2019 Hungerford Stakes tips – Tate’s 4/1 chance can down defending champion in Newbury’s Saturday feature

James Tate's Hey Gaman can win the Hungerford Stakes on Saturday.

James Tate’s Hey Gaman can win the Hungerford Stakes on Saturday.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big-race field for Saturday’s Group Two feature, the Hungerford Stakes, and he gives his 4/1 selection for Newbury glory.

The feature race of Saturday’s racecard at Newbury is the Group Two Hungerford Stakes which goes to post at 3.35pm, and where eight runners will face the gate with each bidding to collect the £56,000+ first prize.

The seven furlongs contest has a solid role of honour of classy winners, including defending champion sir Dancealot who returns in a bid to retain his crown; while other notable recent winners include Massaat, Breton Rock, Lethal Force, Excelebration and Paco Boy.

The classy Group Two contest will form part of Saturday’s ITV Racing coverage, and Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big-race field for the weekend highlight.

Heading the field, defending champion Sir Dancealot (10/3, Paddy Power) is back in a bid to retain the crown he won twelve months ago, and David Elsworth’s charge has to be respected once again.

The Sir Prancealot gelding took this prize last term with a defeat of Dream Of Dreams, after which he came up short in a handful of Group One starts which include on his reappearance in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

David Elsworth’s charge has never quite been at his best over one mile, and he again came up short over that distance at York when dropped into a Listed contest where he beat only one home. However, returned to this lesser trip at Goodwood latest he was able to run out a one length winner over the reopposing Hey Gaman to win the Lennox Stakes.

He appeared to win a shade readily that day, and he is respected as he bids for a second win in this race although with the prospect of rain in the lead-up to Saturday there is a fear that softer ground might go against him.

Sir Dancealot

Sir Dancealot defends his Hungerford Stakes crown on Saturday

Safe Voyage (2/1, Coral) heads the betting for the contest, and John Quinn’s charge has been progressive this term, winning three times which include a defeat of Suedois at Haydock in the Group Three John Of Gaunt Stakes.

A Listed winner the time before, the Fast Company gelding lost no caste in defeat when finishing just over one length third behind Romanised at the Curragh in the Group Two Minstrel Stakes, and with that form having been franked since by Ken Condon’s charge winning again in a Group One, he has to be given every chance on his proximity to HEY GAMAN (4/1, Ladbrokes) who finished runner-up.

John Quinn’s charge has to be feared as he bids to get back on the scoresheet, and he is open to plenty of improvement still as a lightly-raced sort; but James Tate’s charge was arguably unlucky at the Curragh having lost a shoe mid-race and he might have finished closer but for that mishap.

He had travelled well into the contest, but he faced a challenge for the lead where his lack of a shoe may just have compromised his chance and he may have felt the ground as a result. It was a hugely creditable effort though, and a repeat will give him solid claims.

The progressive New Approach colt subsequently found only Sir Dancealot too strong at Goodwood prior to that latest runner-up effort where he wasn’t able to hold off the late thrust of the winner, but the prospect of rain will hold no fears having won previously in the mud here winning the 2017 Denford Stakes, and the ground was on the soft side when narrowly denied in last season’s Greenham here behind James Garfield.

A dual-winner this term, scoring in a Leicester Listed contest from Larchmont Lad prior to collecting a Group Three success at Longchamp, he should continue to remain competitive and he can reverse the form with his recent Goodwood conquerer with the likelihood of slower ground no issue.

Hey Gaman

Hey Gaman can reverse Goodwood form with Sir Dancealot

Donjuan Triumphant (12/1, Coral) is another capable of a big run if the mood takes him, but Andrew Balding’s charge rarely runs two races alike and it is difficult to predict whether the Dream Ahead entire will arrive here on a going day.

He is very capable at his best, and he handles soft ground well so any rain won’t be an issue, and he wasn’t beaten far behind Sir Dancealot in last season’s Lennox Stakes where he was denied by a half-length.

Having posted a lesser run on better ground at York, he subsequently ran in the frame on his last three starts of that campaign – all on softer ground – which included a Listed win at Doncaster and chasing home Sands Of Mali in the Champion Sprint.

Quicker ground this term hasn’t seen him at his best although he wasn’t beaten far behind Brando in the mud at Hamilton, and the more rain that falls the better for him.

Dean Ivory saddles two in the race with Flaming Spear (12/1, Paddy Power) and Librisa Breeze both lining up, but both will have to be at the top of their game if they are to be competitive.

The former is very capable at his best, and the Lope De Vega gelding has to be considered on the pick of his form which saw him won twice last term which included in a Listed race at Kempton in November.

Formerly with Kevin Ryan, he made a pleasing return to action when finishing just under three lengths’ fifth behind Sir Dancealot in the Lennox Stakes, and if building on that performance then he can go well with the prospect of softer ground likely to be in his favour.

Similarly, Librisa Breeze (25/1, William Hill) likes to get his toe in as he showed when finding only Massaat too strong in this race two years ago before winning the Champion Sprint at Ascot next time.

Things haven’t gone to plan since for the Mount Nelson gelding who has been largely disappointing since that surprise Ascot success, and he failed to beat a rival home in this race last year before disappointing in defence of his sprinting crown.

He rounded off his season with another poor run at Doncaster, and there is a strong suspicion he’ll need this return to action, while he has shown arguably his best form over six furlongs despite getting further.

Given his form of last season, he’ll need to stage a big comeback if he’s to win this.

Librisa Breeze

Librisa Breeze is one of two runners in the race for Dean Ivory

Glorious Journey (10/1, Coral) represents the Charlie Appleby team, and the Dubawi runner comes into this contest having finished own the field behind Ten Sovereigns in the July Cup last month.

He had shown some smart form last term, including winning a French Group Three at Deauville where he beat Sacred Life; although he rounded off his campaign with a dismal run behind Ostilio at Longchamp in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein.

Gelded in the interim, he returned to action at Ascot in May, which was needed, after which he ran good races in defeat in Listed and Group Three company behind Dream Of Dreams and Limato respectively prior to his run in the July Cup.

His performance over this trip behind Limato in the Criterion Stakes was a solid effort, and if he can replicate that performance then he rates a big player here with the potential for improvement to come.

Completing the line-up for this race, Space Traveller (14/1, Coral) caused a bit of a surprise when finding improvement to win the Group Three Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot; but Richard Fahey’s charge wasn’t able to back up that performance at Goodwood next time where he finished sixth of nine runners in the Lennox Stakes behind Sir Dancealot.

The Bated Breath colt had met with defeat on all three of his starts this term prior to his Ascot win, which included finishing well-beaten in soft ground in France, and with the likelihood of rain before post-time the ground may be against him.

He remains relatively lightly-raced however, and he is still unexposed at this yardage so he could go well if the conditions don’t inconvenience. But on the form of his Goodwood outing he has a bit to find with a couple of these.

VERDICT

Sir Dancealot can go well again as he bids to win this race for a second year, and he had several of these behind when winning a second Lennox Stakes at Goodwood last month.

However, it could be worth chancing on HEY GAMAN (4/1, Ladbrokes) to overturn Goodwood form with the prospect of rain less likely to inconvenience him, and James Tate’s charge can gain revenge.

A French Group Three winner earlier in the campaign, he found only subsequent Group One winner Romanised too good at the Curragh where he lost a shoe, and he lost no caste in defeat at Goodwood where he possibly didn’t handle the track as well as the winner.

Versatile with regards to ground and trip, having won on a range of underfoot conditions and distances, the consistent New Approach colt can give another good account, and no surprise to see him firmly in the mix here.

2019 HUNGERFORD STAKES SELECTION – HEY GAMAN (4/1, Ladbrokes)