Thursday 18 January 2018

Expect Spark Plug to fire on all cylinders in Cambridgeshire

Spark Plug
Spark Plug

Brian Meehan can come out of the relative wilderness by winning the Betfred Cambridgeshire with Spark Plug.

The Manton handler has not had a marquee horse for quite a while now, but that might all change after the big handicap over nine furlongs.

Spark Plug has not won since last May, but that should not be too off-putting if his stealthy progress this summer is factored into the equation. The five-year-old son of Dylan Thomas has turned in some encouraging efforts this season, not least when he got to within three-quarters of a length of Ayrad in a Listed race at Sandown in July.

There was also much to like about his most recent run at York on August 18 when he travelled like a good thing to finish fourth in a hot one-mile handicap that was won by Firmament.

Spark Plug surged gamely towards the finishing line on the Knavesmire - he was beaten under two lengths by the winner - which tends to suggest the extra furlong in the Cambridgeshire will suit him down to the ground.

A good horse with plenty of stamina and a shift of gear, he is only a few pounds higher in the weights than when he defeated GM Hopkins in a really good handicap at Newbury last year. The Cambridgeshire winner invariably throws up a decent yarn, too, as Jimmy Fortune is back on board a horse who left him with fractured vertebrae when he his mount clipped heels with another runner in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot last June.

It seems unlikely Lady Aurelia will fluff her lines in the Connolly's Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes. The American-trained filly was mildly jaw-dropping in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and was then always in control during the Prix Morny at Deauville.

This is an altogether different test, but Lady Aurelia has impressed Newmarket work-watchers in recent weeks and should be too good for Frankel filly Queen Kindly, who is admittedly a worthy foe indeed.

Blue Point's scope for progress probably gives him the edge over Mehmas in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes. The former is a short price, but he really does have solid claims on the basis of a stunning Gimcrack victory at York, which rather left his jockey William Buick in a bit of a daze.

Mehmas has actually beaten Blue Point in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood in July and will be happier going back to six furlongs as a longer trip seemed to push the boundaries at the Curragh a fortnight ago.

Be that as it may, Blue Point has clearly strengthened in frame and stature since that reverse, which obviously bodes very well with next season in mind, whereas the diminutive Mehmas will head to the paddocks at the end of the season.

Away from Newmarket, Casterbridge can be supported with a modicum of hope in the Boodles Handicap at Chester - even in spite of an unfavourable draw. He should have no trouble handling the step back up to six furlongs.

Chester: 2.30 Hathfa, 3.05 Tomily, 3.40 Intransigent, 4.15 Casablanca, 4.50 Casterbridge, 5.25 Pleasure Dome.

Hamilton: 3.35 Indie Rock, 4.05 Portland Street, 4.40 Wowcha, 5.15 Stevie Brown, 5.50 Rainbow Rebel, 6.20 Tamayuz Magic, 6.50 Lady Wootton.

Haydock: 2.10 Lord Ben Stack, 2.45 Eyreborn, 3.20 Muhajjal, 3.55 Alfred Hutchinson, 4.30 Bashiba, 5.05 Spring Fling, 5.40 Buonarroti.

Market Rasen: 2.00 Cliffs Of Dover, 2.35 Red Tornado, 3.10 Presenting Arms, 3.45 Attimo, 4.20 For Goodness Sake, 4.55 Ruaraidh Hugh, 5.30 Bandsman.

Navan: 1.45 Rogue Agent, 2.15 Magnetic Force, 2.50 Blackthorn Prince, 3.25 Everyday Everyhour, 4.00 State Of Origin, 4.35 Mountain King, 5.10 Fonder Brook.

Newmarket: 1.50 Elas Ruby, 2.20 Montataire, 2.55 Lady Aurelia, 3.30 Blue Point, 4.10 SPARK PLUG (NAP), 4.45 Salamah, 5.20 Salateen.

Ripon: 2.05 Await The Storm, 2.40 Fleeting Dream, 3.15 Maldonado, 3.50 Kimberella, 4.25 Apricot Sky, 5.00 Mukhayyam, 5.35 Flower Power.

Double: Spark Plug and Blue Point.

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