Newmarket, England: The Godolphin Mile has a clear favourite in Tamarkuz, who is coming off three straight wins over course and distance.
He drew well as he landed in stall one and has a good chance of winning again. I’m not so sure he should be touted as a possible banker, however, as he will now be facing much better horses — not least from the US.
Another worry is that Tamarkuz won by almost three lengths on Super Saturday — for a second time chased home by Gold City — but he had to run really hard all the way, and there is always the danger of the dreaded ‘bounce factor’ with a horse like this. There is a lot to like about him, but he is not the only one to catch the eye in this competitive contest.
Bradester has a lot of appeal, representing trainer Eddie Kenneally and jockey Jose Lezcano, who partnered Bradester when he ran second in two strong mile events at Monmouth last year.
He was one-and-a-half lengths behind subsequent Grade One winner Itsmyluckyday in the Salvator Mile (giving the winner 2lb) and second to Valid, who had been third in the Salvator, in the Monmouth Cup, when Bradester was once more conceding 2lb.
He moved on to Churchill Downs, where he led for most of the mile trip to win the Ack Ack Handicap by one-and-three-quarter lengths from Carve, another reliable yardstick in this division.
Bradester’s prominent running style makes him ideally suited to this dirt track. He is coming off a break but has won after lay-offs in the past. Like Tamarkuz, he has run to Globeform 116, he has a good starting point in stall five and is my narrow pick.
Prayer For Relief is in the same league as Bradester in the US and is also in with a shot, while the two English runners, Graphic, who made all the running for a G3 win over a straight mile last year, and Sloane Avenue add further spice to the contest.
Sloane Avenue, a lightly raced four-year-old, who beat Dubai Turf contender Cladocera in England last November, seems the most talented — and he is the one horse in this race open to significant improvement. Drawing stall 15 was not good news though and both Sloane Avenue and Surfer (16) are at a disadvantage here.
Eighty per cent of all dirt races at this year’s Carnival were won by horses that either led all the way or raced prominently. That said, if the likes of Tamarkuz, Bradester and Frankyfourfingers, plus possibly Free Wheeling, go head-to-head in a crazy speed duel early on, well, then it may set it up for a closer like Sloane Avenue.
— The author is the editor of Newmarket-based independent racing and handicapping publication globeform.co.uk