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The stanleyjames.com Hungerford Stakes at Newbury is a mouthwatering appetizer ahead of York’s Ebor meeting next week. The race is a fascinating blend of seasoned group winners and up-and-comers. The most exciting horse in the race is last year’s wonder filly Attraction, winner of the British and Irish 1000 Guineas and the Coronation Stakes.

She is one of those rare horses that capture the public imagination, an ugly duckling that bloomed as a three-year old into a stately swan. After a long lay off following injury in Hong Kong in May Attraction’s UK seasonal debut has been eagerly anticipated. If she has trained on she should be good enough to win this even under her group one penalty.

However, that weight is a concern against some battle-hardened rivals. Nayyir also had a brush with career-threatening illness in the Far East and looks sure to attract plenty of support today in what looks like an ideal opportunity for him to rediscover the winning habit. On his best form he should win but he is another horse who may be past his prime.

In contrast Jeremy Noseda’s Major Cast is on an upward curve. He won three good races in Dubai over the winter and made a pleasing return to British turf when third in the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. His trainer has proved very adept at placing his better horses this season and with some serious question marks over some of the principals he looks like an each-way steal.

Later on the same card another globetrotter, Mamool, looks to have the Stan James Geoffrey Freer Stakes well within his compass. Ripon’s richest race, the William Hill Great St. Wilfred Stakes, is less easily solved. Twenty-three runners go to post and a case can be made for at least a dozen of them.

Dandy Nicholls farms big sprint handicaps but this one, run on his doorstep has so far eluded him. Today he has an excellent chance of breaking his duck with Ice Planet who runs from stall 23, the same berth as the 2003 winner.

Selections

2:50 Newbury Majors Cast (each-way)

3:15 Ripon Ice Planet (win)

3:25 Newbury Mamool (win)

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