helps around that particular track. We cannot tell just yet if he will be reunited with the headgear, but if he is he may well break quickly and try to make most or all of the running which is not a guarantee of a victory but does at least mean he will avoid any trouble in running the others may experience. For an outsider, we are hoping that Rod Millman’s Bonnie Grey (16/1) could get in the mix and at a massive price. He badly needed the run at Newbury when sixth in a Group Three but will be race fit this afternoon and dropped back in trip (interestingly), and with Oisin Murphy booked to ride, we will be watching the betting patterns all morning for any positive clues.