2:30 – Newbury – BETFRED “THE BONUS KING” GEOFFREY FREER STAKES (GROUP 3) (CLASS 1) (3yo+) Good 1m5f61y
Masked Marvel has not won a race since staying on strongly to win the St Ledger at Doncaster last September. However, his four subsequent runs have all been over 1 mile 4 furlongs and he has not won over a trip shorter than 1 mile 5 furlongs since he won a listed race at Goodwood in 2011 over 1 mile 3 furlongs. Of his last four races, three have been in Group 1’s and one in a Group 2 and it appears that at the very top level he does not have the speed to contend with the best horses over 12 furlongs.
He is back up in trip today however. He runs over 1 mile 5 furlongs for the 2nd time and on the two occasions he has run further than a mile and a half he has won. Masked Marvel is a strong galloper with a high cruising speed and then has the stamina to stay on strongly over longer distance trips when opponents have had the finish run out of them.
His win in the St Ledger is a good illustration of his strengths. The race was run at a strong gallop with Masked Marvel’s winning time being over 4 seconds faster than the standard time for the course. He was up against a plethora of high class mile and a half horses such as Brown Panther, Sea Moon, Seville, Census and Blue Bunting but as the other major protagonists were under pressure to make there moves coming off the final turn, Masked Marvel was kept in mid field with his rider motionless as he crept nearer and nearer to the leaders. William Buick only asked him to pick up 1 ½ furlongs from home and when he did the response was immediate and he ran on strongly winning by 3 lengths.
Masked Marvel has his stable mate Dartford in the race who has been put in as a pacemaker to ensure that the race is run at a fast pace so we can expect to see Masked Marvel run a similar race to his Doncaster win.
The going at Newbury is Good and with no rain forecast and temperatures around 25 degrees expected the ground could be riding on the fast side of good by the time the race is run. Masker Marvel has won three times from four runs on Good ground and his St Ledger win was on Good to Firm going.
William Buick is riding at Arlington Park in the USA this evening for John Gosden so Jimmy Fortune takes the ride today. Jimmy has only ridden Masked Marvel once before which was when he won at Newmarket last year 0ver today’s trip. Interestingly that race was being run at a fairly show pace so Jimmy took it on after half a mile and the horse travelled much more comfortably to win by a head, so Jimmy is a more than adequate substitute for William Buick today.
Masked Marvel does have to put a string of below par runs behind him today but running back up in trip in a truly run race on decent ground is not a scenario that he has enjoyed since winning the St Ledger and the conditions today look ideal for a big comeback run and odds of 5/1 could very well underestimate his chances.