Seven runners go to post for tomorrow’s Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket, and I preview and provide my tips for the race. It looks a pretty good renewal as 3 of the 7 contenders have already won a group 1 this season. The ground at Newmarket today was good to firm, good in places. I’m not sure if they intend to water this evening but with no rain forecast the ground should be similar tomorrow.
Sky Lantern is favourite for this, although I don’t understand how the 7/4 quotes are arrived at. Her most visually impressive performance so far was when winning the Coronation Stakes by 4l at Ascot. It made her look a superstar, but if you delved into the performance it looked no such thing. She was held up near the back in a race run at an overly strong gallop, and by coming through to win going away, she was only beating rivals who had gone too fast, and were finishing very tired as a result. Sky Lantern was the only one of the main contenders to be paced optimally that day, and further evidence to back that up was the run of the 5th, Mizzava, who was also held up. She was only 2l off the 2nd, despite the fact she hasn’t looked any better than her 102 rating, either before or since that race.
Since then Sky Lantern got beaten by Elusive Kate in the Falmouth without any obvious excuses. The slow pace may not have suited, but she was ridden close to it, so wasn’t at any great pace disadvantage. In any case Elusive Kate is likely to get an uncontested lead again tomorrow so a similar scenario might unfold. Last time out Sky Lantern stepped up to 10 furlongs in the Nassau Stakes. She didn’t get a run when she wanted it, but I don’t think she was in any way unlucky, and if he had the horse underneath him, I’m pretty sure Richard Hughes could have engineered a gap. He didn’t, and he couldn’t. She would have finished a length or two closer with a clear run and stronger ride but that’s about it.
When Elusive Kate beat Sky Lantern she was giving her 9lb, tomorrow she is given her 4lb. To say Sky Lantern is 5lb worse off is a very simplistic and flawed argument though, unless you think a 3 year old is fully developed over a mile in early July. The official WFA scale suggest a 3 year should improve 5lb between then and now, the Timeform WFA scale suggests only 3lb improvement though. If you think Timeform are right, and I’d rather a recent evidence based scale, over a 100 year old one, then that suggests that Elusive Kate is 2lb better off tomorrow. So we have a 7/4 favourite whose best form was off an overly fast pace, running in a race that is very unlikely to provide similar circumstances, coming into it on the back of a substandard run, and has been on the go since April. Given her best may not even be good enough I thought 4/1 would better reflect her chance.
Elusive Kate was 2nd in this last year, but she was unlucky not to win, as she stumbled badly leaving stalls, it only cost her a length or two, but there was surely an energy cost too, and give she was only beaten 3/4l, I think its fair to assume she would have won. That day, like when she beat Sky Lantern, she drifted to her left under pressure. She will probably do it again tomorrow, but the effect of that is overplayed and mathematically it costs her very little ground, as long as it doesn’t cost her momentum, and Buick is clever enough to not let it cost her that.
After beating Sky Lantern, Elusive Kate put up what I thought looked like a career best at Deauville, beating Duntle by 2 1/2l. She went a good pace that day and was quite impressive in what was a decent field. Last time out she was a little disappointing, again at Deauville, but this time against the colts. It was a red hot race though, and while she ran well in that race last year after winning the same race on her previous start, the difference was this year the race she won was on softer ground, and she went a faster pace relative to the ground. As such it was more of a test and she may not have recovered in the 2 week gap between races. She’s had a 6 week break since then, and with an easy enough lead likely tomorrow I think she should be favourite at around 5/2. The bookies have her at about the same though so there’s no value in her currently.
Integral has had just the four runs, winning 3 of them. The defeat came in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood when she finished about 1l behind Sky Lantern. Like that one she didn’t get the clearest of runs, and could have finished a length or two closer. That was only her 3rd start so she still ran very well, and last time she dead heated in a group 3. That wouldn’t appear good enough to win this, but a bare reading of the form doesn’t do that effort justice. She was held up in a race that the horse who dead heated with her, got away with slow fractions on the front end. Ryan Moore made a rare mistake on his part when he pulled her out fully 3 furlongs out, and proceeded to go from near last, to hit the front in the space of a furlong.It was a pretty big move and it told in the end, Integral showing guts to battle on for a share of the spoils. The turn of foot she showed could stand her in better stead if the pace is again steady tomorrow, and it also suggests a mile will suit her better than the 10 furlongs she ran in the Nassau, which makes her performance there look even better. She will need to improve tomorrow, but has the scope to do so, and unlike many of these is coming into the race in good form and on an upward curve.
Just the Judge was just beaten by Sky Lantern in the 1000, and was 3rd to her at Ascot, this time 4 1/2l behind. She had excuses that day though as she was up with the strong gallop and faded late. In between those runs she won the Irish 1000 quite well. Last time in the Nassau she ran no race at all, but was found to have ripped off a shoe and part of her foot, so that’s easily excused. The fact she can be ridden close to the pace, could see her at a tactical advantage tomorrow, and she could very well bounce back to her best. While some ratings might beg to differ I don’t think there’s anything between her and Sky Lantern at their best and as such she must have a chance. I thought about 11/2 would be the right sort of price for her so the 8/1 with Coral makes some appeal.
I thought Duntle was going to develop into a top notch filly this year, after being unlucky to get disqualified when she won a group 1 last season. She won a group 2 at Ascot this season with a bit more in hand than a 1/2l margin suggests, but was easily turned over by Elusive Kate in France. Maybe the soft ground didn’t suit that day, but she has since been well beaten in America. The ground that day was firm though and perhaps she didn’t like that either, and the trip of 10 furlongs may have been to far. She will have no excuses tomorrow on either ground or trip, and if she is at her best she could win. I thought 8/1 was about right for her, so 10/1 looks a little big.
La Collina won a group 1 last time out at Leopardstown, having got beaten in her previous 11 starts. The form is nowhere near up to even an average group 1 though, and I’d be very surprised if she made it 2 group 1’s tomorrow. Her price of 16/1 looks about right. Chigun looked a potential group 1 winner when easily beating La Collina at the Curragh in May. She has disappointed since but the ground wouldn’t have suited the last twice, and if she did bounce back she’d have a chance. I thought 14 or 16/1 was about right, so the 33/1 on Betfair looks to big.
As you might have noticed I have quite a few shorter than the market prices, the reason being is that I have Sky Lantern at a much bigger price than her 7/4. There is two ways you could approach this race. You could lay Sky Lantern on