Horse Racing: Hungerford Stakes Preview

Hugo PalmerThe Hungerford Stakes at Newbury has been won by one of the first three at the top of the bookies’ market seven times since it was upgraded to Group 2 status in 2006, which suggests that hopefully we shouldn’t have to look far for the winner (4.10pm Saturday, live on Channel 4 TV).

The favourite Home Of The Brave (6/4) is an obvious starting point, having won his first two starts of the season and finished second, beaten 1¾ lengths, behind subsequent Prix Maurice de Gheest fifth Dutch Connection in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood last month.

The Starspangledbanner colt, trained by burgeoning Hugo Palmer (pictured), only beat Convey (5/2) by a neck in the John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock in May and reopposes on the same terms. However Home Of The Brave’s profile is far superior overall and he should confirm the form.

Convey comes into the race off the back of a convincing win in the Pomfret Stakes over a mile at Pontefract last month. Now he is stepping back up in class and has been beaten on all four attempts in Group company.

Sir Michael Stoute’s four-year-old has won over seven furlongs, but only in a lowly Class 5 maiden on the all-weather at Kempton on his racecourse debut two seasons ago. Despite the fact he is a well-fancied second-favourite, it will be something of a surprise to this preview if he proves good enough to win.

A similar comment applies to Markaz (6/1), who appeared to be beaten fair and square when fifth in the Lennox Stakes, 2½ lengths behind Home Of The Brave. He will surely struggle to reverse the form.

The Dark Angel colt has won a couple of times in Group 3 company, so is clearly no slouch, but has been found wanting on all four attempts at this level. That includes in this race last year and it looks like being a similar story once again.

Jallota (10/1), Dark Emerald (14/1) and Golden Steps (14/1) are all smart handicappers, but are without a Group win, of any description, between them.

Richard Pankhurst (14/1) won the Chesham Stakes over seven furlongs as a juvenile. He is starting to look exposed as short of the class required to win a race of this nature, despite being lightly raced.

We like to find reasons to oppose a favourite here at but on this occasion our Hungerford Stakes preview deserves no prizes for originality. Home Of The Brave looks by far the safest proposition in a horse race that has cut up quite badly in terms of quantity, with just seven runners, and quality.

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