Two-year-olds set to shine at Cambridge tonight
By Michael Guerin
All bad draws are not equal heading into two sparkling juvenile races at Cambridge tonight.
The two-year-old season in the north ramps right back up for both the fillies and the boys with Sires’ Stakes heats within an hour starting at 7.26pm.
The boy’s heat in particular looks very strong for this early in the campaign and sees the return of two of the stars of the early season in Breckon Farms Final quinellamates Cold Chisel and Escape Artists for trainers Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan, who also have Always B Elite in the race.
“It is a good field and under the conditions our race winners were always going to draw badly,” says Purdon.
“But we are happy with all three of ours and even though Cold Chisel and Escape Artist haven’t raced this campaign yet they are ready to go.
“They were good at the workouts two weeks ago when Escape Artist actually put in a rough step near the line but that wasn’t his fault because a shoe came loose.
“There is nothing between them. Cold Chisel is a really laid back horse but a good one and I think Escape Artist has improved quite a bit so we are happy with them both whereas Always B Elite will be fitter for his first-up run last start.”
As good as the Purdon/Phelan trio are they face some talented, in-form rivals headlined by race winners Hawkeye Pierce, Tualou and Le Major so typical of any early-campaign Cambridge sprint race it could come down to early tempo and luck as it will be awfully hard to come from back in this field to win.
But that may not be the case for another of the stable’s high-class juveniles in the fillies' heat where Kiss will start a dominant favourite.
She started from a similar draw at Alexandra Park last week and looped the field over the last 600m to win for driver Zachary Butcher, tactics which may have to be deployed again tonight.
“She is a very good filly. We have always really liked her and she has improved this time in,” says Purdon.
“She is stronger so that has helped her gait improve and while, like the boys, she has a tricky draw I think it will bother her less because it is pretty much the same field as last week.”
As talented as she is Kiss won’t have things all her own way as there is plenty of depth to the field including Delightful Lady Stakes winner Treacherous Love, who gets a far better draw this week than she did against Kiss at The Park.
Meanwhile, Purdon says he is happy with Merlin who is three weeks away from a trial on his build-up to the New Zealand Derby.
“He is a rating 92 horses so finding lead-up races up here will be nearly impossible and we won’t take on the older horses off a handicap up here but I think you will see him in races like the junior free-for-all on Cup Day on his way through to the Derby.”