Champion Irish jumps trainer Willie mullins has his eye on Saturday’s £100,000 JLT Cup at Newbury (2.25), a new addition to the racing calendar that provides stayers with a welcome stepping stone between Royal Ascot and the Ebor Handicap.
A maximum field of 18 is set to go to post for the inaugural running of the event with Mullins’ Stratum, the mount of Robert Winston, the clear 9/2 favourite with Bet365 following a fine effort at Royal Ascot last month when finishing third to stable companion Lagostovegas in the two-and-a-half mile Ascot Stakes Handicap. The five-year-old Dansili gelding runs off a 2lb higher mark and wears a hood for the first time, but connections appear confident he will go very close to justifying his current market position.
“We’ve put the hood on him as he was keen enough at Ascot, so we’re hoping it will help him settle,” explained Patrick Mullins, assistant trainer to his father. “He ran on really well at Ascot [and] was probably the horse to take out of the race. There’s huge prize-money for this race – JLT are to be commended – and hopefully he can bring back some sterling. If he produces his run from Ascot, he should be bang there again.
“I don’t see the ground being an issue. He’s versatile, he handled fast ground well at Ascot and came out of that really well. He’s still only had 12 runs in his life, so he’s definitely open to more improvement.”
Other leading market contenders include Owen Burrows’ Quloob (6/1 with BetVictor) who shaped with promise on his first start for 11 months when a solid fifth of 13 at Newmarket six weeks ago having been very progressive last term. He wears first time cheekpieces and will be partnered by Jim Crowley. Almoghared (15/2 with Ladbrokes), like Quloob owned and bred by Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, represents the powerful John Gosden yard and was a god fourth behind current St Leger favourite Kew Gardens in the Group 2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot on only his third career start.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.