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Thursday 8 December 2016

Spear looks golden

St Michel a potent force but Martin horse looks good each-way value at Newmarket

St Michel is favourite in a wide-open renewal of the English Cesarewitch
St Michel is favourite in a wide-open renewal of the English Cesarewitch
Irish raider Golden Spear

The big worry for punters before tomorrow's English Cesarswitch had been whether ante-post favourite, St Michel, would make the cut but they now can be rewarded for backing him.

In a big competitive handicap like the Cesarewitch, the winner is likely to need a bit of luck over the 2m2f trip and being drawn out in 32 isn't ideal for St Michel, but over this sort of distance, it isn't likely to cost him the race either.

The three-year-old looks a typical Sir Mark Prescott improver and put in a career-best to finish third in the Doncaster Cup last time, for which the handicapper seemed to take a slightly lenient view and only raised him four pounds to a mark of 97.

That sort of rating, and with his three-year-old age allowance as well, makes St Michel a very potent force and at 6/1 he could prove a blot on the handicap.

That said, with such a big field punters would be right to look elsewhere for some bigger each-way value and that could come from one of the Irish raiders at odds of 20/1.

Newmarket will host nine Irish runners tomorrow afternoon and four of those will run in the £250,000 handicap, with trainer Tony Martin bidding to add to his Ebor win by saddling both Moonmeister and Golden Spear. The latter looks like one who could be involved.

The Galway Festival winner represents a yard that is in much better form now than it was earlier in the year and Golden Spear was victorious in a valuable race at Ballybrit over a mile and a half before finishing a three-lengths fifth behind stable companions Quick Jack and Pyromaniac on Irish Champions Weekend.

Last year, Golden Spear ran a very creditable race behind Clondaw Warrior at Galway and he has been relatively lightly raced since then, doing little wrong, including a win over hurdles in the meantime, so he does make appeal at 20/1 for a trainer who is currently overseeing the Emirates Melbourne Cup preparation of Heartbreak City.

Prior to the Cesarewitch, all eyes will be on the Group One Dewhurst Stakes as the current 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Derby favourite for 2017, Churchill, will hope to extend his unbeaten sequence and notch up yet another top level success for his trainer.

Of course, there will be much attention on Aidan O'Brien's Group One runners for the remainder of this year as he holds a chance of breaking the world record of Bobby Frankel for the most Group or Grade One winners in a year and Churchill would look to have a perfect opportunity to enhance both his own reputation and O'Brien's hopes of claiming the record.

As we saw earlier this year, a champion two-year-old will guarantee nothing for next season, but the Dewhurst promises to be a stern test for Churchill, with Blue Point being allowed to take his chance, while South Seas, Andrew Balding's three-time winner, and Seven Heavens, John Gosden's unbeaten Frankel colt, are also in opposition.

That said, Churchill has certainly ticked all the boxes this year and it would be a surprise if he is overturned at this junction.

On Sunday, the Curragh will stage the final meeting of the season at HQ with Monday's card there marking the end of an era for the track as redevelopments begin and racing comes to a close until next May but in the Irish Cesarewitch, trainer Gordon Elliott may be capable of snaring a big pot with Eshtiaal.

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