Simon Mapletoft on the AWC: Horses to follow – Middle Distance


Options are open for reigning Classic champion Tryster, who has the Dubai World Cup on his agenda as well as a possible return to Lingfield on Good Friday.

Though ultimately overshadowed by Godolphin’s brilliant Coral Easter Classic winner Tryster, Grendisar was a true star of the Middle Distance ranks last winter. Marco Botti’s ultra-consistent five-year-old was second to Charlie Appleby’s star in the Winter Derby and third in the Classic after netting three Listed victories on Polytrack. He will be sharper for his comeback runs, including a fifth in a valuable contest on sand in Turkey in September, and will again be a threat in the Listed Floodlit Stakes at Kempton – his likely early-season target.

Though successful in a valuable heat at Chelmsford on his return, Tryster is set to take his chance on the dirt track at Meydan this winter, with the Dubai World Cup firmly on his agenda. In his absence, Godolphin could dominate this division with young pretenders like Let’s Go and Tempus Temporis. The former, trained by Saeed Bin Suroor, certainly fits the bill so far, having won on Polytrack and Tapeta before finishing within half a length of Tryster at Chelmsford. This Street Cry gelding is bred for the job and gives the boys in blue a ready-made contender for the Classic crown.

The step up to 10 furlongs and the switch to turf didn’t bring the expected improvement out of Tempus Temporis, but John Gosden’s Godolphin gelding remains a serious player back on sand. Rested since finishing third in a Listed race at the Guineas meeting in May, this son of Dynaformer is worth another try over the longer trip after finding a stop-start gallop against him in last year’s 3YO Mile Final.

Maverick Wave, who emerged as a top level All-Weather horse last winter, further strengthens Godolphin’s claims in the better Middle Distance races. John Gosden’s gelding ran as though something was amiss when last in the Arlington Million in August but prior to that had been in red hot form, winning the Group Three Huxley Stakes at Chester and a valuable handicap at Chelmsford. Given his improvement this year, it’s feasible that the chestnut can find enough improvement to be a force in Listed races like the Quebec Stakes and the Winter Derby Trial.

There’s no reason why last year’s Classic runner-up Complicit shouldn’t come back just as good. Paul Cole hasn’t over-raced the four-year-old, who had all his rivals covered with the winning post in sight until Tryster broke his heart on Good Friday. Placed efforts in Listed and Group Three contests this summer confirm his quality, but as his All-Weather record of five from nine suggests, he’s a much better operator on synthetics. A rating of 107 puts him among the Middle Distance elite and another productive winter looks assured.

Captain Cat, winner of the inaugural Mile, cannot be written off despite a less than productive year on turf. His highly respectable fourth to last winter’s Classic hero Tryster at Chelmsford at the end of September showed that the fire still burns and although he may prove a shade vulnerable to younger stars, he retains the ability to win conditions and Listed races over this longer trip with aplomb.

For a five-year-old, David Simcock’s Majeed hasn’t seen much action. He’s won five of his 12 career starts including a warm 10-furlong handicap at Chelmsford in September. The gelded son of Mount Nelson never wins by far, but remains progressive with an official mark of 100 going into October. Proven left-handed around Kempton and on the Tapeta at Wolverhampton, he is versatile enough to take advantage of higher profile opportunities.

Man Of Harlech hasn’t looked back since posting a highly encouraging All-Weather debut at Kempton in August, seeing out a mile strongly to beat all bar one under a welter burden of 10st. He stayed on well over the longer trip to be third in the Cambridgeshire – a personal best – and looks ready for a crack at 10 furlongs for a trainer, Andrew Balding, who excels with his winter strings.

Sir Mark Prescott will also have a team for the winter, spearheaded by the improving Merritt Island, who was a good second to Fire Fighting in a hot conditions race at Chelmsford in early October. He has improved around 35lb this year and again proved his aptitude for 10 furlongs with that effort on the Polytrack. Likely to be suited by Lingfield’s relatively fast track, he remains one to keep on side.

In Ireland, John Joseph Murphy’s filly Hot Sauce has already shown promise at around 10 furlongs, chasing home Chelmsford scorer Fire Fighting in a Listed event at Dundalk in mid-October. She has been found wanting in Pattern company on turf this year but looked well suited to Polytrack and won’t always encounter such a battle-hardened rival as Mark Johnston’s stalwart.

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