Former winners Breton Rock & Richard Pankhurst among 22 chasing Hungerford Stakes glory
Newbury Racecourse stages Betfred Ladies Day with Olly Murs, on Saturday, August 19, when the highlight of the seven-race card is the £150,000 G2 Betfred Hungerford Stakes (3.35pm, 22 confirmations).
Contenders for the seven-furlong contest include 2014 winner Breton Rock (David Simcock) who was right back to his best last time out when a shock 50/1 winner of the G2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood on August 1.
Several of those behind Breton Rock at Goodwood may re-oppose, most notably G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes fourth Librisa Breeze (Dean Ivory) and Irish raider Spirit Of Valor (Aidan O’Brien IRE), an impressive G2 winner over this distance at the Curragh on his previous start.
Top-rated Massaat (Owen Burrows) is set to have his first start since finishing last of seven in the G3 Sovereign Stakes in August, 2016. The four-year-old boasts some top-class form having finished second in the G1 Dewhurst Stakes and 2,000 Guineas, both at Newmarket.
Last year’s winner, Godolphin’s Richard Pankhurst, is one of four horses going forward for trainer John Gosden along with recent G3 runner-up Eternally. The Newmarket handler also has a pair of G3-winning fillies in Nathra and Daban, both owned by Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah.
Nathra, runner-up in last year’s French 1,000 Guineas, was sixth on her comeback in a Listed race at Ascot on July 28, while three-year-old Daban was third to Winter in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket before finishing sixth in the G3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager for Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah, said: “Nathra and Daban have been left in the Betfred Hungerford Stakes and John will make a decision later in the week.
“I think you can put a line through Nathra’s run at Ascot. It was her first run for a long time and she got boxed in and had nowhere to go.
“Daban is in good form and working nicely from what I have seen. I thought she looked a bit one-paced at Royal Ascot.”
Raymond also racing manager for Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, owner of Jersey Stakes third Mubtasim (William Haggas), and added: “Mubtasim is a likely runner at Newbury. I don’t know whether or not he would be good enough to win a Hungerford, but he is working at his very best at the moment.”
Other eye-catching names include G2 Summer Mile runner-up Kaspersky (Jane Chapple-Hyam) and Cheveley Park Stud’s Spangled (Roger Varian), not seen out since capturing the G3 Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster in September.
The main supporting race on Betfred Ladies Day with Olly Murs is the £60,000 G3 Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2.25pm, 12 entries) over an extended 13 furlongs. Open to three-year-olds and upwards, the pick of the older horses engaged are Agent Murphy (Brian Meehan), winner of this contest in 2015 and Godolphin’s Frontiersman (Charlie Appleby), who put up his best performance this season when runner-up to Highland Reel in the G1 Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs in June.
Trainer Andrew Balding could be doubly represented with the three-year-olds Count Octave, a neck runner-up in the G2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and Oaks fourth Horseplay. The pair both hold entries in the final Classic of the season, the St Leger at Doncaster, along with Defoe (Roger Varian). Defoe is unbeaten in three starts this season but has yet to run in Group company while the other three-year-old entry is The Queen’s Call To Mind (William Haggas), third behind Defoe last time out in a Listed contest at Hamilton Park.
The first thoroughbred race on Betfred Ladies Day with Olly Murs is the £25,500 Listed Denford Stakes (1.50pm, 16 entries), staged over seven furlongs for two-year-olds. This race boasts a fabulous roll of honour featuring future Classic winners Rodrigo De Triano, Lammtarra, Haafhd and Just The Judge. An intriguing contender for this race is The Queen’s Learn By Heart (William Haggas), sired by the great Frankel and out of G2 winner Memory, who was an impressive scorer at Doncaster on June 30. Eye-catching maiden winners Dee Ex Bee (Mark Johnston) and Verandah (John Gosden) are other possible starters.
Betfred Ladies Day with Olly Murs runs through to 5.15pm, with the Betfred Ladies Day Derby Handicap for lady amateur riders bringing the racing action to a close. Proceeding the thoroughbred action at 1.20pm is the G2 Royal Cavalry of Oman Clarendon International Stakes, run over five furlongs for Purebred Arabian horses.