London Gold Cup preview: Stone holds Solid claims in hot Newbury handicapPublished on: May 17, 2019Author: David Metcalf
The London Gold Cup Handicap which takes place on Lockinge day at Newbury this Saturday (15:00) is a 1m 2f contest for three-year-old colts which has been won in the past by some subsequent top class performers.
They include the Sir Michael Stoute trained Cannock Chase, who triumphed in 2014 before going on on to land a Group 3 at Royal Ascot next time up. He also landed the Grade 1 Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine the following year.
The Newmarket handler’s sole representative in this year’s renewal is Solid Stone, who like Cannock Chase sports the blue and yellow colours of owner Saeed Suhail, and looks a worthy 5/1 favourite with Coral to land the spoils.
This son of Shamardal has only has four starts and showed improved form in each – winning his last two.
In the first of those at Newcastle, he tracked the leaders before running on strongly inside the final furlong to get up close home and beat Forest Of Dean, who he now meets on 2lb better terms, by a neck.
Solid Stone was allotted an opening handicap mark of 85 on the back of that taking success and, after being sent off a heavily backed 9/4 favourite, followed-up in good style in a five-runner affair at Newmarket when finding plenty to fend off War Tiger by half-a-length.
The runner-up went into the race at the top of his game having won his previous two starts, whilst the third home Never Do Nothing has since run really well to finish third to a 96-rated Nayef Road at the same venue.
That gives the form a solid look and suggests a 6lb rise in the weights for Solid Stone is more than fair.
Headman out to add to Charlton’s tally
Newmarket handler Roger Charlton is the most successful trainer in the race having won it three times courtesy of Al Khazeem (2011), Time Test (2015) and Imperial Aviator (2016).
It makes his Headman, an 8/1 shot with Coral, of obvious interest despite having to shoulder top weight of 9st 7lb in what is a typically fierce and wide-open renewal where 16 are set to go to post.
This Prince Khalid Abdullah owned son of Classic winner Kingman looked a very smart prospect when making a winning debut wt Newcastle where, after being awkwardly away, he made mooth progress two from home.
When shaken-up to lead entering the final furlong, he then showed a instant change of gear to put the race to bed and easily beat Repuapo by 3 3/4 lengths.
Headman then got turned over when sent off the 4/9 favourite and finishing a two-length second of 13 to Zakouski at Kempton, but the winner has since run well to finish a 4 3/4 lengths fifth of eight to subsequent 2000 Guineas third Skardu in the Group 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket.
So, although it appeared disappointing at the time, in hindsight it was a fine effort and the pair pulled well clear of the third home – giving the form a solid look.
Headman has has just one start since and found soft ground all against him when sixth of nine to the highly regarded King Ottoker at Newbury.
The return to a sounder surface is likely to see him in a much better light and an opening handicap mark of 95 should not be beyond him judged on his run behind Zakouski.
Thriving Forest Of Dean another with claims
The aforementioned Forest Of Dean is another with leading claims in a race where a case can be made for plenty.
Since being beaten by Solid Stone on his final start of his juvenile campaign, this John Gosden trained son of Iffraaj has shown progressive form to win two of his three starts this season.
After scoring easily by four lengths at Newcastle, Forest Of Dean was arguably an unlucky loser on handicap debut at Redcar when completely blowing the start, before running on strongly to be gaining hand over fist at the finish and beaten just over a length by Sameem.
He then made amends when again slowly away before, but quickly made up the lost ground before powering clear inside the last to beat Ritchie Valens by 3 1/4 lengths off a mark of 85
That was a career-best performance and he is clearly going the right way. A 6lb rise in the weights makes things tougher but Forest Of Dean is bred to be better than his revised rating of 93.
Other plus are that he is two from three over the trip, has proven winning form on the ground, and now gets the services of Frankie Dettori in the saddle for the first time.
So, with the stable also in fine form, everything points to Forest Of Dean running a huge race in this and he can be backed at 7/1 with William Hill.
Dubai Instinct a lively outsider
Of those at bigger odds, Dubai Instinct looks potentially well-treated and makes plenty of each-way appeal at the 25/1 on offer with Ladbrokes.
Trained by Brian Meehan, this son of Le Havre have shaped with plenty of promise on his second start when a keeping on 12 1/2 lengths fourth of 17 to Bangkok at Doncaster in what looks a red-hot maiden.
The winner has gone on to land a Group 3 at Sandown to be rated 106, whilst the second home Telecaster has since bolted up by five lengths at Windsor before beating last year’s champion juvenile Too Darn Hot in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York earlier in the week and emerge as a leading contender for the Epsom Derby.
Dubai Instinct has since opened his account in taking fashion at Nottingham when drawing clear inside the final furlong and comfortably beating First In Line by 1 3/4 lengths.
He has been allotted an opening mark of just 86 on the back of that impressive display and that could well underestimate his ability – especially judged on his run behind Bangkok.
Meehan has also been among the winners of late and is operating at a strike rate of 20 per cent at the time of writing, and Dubai Instinct is 1-1 under Callum Shepherd.
So, taking everything into account, he looks overpriced and has far more going for him than his odds would suggest.
OpenOdds’ London Gold Cup shortlist
Solid Stone ✮✮✮✮✮
Dubai Instinct ✮✮✮✰✰