Middle Park Stakes Preview – Saturday 24th September
Last updated: September 23, 2016 by Leon Marshal
The Group 1 Middle Park Stakes is a race restricted to two-year-old colts run at Newmarket over six furlongs.
Blue Point hot favourite for Middle Park
The race was originally open to both sexes but the conditions were changed in 1987. The race was won by the great Brigadier Gerard in 1970 while Known Fact (1979) and Rodrigo De Triano (1991) also went on to Classic success. The majority of recent Middle Park Stakes winners have gone on to be Group 1 sprinters including Oasis Dream (2002), Amadeus Wolf (2005) and Dream Ahead (2010).
Aidan O’Brien has trained the winner four times, most recently with Crusade in 2011. Godolphin won the race for the first time in 2013 with Charming Thought, although Sheikh Mohammed had won the race three times previously in his own colours. Frankie Dettori won the race for the fourth time last year aboard Shalaa for John Gosden.
The clear favourite this year is the Godolphin-owned Blue Point, trained by Charlie Appleby. He suffered his only defeat in four starts when second to Mehmas at Goodwood in July. Connections felt that he was not suited by having to make his own running that day and he also appeared ill at ease on the undulating track.
Blue Point looked a different proposition altogether in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York next time. William Buick settled him just behind the leaders before quickening clear over a furlong out to beat Mokarris by three lengths. The Gimcrack form has been boosted since by the well-beaten Ardad and Mubtasim.
Mehmas drops back to best trip
Mehmas has clashed with all of the market leaders this season. He followed his good run in the Coventry by beating another O’Brien colt in Intelligence Cross at Newmarket. After beating Blue Point he was put in his place by yet another Ballydoyle representative, new Guineas favourite Churchill. He may not have seen out the seven furlongs trip that day.
Concerns over the form of the Richard Hannon stable were alleviated on Saturday with victories at Newbury and Wolverhampton. He had previously managed only two winners from over a hundred runners.
Intelligence Cross and Peace Envoy represent Aidan O’Brien in preference to 2000 Guineas second favourite Caravaggio. Intelligence Cross has three and a quarter lengths to make up on Mehmas from Goodwood but has since won easily in a Group 3 at the Curragh. He had finished a lot closer to Mehmas at Newmarket and, like Blue Point, he may be better on a less undulating track. Peace Envoy won the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh in July before finishing a close third to Lady Aurelia in a Group 1 at Deauville. He stayed on strongly in the closing stages that day after being out-paced by the American filly in the early stages.
Mubtasim back to his best for in-form Haggas
William Haggas has been averaging over 40 % winners to runners in recent weeks and he relies on Mubtasim. He returned sore after a poor display in the Gimcrack and bounced back to win a £147,000 sales race at Doncaster. He had looked a high quality colt when winning at Haydock last month and is expected to perform a lot better than he did at York.
Mokarris could be re-routed to the Middle Park Stakes after his intended run in the Mill Reef Stakes was thwarted by rain. Simon Crisford’s colt had struggled in soft ground at Royal Ascot and is clearly much better on a faster surface. He still has three lengths to make up on Blue Point from the Gimcrack.
The Last Lion has been a model of consistency for Mark Johnston and has been placed in all nine starts. He won the Brocklesby at Doncaster back in April and comfortably accounted for Koropick in the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes at Kempton. Silver Line appears held by Mehmas on July Stakes form where he was beaten a length and a half into fourth place. He is closely matched with The Last Lion and Peace Envoy on their previous meeting in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Andrew Balding would dearly love to emulate his father by winning this race. He saddles the filly Perfect Angel who is a daughter of 2007 winner Dark Angel. She would have an each-way chance on her narrow victory over Promising at Goodwood in July but has since been well beaten in a Group 3 at Salisbury.
Middle Park Stakes Betting Tips
This flatter track can see Blue Point reverse Goodwood form with Mehmas. Mubtasim ran well below form when something was clearly amiss at York and looks worth another try at this level.
The Middle Park Stakes is due off at 3.30 on Saturday and will be televised live on Channel 4.