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Jockey Club Stakes preview for Newmarket

It might be Guineas weekend at Newmarket but there is a quality supporting card too. Regular guest contributor James Jack, @materialista27, takes on the distance race of the weekend.

Qatar Bloodstock Jockey Club Stakes
This Group 2 contest is for 4 year olds and older and is run over one and a half miles on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket. In the past this race has been a 1 mile 2 furlongs contest and even 1 mile 6 furlongs up until 1963. Recent winners of the event include Shirocco, Silver Patriarch, Milenary and Marienbard. The prize fund is £100,000 of which £56,710 goes to the winner. Horses carry 8st 12lbs with a 5lb penalty for a Group 1 win and 3lb penalty for a Group 2 win after 31st August 2011.

1. Dunaden (6yo)
Johnny Murtagh for Mikel Delzangles
9-3
The Melbourne Cup winner comes to British shores for the first time after a year winning in France, Australia and Hong Kong. His latest win in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin was impressive, especially considering Red Cadeaux who finished runner-up at Flemington receiving two pounds could only finish three quarters of a length back off level weights. He also beat a few decent horses in that race including Campanologist and some other mile and a half specialists. I don't think you can take too much form the Melbourne cup form as the majority of those who finished behind him have only had a couple of runs in small staying races in Australia. He's shown he can travel well given last year's exploits and Murtagh is an excellent booking for this event. The doubt creeps in regarding the speed at the finish of this race, as his Top Speed rating is considerably lower than others. Given that he stays two miles easily, I'd expect Murtagh to try and take it from the front as his usual hold-up style probably won't be as effective on soft ground here against these rivals. He should finish in the frame, but I'd be surprised to see him win unless the course turns to mud overnight.
Best Odds: 5/1 (William Hill)

2. Masked Marvel (4yo)
William Buick for John Gosden
9-3
Last season's St. Leger hero's participation is dependent on the going conditions. He has only one start on Soft and I would rate his participation as doubtful. Nevertheless, after a stinking performance in the Arc last time out, he would be looking to prove his class and stamp his authority over this field, set himself up for a tilt at the Coronation Stakes at Ascot and redemption at Longchamp in October. He was 8th in the Derby last season which was plenty sharp a trip for him. I can't see him doing too much good in this race and Gosden will be happy to have him back on track and get a run into him. Saying that however, a half brother of his Jukebox Jury won this race in 2010, so there is hope in the pedigree. I won't be touching him, but if he runs, he'll sit in the group and try to go from The Dip and pinch this at the finish. I don't fancy his chances, but he may be one to back later in the series.
Best Odds: 6/1 (Bet 365)

3. Al Kazeem (4yo)
James Doyle for Roger Charlton
8-12
An interesting prospect as after finishing albeit a distant second in the Great Voltigeur at York last season he returned to his favoured Newbury ans was beaten by Green Destiny and Beaten Up in his final starts of last season. This is his seasonal reappearance, so hopefully he'll have strengthened up a bit over the winter and he doesn't look to have any problems with handling the surface. Although this is a big step up against some classy horses, this could be the start of a very good campaign. He's plenty quick enough and despite his showing up at the hands of Sea Moon at York and Sea Moon's subsequent defeat by Masked Marvel in the St. Leger, I think he'll be a lot closer than the ten or so lengths that the form suggests. If he can stay in touch when the pace quickens for the finish, he could be in with a good shout at the line. Decent EW shout for me, price is too big for his chances.
Best Odds: 10/1 (Bet Victor)

4. Blue Bajan (10yo)
Daniel Tudhope for David O'Meara.
8-12
This will be like watching one of the Pensioners turning out for Chelsea on Saturday at Wembley. His last run over a mile and a half was at Chester in summer 2009 where he finished behind Snoqualmie Girl and Traffic Guard. In fact it's nearly SIX YEARS since his only win over this distance. His solitary win in the last four years came in a two mile Group 2 at Sandown where he beat Montaff who subsequently finished second in the Northumberland Plate. He looks woefully out of his depth, and at this stage in his career, the only thing worse than his mile and a half flat form is his hurdle form. He's had a good career, but he's firmly in the twilight of that and he isn't even worth betting a fiver you find in an old pair of trousers.
Best Odds: 25/1 (Bet Victor)

5. Fiorente (4yo)
Ryan Moore for Sir Michael Stoute
8-12
Wasn't seen as a two year old, but had a steady if not spectacular three year old campaign, winning his maiden at the second attempt then finishing second to Nathaniel in the King Edward VII at Ascot and second to Namibian in the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. He ran a bit green in the King Edward VII and after sorting that out, he went close at Goodwood. I think the return to a slightly less undulating track will help him out, and if he can settle into the group he'll have a decent chance in the last couple of furlongs. I'd certainly expect him to improve this season, and having wanted to back him at Newbury the other week, he'll be one I follow this season and could win me a bit of cash. The only question mark is the form of Stoute. He tends to do a bit better with some older horses, see Conduit and Harbinger and I'm happy enough to have Moore on board. He should handle the ground well enough despite being pulled from that Newbury race, and for me he's a big chance and I'll be disappointed if he isn't in the front two.
Best Odds: 9/2 (William Hill)

6. Meandre (4yo)
Maxime Guyon for Andre Fabre
8-12
Winner of the Grand Prix de Paris last summer, he then tanked in the Arc, finishing 6th, but he has only won three races and that includes a listed event at Longchamp and a conditions race at Maisons-laffitte. Considering he beat Seville in the Grand Prix de Paris, who finished two lengths behind Al Kazeem at York, and Reliable Man, who got his own back in the Prix Niel in softer ground at Longchamp in September. I can't put that much faith into the French form as this horse isn't Cirrus Des Aigles by a long shot and having bottled any potential clashes with Europe's champion Jaffa, they swerved the Ganay which carried the same prize money for 2nd as this race does for the winner. The form for the Champion Stakes and the Ganay ties in with this races nicely, as Fiorente's conqueror Natahaniel finished three lengths behind Cirrus des Aigles at Ascot and Meandre's conqueror Reliable Man finishing ten lengths behind Cirrus des Aigles in the Ganay. I mean sure, we don't have too many runs from Meandre to base this on and it's mostly conjecture, but I don't feel he has improved as much as others in this race over the past year, and given that this is his first overseas trip and he only has two wins over a mile and a half, I don't see him as the clear favourtie for this race. I'd be happy to put my money elsewhere and if Meandre wins, good luck to him, but take him back to France and run him over there.
Best Odds: 9/4 (Stan James)

7. Quest For Peace (4yo)
Kieren Fallon for Luca Cumani
8-12
Finished 5th in the Canadian International last time out after beating Arctic Cosmos in the Cumberland Lodge on his last start in Britain both times under Fallon's stewardship. He beat Lost in the Moment by six lengths that day, who finished a four length 6th to Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup. I get the feeling however, he'd prefer a firmer course, so it reamins to be seen how he will handle the soft Rowley Mile. Given that he was previously with Aiden O'Brien and went to Luca Cumani after winning the Lenebane Stakes at Roscommon. He looked progressive towards the end of last season, especially in his Ascot victory, and despite his setback at Woodbine, I expect him to bounce back on his seasonal debut at home. He holds an entry for the Coronation Cup and the Hardwicke stakes later in the season, and although he is good enough to win this race, I think it'll be more of a case of blowing away the cobwebs and getting set for the faster ground of the British summer. Despite his failures and faults, I'm a fan of Kieren and I think if the horse has it in him, his jockey will find it, unlike our final entry.
Best Odds: 9/1 (Bet 365)

8. Sadeek's Song (4yo)
Frankie Dettori for Mahmood Al Zarooni
8-12
“If you can't win, don't try” Frankie's mantra on life presumably. He should've been hammered for dropping his hands on Blue Bunting in the Oaks last year, but escaped with a ten day ban. Despite his borderline fraudulent riding at times, he is toxic at times for punters and his “Magnificent Seven” was 16 years ago, so it'd be nice to see him give us a few winners after all those losers. I can never seem to get a winner on him, but he does have a good strike-rate at Newmarket, and Al Zarooni has a ridiculous 28% strike-rate himself. There isn't a great deal in the form as he's only run four times and has amassed an enormous £10,678 in prize money. It seems that the step-up to a mile and a half has really suited given his win in the Sir Gordon Richards Conditions Stakes and having beaten Colombian that day who coincidentally went on to win the Sir Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown last weekend, he might be well in with the form. It also appears that he likes proper jockeys on his back, his wins have come under Moore and Fallon and his defeats under the woeful Ahmed Ajtebi. My main concern, apart from the jockey obviously, is how he handles the ground. Both his wins have come on good to firm, so the soft going may prove to be a bit of a struggle, especially against horses proven on the softer stuff. He's one to watch, but only watch, no financial investment from me.
Best Odds: 12/1 (Bet Victor)

ADVICE
4pt win Fiorente @ 9/2
2pt EW Al Kazeem @ 10/1
1pt RFC Fiorente and Al Kazeem

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