57-1 CESAREWITCH SHOT AS DARING DAQMAN CHALLENGES HOT FAVOURITE: With 10 consecutive winning lays in the bag, Daqman attacks the Challenge Stakes favourite today, and he finds 57.0, 33.0 and 21.0 Cesarewitch value in Betdaq offers.

Is he an ace or a lucky joker? Strong Suit certainly doesn’t look that strong on form, and I’m calling him out in the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket today (2.05) for that and three other reasons.

Firstly, he’s been absent since July and, secondly, his target is the Breeders Cup and he won’t want to leave that behind today, first run back. Thirdly, he’s giving weight all round so, in fact, is not clear in the ratings as some of the Press have exaggerated.

He’s level peggings with Chachamaidee, who will love the ground and doesn’t have to improve much on her excellent second to super Sahpresa which, strictly on form, puts her in here on 117, so 4lb in front of Strong Suit at the weights.

2.05 Newmarket (Challenge Stakes): Strong Suit looks good on his defeat of last year’s Challenge winner, Red Jazz, in the Lennox at Goodwood but Red Jazz has been out of sorts all season and drifted to 7-1. Nevertheless, Red Jazz was the ‘moral’, beaten a length and a half, giving 7lb.

Red Jazz has crashed 8lb down the ratings this season to 112, so you could argue that Strong Suit needed to perform only to 108 to win the Lennox. The third horse home is a Listed animal and Strong Suit’s Jersey Stakes win in June was again by accounting for animals of that class.

At Ascot, he beat Codemaster, a Listed winner, and Western Aristocrat, subsequently third in a Listed. In my book, he has to improve today at a time when he’s likely to be ring-rusty and with his eye on a coming event, giving 2lb and more start to older horses.

2.20 York (5f Sprint): Such a tight handicap, only 3lb separates top and bottom weight. The trend seems to be to young horses, with winners aged three and four scoring six out of nine.

That’s bound to turn the eye to Lady Royale, a three-year-old CD winner, who scored back-to-back successes at Pontefract and Ripon under Silvestre De Sousa in the summer.

But De Sousa has switched to Taurus Twins (8.6 Betdaq offers in stall 18), who almost pulled off a 28-1 surprise in a big field at Leicester last month. It may be that this seemingly exposed sort is getting better with age, which would figure under trainer Richard Price.

Tom Tate (Eland Ally at 6.2 from stall 14) is in tremendous form and could provide the danger with a horse that can beat Haajes on recent running and has Steve Drowne booked.

2.35 Newmarket (Middle Park Stakes): This is a race of winners. In the last five years, Dream Ahead, Awzaan and Dutch Art have won this coming to the day unbeaten in two or three runs. Only Bapak Chinta fits the bill today.

Even the exposed recent winners – like Bushranger and Dark Angel – had already scored three times. So you must be looking at Caspar Netscher, Family One and Lilbourne Lad.

Caspar Neutscher beat Lilbourne Lad easily in the Gimcrack but that was on soft and Lilbourne Lad has his ground today. Both are looking exposed now, however, after 15 runs between them.

Winner of the Robert Papin, and second in the Morny, Family One represents the season’s juvenile star, Dabirsim, so we’ll know more about the French after this race.

Rarely do the Racing Post’s Tom Segal and Gerald Delamere agree but they are unanimous about Reply here, suggestive of some ‘vibes’, but the 15.0 – and drifting – on Betdaq as I write suggests there is no market support for their claims for the Ballydoyle colt, beaten in both Phoenix and Gimcrack.

3.10 Newmarket (Dewhurst Stakes): Is there another Frankel among these? He had his fourth consecutive win in this a year ago. New Approach and Teofilo also went to the front of the Classics markets after scoring at short prices.

But, sandwiched between, were shock successes for Irish raiders at 20-1 and 33-1. Today, Ireland has a Ballydoyle at the front of the market (Power) and Jim Bolger with the outsider (Parish Hall).

Royal Ascot winner Power looks the Group-1 colt but faces unexposed potential in a trio of recent winners, all by four or five lengths, Bronterre, Ektihaam and Most Improved.

Most Improved has looked just that on the Manton gallops and, with Bronterre said to have gone in his coat (Richard Hannon has never won this race), and with the form of Ektihaam’s recent success taking some knocks, the 10.0 Most Improved each way, and 4.1 Power are my one-two.

3.50 Newmarket (the Cesarewitch): The short list, following my stats presentation in Thursday’s column and the subsequent draw, is Mount Athos, Sentry Duty, Mystery Star, Bernie The Bolt, Keys, Colour Vision, Beyond, Abergavenny.

Six of the last eight winners were rated 92 or higher and top-of-the-handicap quality seems to be the order of the day with a low draw vital to most, the exceptions being strong hold-up stayers with the courage to cope in big fields.

Mystery Star (an amazing 47.0 on Betdaq, as I write) is the right age and, having finished in front of Mount Athos twice this season, and now better off at the weights, I don’t see why this Chester Cup fast-finisher shouldn’t take him a third time.

Sentry Duty was a very long way behind that day on firm and would prefer some cut in the ground; he’s 5lb lower in a weaker race than when getting a moderate ride last year but the pace will be a killer for a nine-year-old.

The doubts about the ground also apply to Keys, given a hard race by the improver Colour Vision at Ascot. Colour Vision is up 23lb since that month and it may just find out a three-year-old.

Bernie The Bolt, a CD trial winner, would bag this on a going day. His absence may not count against him, unless he races too fresh, and is allowed for in the 33.0 offers this morning.

Beyond (15.0) looks primed, superbly placed, and well drawn for David Pipe. Abergavenny (21.0) doesn’t have the draw on his side but his style of racing doesn’t need it and Brian Ellison’s hurdles hat-trick winner looks just as potent as Beyond down the bottom of the handicap.

My first four home, in a lowest-stall order-in, are Beyond, Bernie The Bolt, Mystery Star and Abergavenny. Two from the quality at the top of the handicap and two improvers with NH or mixed stables at the foot of the weights.

4.05 York (6f Sprint): If the stats work out, you can carve this 20-runner field in half; there’s been only one winner this century to carry more than 9st 1lb.

But, as they say, no one’s told Nocturnal Affair (offered at 8.4) or, to be less surreal, trainer David Marnane doesn’t seem concerned at the high mark for his Portland winner.

The usual sprint-race suspects are among the trainers at the foot of the handicap, notably Richard Fahey with a previous winner of this, Kaldoun Kingdom (2009), to be ridden by Paul Hanagan, and a huge 19.5 as I write.

Not for the first time today, I’ll hedge between top and bottom of the handicap. See you in the Bahamas.

LAY to win 10pts STRONG SUIT and BET 10pts win CHACHAMAIDEE (2.05 Newmarket)
BET (to win 20 points) 3.8pts win ELAND ALLY and 2.6pts win TAURUS TWINS (2.20 York)
BET 4pts win on each BAPAK CHINTA and FAMILY ONE (2.35 Newmarket)
BET 6.4pts win POWER and 2.2pts win and place MOST IMPROVED (3.10 Newmarket)
WIN-40 JACKPOTS: BET 2.8pts win BEYOND, 2pts win ABERGAVENNY, 1.2pts win and place BERNIE THE BOLT and 0.8pts win and place MYSTERY STAR (3.50 Newmarket)
BET (to win 20 points) 2.7pts win NOCTURNAL AFFAIR and 1.1pts win and place KALDOUN KINGDOM (4.05 York)

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