Hungerford Stakes preview: Dreams can come true

There's a competitive card at Newbury on Saturday.
There's a competitive card at Newbury on Saturday.

Nick Seddon takes a look at Saturday’s Group 2 Hungerford Stakes over seven furlongs at Newbury, a trip which requires something of a specialist…

The life of a bona fide seven furlong performer is a nomadic one, and due to the fact that there are no Group 1 races in the UK and Ireland over the trip, high-class horses in this bracket tend to jump between sprinting over six furlongs and trying their hand over a mile.

France offers two top level contests over seven during the season, in the form of the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly and the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp, but Saturday’s Hungerford Stakes at Newbury provides a rare opportunity to shine over this trip on these shores - and a field of 10 runners are set to take their chance. 

One horse who seemingly ticks the specialist box is the three-year-old Threat, who won his sole start over this trip in last season’s Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. A smart performer last year, he’s found life tough in two starts so far this season; finishing fifth on reappearance in the St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile in June, before never really getting into things when tenth of twelve over six furlongs in last month’s July Cup. He isn’t one to give up on just yet, however, and he would be right in the mix if showing his best form now returned to seven furlongs.

Two more with some good form over seven furlongs are Surf Dancer and Breathtaking Look. The first-named shaped well in his first two starts in handicap company this campaign, and looked made for this trip when striking in the listed King Charles II Stakes at York last month (Lincoln Bright third, Symbolize fourth). This is tougher, but there could be more to come yet from this three-year-old over this trip, and he’s respected. 

Meanwhile, Lincoln Bright ran a screamer to finish third behind Surf Dancer at 40/1 and could be open to more improvement yet after just three starts - for all that he’ll need it - while Symbolize would be interesting if able to build on his effort to finish third in the Jersey Stakes back in June, though that form hasn’t proven to be the strongest thus far.

Breathtaking Look tends to sit prominently in her races, and she too has some smart form at this trip, winning the Group 3 Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster last September. She would come into calculations if showing her best form here, and while she ran an excellent race to finish second in last month’s Group 3 Summer Fillies’ Stakes at York, she disappointed slightly when fourth behind One Master in the Oak Tree Stakes at Goodwood last time. She’s likely to be battling for the lead with Lincoln Bright early on, and could be vulnerable to a closer as a consequence.

However, it could be worth siding with Dream Of Dreams, who is best known for his exploits over six furlongs. Rather surprisingly, the six-year-old's two most prestigious victories to date have both come at listed level over six furlongs, but he has been a regular in Group company over the past couple of seasons, finishing second in each of the last two renewals of the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

It could be argued that he perhaps doesn't win as much as he should for one with so much talent, but he sets a clear standard here on his best form, and tends to be at his best during the summer months. He's run well at this trip in the past, finishing second behind Sir Dancealot in the 2018 renewal of this race, and he stayed on really well when just failing to catch Hello Youmzain at Ascot last time out. The trip should therefore hold no fears, and provided he can run up to his best, he should prove too tough a nut to crack - with the forecast strong pace playing into his hands.

Along with the Hungerford, last month’s Lennox Stakes at Goodwood is one of just a handful of Group 2 races in Britain over seven that are open to the older age groups, and each of Glorious Journey (ninth), Pierre Lapin (tenth) and History Writer (eleventh) took their chance behind Space Blues. All three were well beaten on the day, though Glorious Journey looked in need of the run on reappearance. He has plenty of good form over this trip, winning this race last year and gamely picking up a Group 2 success over this trip at Meydan in January. He's entitled to take a step forward here, but this year's renewal looks tougher. 

Meanwhile, Pierre Lapin was a smart performer at two, winning the Mill Reef Stakes over six furlongs here last September, but he’s struggled on his two starts so far this term and has a lot to prove at present, while History Writer has a listed success over a mile under his belt from last season, but he looks well held at this level. With that in mind, it looks worth siding with Dream Of Dreams to take advantage of the return to this trip. 

Selection

Hungerford Stakes, Newbury, Saturday 15th August - back Dream Of Dreams at 5/2

Hungerford Stakes
Dream Of Dreams silk

Dream Of Dreams

won
York Ebor Festival
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