Newbury 15:00 - Bet365 Hardwood Stakes
There is a nice card at Newbury today, including the lottery that is the Weatherby's Super Sprint, but I think this race is the best of the lot. It's a Group 3 over six furlongs and it has attracted an impressive looking field.
The clear favourite at 10/3 is the Charlie Hills trained Magical Memory. This Zebedee gelding was a good winner of a conditions stakes last time out with Andrea Atzeni on board, where he stayed on very well inside the final furlong. He was completely outclassed prior to that at Royal Ascot where he was never really in the race after being held up through the early stages. He is far better than that, however, and the last time today's jockey Frankie Dettori rode him, he finished second behind the excellent Tasleet in a Group 2 at York. The going was soft that day, so I think he is going to appreciate the good to soft conditions here today more than most and has an excellent chance if running true to form.
Gifted Master, trained by Hugo Palmer, is almost certain to lead this race through the early stages and is he back racing over six furlongs for the first time since May last year. He has two Group 3 wins to his name over six furlongs and his full form over this distance reads 31112. Lady Macapa is the only runner likely to challenge him for the lead, and if Oisin Murphy gets to dictate things at the front, I have a feeling Gifted Master may be very tough to pass, and at a price of 9/1, he represents excellent each way value.
Koropick is the second runner in the race for Hugo Palmer, and he was a winner last time out in a Group 3 on the all weather track at Newcastle. He ran a reasonable in the Juddmonte (a Group 1) last autumn, finishing midfield of ten, and showing that he is comfortable on the turf. Jack Mitchell has ridden him a few times and takes over the ride again today and this three-year-old who is joint highest on the official ratings looks to have a great chance. The two-pound weight allowance he gets from his elders is a plus, and if Mitchell can keep him in a handy position throughout, he definitely has a chance.
The Richard Hannon trained Tupi is a consistent performer at this level, and he won a Listed race with Ryan Moore doing the steering at Doncaster in April. That was also on good to soft ground and he won very easily that day, so I think a return to similar conditions is good form him and I would not be surprised to see him put in a big performance.
Gifted Master - 1 point each way @ 9/1