LONDON – Firebeam can dent the reputation of the much-discussed Hoof It in the John Sunley Memorial Criterion Stakes at Newmarket.
Hoof It, jointly owned by the excellent golfer, Lee Westwood, will be in the thoughts of most punters ahead of this Group 3 race over 1400m. And while he has the Group-placed form in which to just about back up the hype, the fact remains he has not yet struck in Pattern company.
He was also forced to swerve Royal Ascot due to a setback, which might suggest this race was something of an afterthought as he steps back up to this trip for the first time since September 2010
To that end, a fighting chance can be given to Firebeam, who is a year younger than Hoof It, but has raced just eight times.
The William Haggas-trained four-year-old is in his element over 1400m – especially when the ground is testing – as demonstrated by a carefree victory at Haydock last September.
He was also hardly disgraced when just 4.50 lengths behind subsequent Diamond Jubilee runner-up Midnight Cloud at Longchamp on his last start.
A towering individual who has pace and stamina in equal measure, the fact he held a Queen Anne entry earlier in the month speaks could volumes by the regard in which he is held by Newmarket-based Haggas.
At the prices, it would arguably appear more logical to invest in Firebeam than Hoof It.
A strong card at Headquarters gives Sandreamer the chance to further emboss her record in the ACD Projects Supporting The Animal Health Trust Empress Stakes.
Mick Channon’s filly looked good in a course-and-distance maiden last month and easily deserves a shot in Listed company.
As, of course, does experienced Dandino, who is clearly back in the groove since moving to James Fanshawe’s yard. His narrow second behind the top-class Sea Moon at Goodwood should guarantee an assured run in the Betfair Supports The Animal Health Trust Fred Archer Stakes.
Motivado can be relied upon to take within his stride the step up to 3200m in the John Smith’s Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
Trainer Sir Mark Prescott is virtually peerless in extracting progress from staying thoroughbreds like this four-year-old, who has raced just nine times in his short career.
The gelded son of Motivator has won twice, at Ripon and Haydock, and has offered every indication this huge test of stamina could be right up his street.
His last run in September over 2800 at Haydock, for instance, was a good example as he stayed on after being held up early to take fourth spot behind Lexington Bay, beaten just a length.
As such, the handicapper has left him alone off a mark of 96, which looks appealing if tallied alongside previous Plate winners.
Motivado has archived form in a quagmire – he was fourth at Newcastle in desperate conditions on his debut – and has also gone well in the past following a long absence.
Stepping up to an extended 2800m ought to do it for Beyond Conceit at Doncaster. Tom Tate’s consistent Galileo colt turned in a fair display from top weight over a mile and a half at Haydock last time, but might have got closer to the protagonists that day had the ground been easier.
The Fitri Hay-owned three-year-old should find conditions far more palatable ahead of the Derbyshire Aggregates Handicap.
Silverheels can also be trusted to deliver the goods in the Betfred Mobile Casino Handicap at Windsor.
Paul Cole’s three-year-old has posted some fine efforts as juvenile, with placed finishes in the Superlative, Richmond and Solario Stakes. Although he now has a few questions to answer following a tame reverse at Newmarket last time, the return to 1200m and handicap company could be enough to sway the cards in his favour.
Haggas can put the seal on a good day by saddling Well Painted to victory in the Kathleen Corbett Memorial Handicap at Chester, while the on-song Bridgehampton looks the one in the Poppy Shop – poppyshop.org.uk Handicap at Lingfield. – Press Association.