After the fillies have their shot at glory in the Cheveley Park Stakes, it's the turn of the stars of the juvenile colt circuit in the Middle Park Stakes.
Run over 6 furlongs on the Newmarket Rowley Mile, the race is the season's first Group 1 restricted to juvenile colts. As with all races run on the Rowley Mile, the influence of starting position is minimized in the race. Instead, the potential for upsets is created by unexpected improvements in form in the young field.
Middle Park Stakes trends
While the betting markets can sometimes make a hash of picking out genuine contenders for the Middle Park Stakes (two horses priced over 20/1 have won since 2011), there are a few stable trends that have developed in this race.
One is the form requirements for the Middle Park Stakes. Four of the last five winners won two consecutive races before winning at Newmarket, while the one horse who didn't won his previous race over 6 furlongs.
A few important trial races have emerged from these winning streaks. One is the Group 1 Prix Morny, a French juvenile race over 6 furlongs. Two winners of that race have gone on to triumph in the Middle Park Stakes since 2011. Another is the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York, which has also produced two winners in this period.
However, a couple of winners have also emerged from much lower rated races, highlighting the unpredictable nature of the Middle Park Stakes.
Another factor to keep in mind is that official ratings don't mean much in juvenile races in general and the Middle Park Stakes in particular. Two recent winners have been unrated, and the highest rated horse in the field has won just once since 2011.
2016 Middle Park Stakes field
With the winner of this season's Prix Morny running in the Cheveley Park Stakes, the markets have gotten behind Blue Point. He's trading at around Evens for the Middle Park Stakes after winning the Gimcrack Stakes by three lengths in August. However, he was beaten in the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood a month earlier. In all he is underpriced considering the quality of the field he's up against.
Mehmas looks a better proposition. He's still trading at 4/1 thanks to a second place finish on yielding ground over 7 furlongs at the Curragh last time out. Don't read too much into that defeat, as his win in the Richmond Stakes a month earlier tells you more about his prospects in this race. He beat Blue Point by a neck over 6 furlongs in that race, adding that victory to a Group 2 win at Newmarket three weeks earlier.
Mehmas has a tendency to win his races by small margins, so you'll want to get him each way while he still offers value on a place.
The markets also like the look of Round Tower Stakes winner, Intelligence Cross. Not only is the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes a handy test of juveniles, but he managed to win that race by a commanding 4.5 lengths. Priced 5/1, he's also an each-way option.
In a race that routinely throws up surprises, it's worth having a look at the outsiders. In 2016 the horse most likely to throw a spanner in the works is The Last Lion. He lost out on a Group 2 win in his most recent race by just 3/4 lengths over 5 furlongs. However, in the race prior to that he won a Group 3 over 6 furlongs by four lengths. While he's an outsider for the win, his 16/1 price offers plenty of value on each-way bets if he places.
2016 Middle Park Stakes tip
Based purely on speed and past performances a Blue Point, Mehmas, Intelligence Cross 1-2-3 would be the most likely outcome for this race. However, if run well The Last Lion will disrupt this trio with unpredictable results. It's hard to rule out Blue Point with the times he has recorded over 6f this season, and the same goes for Mehmas who has beaten the favourite.
2016 Middle Park Stakes odds
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