ONLY the nine runners have been declared for tomorrow’s Longholes Palace House Stakes (2.20pm), which is a surprise considering the near perfect conditions.
You would normally expect a big field to take their chances in a valuable sprint like this, as they have done in recent seasons. There were 15 last year and 21 back in 2016.
The small field is actually a bonus for my fancy HAVANA GREY, who only finished out of the first two places in his eight-race lightning fast two-year-old career on the occasion he raced in a field of more than 10 runners.
Admittedly, that relative disappointment came when he finished 10th in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and that actually may have been down to the quality of opposition rather than the size of the field.
However, his trailblazing running style is certainly easier to pull off in a smaller field, as he showed in his final four starts last term.
He blitzed his way to victory from the front in the Molecomb at Glorious Goodwood and was only reeled in late by his stablemate in the Group One Prix Morny next time.
On his final start last season, he was again nutted on the line at Doncaster and he will surely try and burn them off again tomorrow.
His three-year-old allowance means he gets weight from all of his rivals, including a whopping 9lbs from topweight Alpha Delphini.
That may well prove decisive and he could take plenty of pegging back at 5/2 with Coral.
One horse that could be a danger at a decent price is Ornate, who makes his debut for his new yard after a wind operation.
David Griffiths does particularly well with his sprinters, as he showed with Take Cover last season, and it would be no shock to see this one go well at 11/1 with Coral.
It is less of a surprise that only five have been declared for the Dunaden Jockey Club Stakes (2.55pm), as Roger Varian’s Defoe seems to have scared the bulk of the opposition away.
He looked good on his reappearance at Newbury last month and will take some stopping here.
The best betting opportunity could well come in the opening Spring Lodge Stakes (1.50pm) where I fancy Richard Fahey’s THIRD TIME LUCKY to take advantage of a lenient mark.
The six-year-old has been unbelievably busy this calendar year and tomorrow’s run will be his sixth since 28th January.
He has only showed the odd glimmer of life in those starts, but his handicap mark has fallen from 106 last April to a competitive looking 93 as a result.
At Newbury last time, he ran on late in eye-catching fashion to finish sixth of 22 to Taqdeer in the Spring Cup and will relish the step up in trip here.
He also has a particularly good record at Newmarket, having won the Cambridgeshire back in 2015 off a 2lb higher mark, and he was fourth on his only other visit in the same race a year later.
At 11/1 he looks a rock-solid each-way bet in what is a typically competitive Newmarket handicap.
Varian’s Sharjah Bridge is the obvious danger after just four career starts to date.
If there is one horse lurking in the field who could make a mockery of his mark, it’s definitely this son of Oasis Dream.
However, that hasn’t been lost on the bookmakers and he looks plenty short enough in the betting at just 11/4.
Third Time Lucky e/w 1.50pm Newmarket
Havana Grey 2.20pm Newmarket