Feature Races

Five key questions ahead of the Future Champions Festival

Pinatubo is a long odds-on favourite for Saturday's Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes.
Pinatubo is a long odds-on favourite for Saturday's Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes.

Ahead of another big weekend of Flat racing action, Nick Seddon looks at five key conundrums which need solving, as Pinatubo bids to make it six career wins out of six at Newmarket...

How low will his price go?

Although the result may feel like something of a formality, there's still plenty that we can learn from Saturday's Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, as Pinatubo bids to pick up a second Group 1 success on the bounce. He's been borderline faultless in his five starts to date, winning the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh last month in such impressive fashion that he has officially been rated as the best juvenile for a quarter of a century. Such is the impression that he's created, that he's already as short as even money for next year's 2000 Guineas, and should he win in a similar fashion to last month's Phoenix romp, we could see the first odds-on favourite for the Guineas since the great Frankel in 2011. 


Although most of the attention will be on the two-year-olds running at Newmarket tomorrow afternoon, there's an interesting juvenile sub-plot taking place up at York, in the form of the listed Rockingham Stakes over six furlongs at 14:40. This race has been won by some smart performers of late, including Donjuan Triumphant in 2015, and his owners King Power Racing have another interesting two-year-old this time around, the Tim Easterby-trained Lampang. A £115,000 purchase as a yearling, Lampang has impressed in winning two novice contests at Ripon and Carlisle respectively so far, and although this is a notable step up in class, he will likely be a warm order in the betting tomorrow. There should be more to come from him yet, and it will be interesting to see if he can justify his short price. 

Is Reserve going to be a Tank over fences?

We're in that strange period of the year where Flat racing and Jumps racing tend to overlap each other in harmony, and as such there's a top-quality card over the Welsh border at Chepstow on Saturday. The most interesting race could prove to be the novices' chase at 15:55, which sees Reserve Tank make his chasing debut for the Colin Tizzard team. After suffering a couple of defeats in novice races over timber at the beginning of last season, Reserve Tank flourished into one of the emerging stars of the season by the spring, winning back-to-back Grade 1 contests at Aintree and Punchestown, respectively. He attacked his hurdles really well last season, and looks an excellent chasing prospect this term - but only time will tell...

Will punters complete the autumn double?

Bookmakers were left wincing when the well-backed Lord North bowled clear to win the Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket a fortnight ago, and they will be hoping that they can avoid a similar outcome in the second half of the traditional autumn double, tomorrow's Cesarewitch Handicap at the same course. Frankie Dettori was on board Lord North a fortnight ago, and he is due to ride the favourite at the time of writing, the Willie Mullins-trained Buildmeupbuttercup. The five-year-old hails from the same yard as last year's winner Low Sun, and has a strikingly similar profile to her stablemate to boot. A 5/1 favourite at the time of writing, will Buildmeupbuttercup inflict another day to forget on the layers?

Mullins at the double?

It's becoming the norm for National Hunt yards to target valuable staying prizes on the level, and should Willie Mullins come out on top in Saturday's Cesarewitch at Newmarket, he could find himself on the brink of a notable double - as he has several with leading chances in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh a day later. Indeed, each of Legal Spin, Saglawy and Nessun Dorma are prominent in the market at the time of writing, and it would be no surprise should the master trainer strike yet again.

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