Championship ripe for the new rites of autumn
Hannon two-year-old can start to live up to his name on first day of Cambridgeshire fixture
Wednesday 25 September 2013
The Somerville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket today commemorates a past luminary of the celebrated equine auction house Tattersalls and also stands as testament to the recently vanished – vandalised, some would say – old Cambridgeshire meeting. This once spanned most of next week in the calendar, with a day in the middle set aside for the sales, leading up to the eve of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, but races and rhythms have been reordered to accommodate British Champions Day at Ascot next month, now in its third year (and not to be confused with Ascot's Festival of British Racing, which once flourished in a more natural home in September and was once graced by Frankie Dettori's "Magnificent Seven").
Thus of the Group One and Two juvenile contests at Newmarket this week only the Cheveley Park Stakes on Saturday remains at its original home, tomorrow's Fillies' Mile and Saturday's Royal Lodge Stakes having been uprooted from Ascot. The first two are joined by the Oh So Sharp Stakes tomorrow in cramming three of the major two-year-old fillies' races of the autumn into a bare 25 hours.
The Paul Cole-trained Berkshire, one of the leading home-trained juvenile colts of the season, is a defector from today's feature in favour of the Royal Lodge. The son of Mount Nelson has not run since winning the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, but the next three home then have franked the form since with wins at Group Three or Listed level.
In his absence, one of the flops of the royal meeting, Championship (3.40 Newmarket) can redeem his reputation. Richard Hannon's runner was 14th of 15 behind War Command in the Coventry Stakes, but has been given plenty of time to recover in the 100 days since and had justified favouritism on his only previous start at Newbury in May, in a race the Hannon yard often uses for a smart newcomer (Canford Cliffs, Major Cadeaux). Berkshire was beaten a length in third that day and this opposition looks far from insurmountable.
Caucus (4.15 Newmarket) can follow up last year's victory in the Jockey Club Rose Bowl, whose subtitle "Formerly the Fenwolf Stakes" hints at its Ascot origins (the revered Jockey Club Cup, for which this Listed race is a pale replacement, made the reverse journey to Champions Day, of course). John Gosden's stayer was in good form in the summer and has had track or ground excuses on his last starts.
Michael Owen's Brown Panther, who might have used the Rose Bowl as a Melbourne Cup prep, was instead fifth over 10 furlongs at Goodwood. The winner, Grandeur, is himself bound for the US this autumn.
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