There was a reliable short cut to the winners of all three juvenile Group races at the Newmarket July Festival – each was trained by Richard Hannon – and the same ruse has been paying off this week for those who backed Zebedee and King Torus. The latter, of course, had been among those to win for Hannon at Newmarket and another, Libranno, brings an unbeaten record to the Tanqueray Richmond Stakes today.
While it might seem perverse to abandon the formula now, the fact is that two of Libranno's four rivals at Newmarket ran below their best – and he likewise profited from a tactical advantage, in gaining first run on Neebras. The time was good, in fairness, and Libranno has the speed and experience to set the standard today. Just for once, however, Hannon and Richard Hughes may have to yield centre stage to another of the season's most fertile partnerships.
Paul Hanagan can count just one Pattern race among the 111 winners he has ridden in opening up his surprise lead in the jockeys' championship. Having showcased his talents at Royal Ascot, Marine Commando (4.0) can now do the same here – with a due nod to Hanagan's boss. For this colt is typical of the ammunition Richard Fahey has been providing Hanagan all season, being expertly bought and trained. Having met interference and run green when winning first time out at Carlisle, Marine Commando did much the same in the Windsor Castle Stakes, finishing with a gusto that implied this sharp six will suit him ideally. The form looks pretty solid, and this colt also seems the type to improve as he progresses physically.
Jacqueline Quest (5.15) has been found a perfect opportunity by Henry Cecil in the Oak Tree Stakes, having shown her draw-assisted run in the 1,000 Guineas to be rather more than a fluke when third in the Coronation Stakes. Her habit of drifting under the whip could be costly on a track like this, but her edge in class may spare her jockey that hazard.
Duncan also has his quirks and that weakens his status as the clear form pick in the other Group race on the card. With Cavalryman having something to prove, the value may rest in the Godolphin second string, La De Two (2.10), whose light career and progressive profile distinguish him from almost all of his rivals.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Maraaja (3.25 Goodwood) Adores this track and has been in the form of his life at eight years of age, finishing energetically for fourth at Newmarket last time. Has an extra furlong and high draw in his favour this time.
Perfect Blossom (5.45 Goodwood) Unbeaten at this trip since joining Kevin Ryan and had loads in hand when winning down another steep track at Epsom last week, idling in front. A more patient ride should comfortably negate her penalty.
One to watch
Edmaaj (B W Hills) Was heavily backed to make a winning debut at Sandown the other night but was caught in traffic and then proved just too green to pull the race out of the fire.
Where the money's going
Tartan Gunna is 16-1 from 25-1 with William Hill for the Totesport Mile at Goodwood today.