You could excuse John Gosden for hitting the bottle after a relatively quiet spell for his powerful Clarehaven Stables but let’s hope he is raising a glass of the sponsor’s product after Muntahaa has contested the Listed Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer Stakes Handicap at Chester (3.15) today.
Gosden, like several in Newmarket, has had to rein back with his team due to a virus that has been effecting horses in the town but the consummate professional would certainly not be running his progressive three-year-old without a clean bill of health.
Muntahaa is only of his generation in the 12-runner contest but he is facing some exposed opposition and looks to be making rapid strides in his career. The grey Dansili colt didn’t set foot on a racecourse until taking his chance in the Wood Ditton Stakes at Newmarket in April where he finished third to Sky Kingdom and then was just a little keen and found the mile and a quarter at Nottingham too short when beaten a two and a quarter lengths by Poet’s Word who has since gone on to win at competitive handicap at Glorious Goodwood.
The step up to a mile and a half was just what the doctor ordered at Kempton next time where Muntahaa inflicted a six length defeat upon Marmelo with Alyssa three and three quarter lengths back in third and that form has been firmly franked since. Marmelo went onto win his maiden at Doncaster next time by ten lengths and was runner-up in a listed contest at Deauville last Sunday and Alyssa has since completed a hat trick.
If further evidence was needed of Muntahaa’s improvement is was given in spades at Royal Ascot where he had plenty to prove on form but excelled in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes when third, beaten just over a length and a quarter, to Across The Stars. The winner finished third to Derby third Idaho in the Great Voltigeur at York on Wednesday and Houseofparliament, who finished fourth at Royal Ascot did even better when occupying the runner-up spot in that event.
Today’s contest doesn’t attract large numbers of three-year-olds but Big Orange took the race in 2014 off a mark of 101 and, drawn favourably in stall 5 Muntahaa looks up to the task off his rating of 108. He looks worth a 2pt investement.
William Haggas took the Group 2 Irish Thoroughbred Market Gimcrack Stakes at York (3.25) 12 months ago with Ajaya and could have another likely lad in the shape of Mubtassim. The Arcano colt showed a deft turn of foot to overhaul the well-touted Jumira Bridge by two lengths on his debut over six furlongs at Yarmouth at the end of June and gained further experience with a pulsating four and a half length defeat of Town Charter in a novice contest at Haydock at the start of this month.
Mubtassim has a little to find to bother Blue Point and Intelligence Cross but he hasn’t really been asked a question in both his races and could well be ready for this step up in class. He looks worth a 1pt investment.