‘Castle’ looks impenetrable at Worcester!

Cavaluccio will be tough to overcome in a seven-runner Novice Stakes over six furlongs of a ‘standard to slow’ Kempton polytrack where I’ll be interested to see the obligatory ‘Wednesday-nighter’ attendance figures.

Prior to Coronavirus this much-chronicled fixture was sparsely attended despite good prize-money, a superb surface and restaurant service second to none but, ironically, even before the old Metropolitan habitat was converted into an all-weather flat racecourse it was a never a ‘favourite’ of so many professionals due to lack of atmosphere.

Conversely the ‘Kew’ venue always attracted vast crowds for National Hunt steeplechase cards, the ‘King George’ on Boxing Day remains one of the biggest occasions in the English racing calendar and memories of Arkle, Desert Orchid, Kauto Star, Persian War are etched in our long memories.

Hopefully an ambiance will prevail and twice-raced Cavalluccio could indeed provide a good reason for serious backers to make the trek and enjoy a juicy-priced winner at expense of obvious Godolphin-owned favourite, King’s Guard, mount of championship-chasing William Buick.

Trainer Richard Hughes obviously had Cavalluccio fairly straight first-up last month when the Caravaggio colt, a 16/1 shot, finished only a length behind Bicep over a similar distance on Lingfield ‘poly’ which represented a fine effort given Pat Cosgrave’s mount missed the break and was several lengths behind at halfway; they ‘flew’ in the closing stages.

Seventeen days later Cavaluccio was much more savvy, raced prominently on ‘good’ Chepstow ground, under Adam McNamara, and found only Mahagoni too good, losing out by two lengths; the winner, our nap last weekend, was beaten only a neck at Redcar where a 7lbs penalty anchored him close home. The form is solid.

King’s Guard, second at Nottingham on debut, needs to improve considerably and I’m confident with Cosgrave back on Cavalluccio will go one better.

Running in tandem will be ‘good to firm’ Bath where Vin Rouge and 86-rated Star Caliber look set to fight out the finish of a seven-runner Novice Stakes over twelve furlong; they come out similarly on my time-handicap at weights and both will be ridden by talented 5lbs apprentices, Saffie Osborne and William Carver respectively.

Stamina is at issue and Jamie Osborne-trained Vin Rouge looks much better suited to this distance. Interesting.

Sticking with ‘summer-jumping’ whenever possible and Jonjo O’Neill’s Edinburgh Castle stands out for a fifteen-runner Maiden Hurdle over two miles of ‘good to soft’ Worcester; don’t oppose.

Selections, Worcester, 3.45 Edinburgh Castle; Bath, 6.50 Vin Rouge Kempton, 7.10 Cavalluccio.

 Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019