Hungerford Stakes 2013 Preview

The Group 2 Hungerford Stakes is the feature race at Newbury on Saturday and features the eagerly awaited European debut of the unbeaten Soft Falling Rain. The four-year-old is trained in South Africa by Mick de Kock and runs in the colours of Hamdan Al Maktoum.

The Favourite

Soft Falling Rain won his first four races at Turffontein over five and six furlongs before being sent to Dubai last winter. He won the UAE 2000 Guineas trial impressively over seven furlongs from I’m Back and Snowboarder.softfallingrain

In February he won the UAE 2000 Guineas over a mile, again accounting for Snowboarder comfortably by two and a quarter lengths. His final start at Meydan came in March when he contested the Group 2 Godolphin Mile.

Settled towards the rear by Paul Hanagan, he moved through the field to beat 40-1 outsider Haatheq by three-quarters of a length. The son of National Assembly has some ambitious entries including Haydock’s sprint cup and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. He is the short priced favourite with Bet365.

The Danger

The biggest threat may come from David Simcock’s Caspar Netscher who made an eye-catching return to the track after proving subfertile at stud. The son of Dutch Art won the Mill Reef Stakes here as a two-year-old and the Greenham Stakes at three. His last victory came in the German 2000 Guineas in 2012.

He had been off the track for almost a year when reappearing in the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and looked set to win until fitness took its toll in the closing stages. He was just caught by the useful Garswood and holds Libranno (4th) on that run.

The Outsiders

John Gosden has his team in fine form and Gregorian put up a career-best effort when third in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. He was unable to reproduce that effort in the Sussex Stakes when fifth to Toronado but that was probably the hottest mile race of the season to date.

The three-year-old Tawhid completes the small but select field for Saeed bin Suroor. The booking of the in-form Johnny Murtagh may be significant for this talented but slightly wayward colt. He ran a fine race at Ascot but hung away in the closing stages and was comfortably beaten by the useful Montiridge at Goodwood.

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