Our horse racing expert Andy Holding gives us his tip and insight for the Cambridgeshire Handicap.
Ever since John Gosden landed this race with the super-talented Halling back in 1994, the Newmarket handler has always looked to have strong representation in the valuable 1m1f cavalry charge down the Rowley Mile and with the likes of Pipedreamer, Tazeez, Wissahickon and Lord North all adding themselves to the role of honour since, it makes sense to take a long hard look at his lightly-raced performers when the entries come out. Lincoln winner and now 109-rated Haqeeqy current heads the pile with top weight but whether he will end up running is open to question, so it’s probably best to concentrate of some of his runners from the classic generation and the one who stands out at this stage is RIFLEMAN (best price 20-1).
Gelded once connections accepted his quirky tendencies were in danger of halting his progression, the son of The Gurkha hasn’t looked back since, and following a promising effort when runner-up the smart Accidental Agent on the July Course two months ago (raced a little freely early), he went on to post a career high at York last time out. In what looked a very competitive three-year-old handicap on paper beforehand with the likes of Dejame Paso, Aldaary, Royal Fleet and Wishaah all strongly fancied in the market, the chestnut gelding came through powerfully in the latter stages to score with a bit up his sleeve. Additionally, not only was his overall time figure very good, his final three furlong split of 33.2 was better than the one clocked by Winter Power (33.5) when he landed the five-furlong Nunthorpe Stakes earlier on the same card.
Having failed to settle off tepid fractions at HQ previously, it’s clear based on the evidence on the Knavesmire that a strongly run race is a big help in that regard and as he’s likely to get all the assistance he needs when faced with a maximum field going hell for leather down the Rowley Mile, he should end up being in his element. Whether he ends up in the Cambridgeshire or has larger fish to fry, time will tell, but if Rifleman does end up in field come September 25 then he’s a must for any shortlist. John Gosden also has Uncle Bryn entered and he would have be of some interest would this race be the target considering he was running in Classic trials earlier this season. Poet Of Life is another from the same lightly-raced category but he was too disappointing at Sandown last time out to risk at this stage.