Professor Hungry For A Group 2 Win
Saturday’s Group 2 Hungerford Stakes (3.50) will see John Gosden’s, Gregorian, returning to the scene of his greatest victory in this race 12 months ago.
On that occasion, Gosden’s 5yo came over 1l clear of Soft Falling Rain, and showed he retained his form when a Group 3 winner back in June (7f, soft). Beaten in two Group 1’s since, he will appreciate this drop back in class, but will have to overcome the jinx of 5yo’s in this race, who are now 0-20 during the last 10 years.
Another 5yo who will need to defy recent trends is Chill The Kite, who caught the eye finishing strongly in the Royal Hunt Cup last time (1m, good to firm), having previously won a handicap over the C&D. This 5yo has done most of his racing over 1m and beyond, but could well have improvement over this trip should they go fast enough for this hold-up performer.
While the aforementioned 5yo’s are respected, it’s also worth noting that…
…9 of the last 10 Hungerford winners had yet to land a Group 2 race, which may count in the favour of Richard Hannon’s Professor, who will handle the conditions,
…and had a confidence-booster via a minor event at Haydock recently (7f, good to soft). Professor was held in three Group outings last season, but this wouldn’t be the strongest Group 2 on the calendar.
Hannon also runs another 5yo in Producer, winner of a Group 3 in 2012 (7f, good to soft), before a first Group 2 success in Turkey last season. This hold-up performer could be thereabouts if getting the strong pace required to bring him into the race late on.
Another yet to win a Group 2 is David Simcock’s, Breton Rock, who boasts an excellent strike-rate at 6-12, and having won a Listed event two outings ago (7f, soft), went down by just a short head in Group 3 company when last seen 77 days ago. He has presumably been kept away from the firm summer ground, but the recent rain make him an interesting contender, as all six career wins came in the mud.
The only representative from the Classic generation is Clive Brittain’s, Brazos, who would do well to win from an official rating of 103, as the majority of past winners were 110 or higher.
Of the last 10 Hungerford winners…
9 had yet to win a Group 2
8 returned 8/1 or shorter (8-38, 21%); those bigger were 2-49 (4%)
8 rated 110 or higher (8-42, 19%); those lower were 2-45 (4%)
7 had one run or less in a Group 2 (7-40, 17%); others 3-47 (6%)
5yo’s were 0-20
With most of the field patiently ridden runners, this could prove very tactical, and may therefore suit a horse with a turn of foot, such as the 4yo, Professor, who will no doubt be produced late under Richard Hughes.