I have to start off by saying what a sad week it has been for racing with the deaths of Ginger McCain and Michael Jarvis.
Ginger can be credited with saving the National and won the great race a record equalling four times and Michael Jarvis was a true gentleman of the turf whose training skills I ranked as highly as any.
As sad as it is to say goodbye to these legendary men, it's a testament to their talent that they have passed on their skills and their names will live on in their protégées.
Donald McCain Junior has already proven himself by winning the Aintree race this year with Ballabriggs and Roger Varian is proving to be a very able replacement at Kremlin House Stables - very much in the mould of his mentor. I'm sure they will both continue to fly the flag.
Farraaj can pay fitting tribute to Jarvis
Moving on to the racing and Newmarket's Cambridgeshire meeting gets underway on Thursday with the feature heritage handicap taking place on Saturday.
Thursday's feature is the Somerville Tattersall Stakes, a Group 3 for two-year-olds over seven furlongs. It would be a fitting tribute if Roger Varian could win this with the likely favourite Farraaj. This son of Dubai Destination holds an entry in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy and is progressing. He still looked inexperienced when winning a Novice Stakes last time out and there should be more improvement to come from the colt, Frankie Dettori rides.
The form of his latest win has been franked subsequently by the victory of the secnd in a valuable sales race - there is plenty in his favour here. Richard Hannon relies on Crius and Red Seventy, the former the pick and the mount of Richard Hughes. He won his first two starts and has finished second on his last two outings. He probably has a bit to find given the likely potential of the favourite. Ireland are well represented with Aidan O'Brien's Crusade and Jim Bolger's Zip Top.
Crusade made his debut in the Convivial Maiden at York and now steps up from a maiden win at the Curragh last time out. He holds lots of top entries. Zip Top won a maiden on debut but despite the hype surrounding the horse he was well beaten in a Group 3 last time. John Gosden is represented by Electrian. This horse ran a huge race on debut to be second at 66/1 in an Ascot maiden (his well fancied stablemate was well beaten). He has since broken his maiden and now takes a big step up in class.
I'm going to stick with Farraaj to give Roger Varian an emotional victory at HQ. Also on Thursday Fictional Account is bidding for back to back wins in the Listed Jockey Club Rose Bowl. However, I think Times Up will take all the beating in that one.
HQ spotlight on Godolphin's fillies
There's a superb card at Newmarket on Friday with the feature the Group 1 Fillies' Mile, which will give us some pointers for next year's classics. Lyric of Light is the likely favourite for this juvenile contest for Mahmood Al Zarooni and Frankie Dettori. She is the only unbeaten filly in the race having won her maiden and the May Hill Stakes at Doncaster last time out. Initially she was going to run in France as her stablemate, Discourse, was pencilled in for this race.
However, that filly has suffered a setback and could miss the rest of the season so the Godolphin team supplemented Lyric of Light for this race to take her place. The May Hill winners have a good record in this race and she has a good chance of confirming that statistic. Of her rivals Fallen for You is interesting for John Gosden. She won on debut then finished second in the May Hill despite being carried right by Lyric of Light. She was still beaten fair and square there though and needs to progress to turn those placings around. Roger Varian's Firdaws is the other filly who can make her presence felt. She will relish the trip being out of Oaks winner Eswarah and can improve for this mile.
Lyric of Light was impressive at Doncaster though and once again should take the beating. I tipped up Dangerous Midge in the Arc Trial at Newbury last weekend and he disappointed there. He is declared to run in the Listed Godolphin Stakes on Friday and has the blinkers back on and that could be enough to see him back to winning ways.
Charlton sets Cambridgeshire poser
So onto Saturday and the culmination of a superb week's racing. Let's start with the Cambridgeshire which looks it's usually difficult race to find the winner of. Dare to Dance is Sky Bet's 6/1 favourite for this nine furlong heritage handicap but declarations haven't been made for the race yet and there is no guarantee that Jeremy Noseda's three-year-old will get a run. He needs nine horses to come out of the race at Thursday's declaration stage. If he does get in it's worth bearing in mind he is inexperienced only having had three career starts and at that price he looks opposable.
Cry Fury is next best at 8/1. He is another three-year-old but has more experience than the favourite. Roger Charlton's colt has won two of his five starts and he can be forgiven his defeat at Doncaster last time out as he race wasn't run to suit. I prefer Roger Charlton's other horse Proponent at 16/1. He has been prepared for this race and he hasn't run since finishing second in the Totesport Mile at Goodwood. The form that stands out though is his second to Green Destiny in the spring where he tried to give him 8lbs, that's form that looks very good now.
Questioning is another horse I like. This horse is 10/1 third favourite for John Gosden who has a good record in the Cambridgeshire. He was only beaten 5¾ lengths by Pour Moi in France in the spring and although he hasn't won his maiden win on the all weather at two, he has run some good races in defeat. He ran well to be second to King Torus at Haydock over 1m with first time cheekpieces last time out, although that form hasn't been franked by the winner. Man of Action and Maraheb are both 12/1 shots.
The former beat Eton Rifles in a one-mile handicap at Doncaster last time out but needs fast ground and Maraheb is a consistent performer who has won two of his three starts for John Dunlop this term - he is a big horse who should continue to improve. Red Gulch is 16/1 and is fancied by his trainer Ed Walker (who is in his first full season with a licence but had a great grounding as Luca Cumani's assistant for four years). The horse has been a model of consistency for his stable this season but has plenty of weight to carry on Saturday. I'm going to stick with Proponent who is a great price and I hope he runs into a place at the least.
Gamilati to show Lowther running all wrong
The Cheveley Park is one of two Group 1 races on the card on Saturday. Best Terms is Sky Bet's 7/4 favourite and she fully deserves her position as the short-priced favourite. She is unbeaten in four starts and won the Queen Mary and then the Lowther on her last two starts. She isn't very big though, but I don't think that will impede her this year at least. So, is there anything that can improve past her?
Fire Lily (11/2) has seen the back of her twice now but ran a cracker to be second in the Moyglare Stud Stakes last time out behind Maybe. She is unlucky to keep meeting the best from both sides of the Irish Sea. Lightening Pearl is 9/2 second favourite for Ger Lyons. She won a Group 3 at the Curragh last time out and has also been unfortunate to come up against Maybe. Gamilati is 10/1 and represents a trainer who is having a great year - Mahmood Al Zarooni.
She won the Cherry Hinton when seemingly unfancied (14/1) but ran badly behind Best Terms in the Lowther and you have to forgive her that bad effort as the race didn't pan out in her favour - it's too early to dismiss her and every horse can be allowed one bad run. I think she deserves another chance and whilst the favourite looks hard to beat I hope this filly can put in an improved effort and run into a place.
Fencing to take Royal Lodge for Gosden
The Royal Lodge is a Group 2 for colts and geldings over a mile. Fencing is another leading contender this weekend for John Gosden. He won a Listed race at Newbury last time out. He is progressive and will appreciate the step up from 7 furlongs and probably wants further still. Ektihaam is unbeaten in two for Roger Varian and is one of two entered for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum who also owns Farhaan.
Furners Green is also entered in the Beresford Stakes on Sunday. Rockinante is one of two entered for Richard Hannon, the other is Trumpet Major, if the latter runs he will have a 3lb penalty for his win in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. Daddy Long Legs is a horse I quite fancied for the Champagne Stakes but he could only beat one home there. It's hard to know what will run at this stage but Fencing looks a smart colt.
Sahpresa has score to settle with Timepiece
The Sun Chariot is the other Group 1 and Sahpresa is 11/4 favourite to win this race for the third year in a row. Rod Collet's mare has been running some good races in defeat including finishing second to Timepiece in the Falmouth, second to Goldikova in the Prix Rothschild and third in the Jacques le Marois last time out.
It's a superb renewal of this race though with the first three home in the Falmouth taking each other on again (Timepiece, Sahpresa and First City). Timepiece is 7/1 to beat the French filly again. Emulous is the 4/1 2nd favourite for Dermot Weld and I like this filly. She has won her last three starts including the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown last time out when she looked exciting. She is still progressive at the age of four and I think she can have a productive Autumn.
Akeed Mofeed to take Beresford
Moving onto Sunday's racing and in Ireland the Beresford Stakes is the feature. Aidan O'Brien has his usual block entry in races like this and but he isn't responsible for the likely favourite Akeed Mofeed who is trained by John Oxx who has some very exciting juveniles in his care once again. This colt was impressive when winning his maiden at Leopardstown last time out and he is from a very nice family and holds plenty of big races entries this season and next. Furners Green is one of nine entries for O'Brien, he caught the eye when fourth behind stablemate Power in the Group 1 National Stakes last time out and the step up to a mile should suit.
David Livingstone is another of his entries and he was third in the National Stakes. Parish Hall is one of the few none O'Brien trained entries representing Jim Bolger. He was second to Dragon Pulse in the Futurity last time out and that horse was subsequently second in the National Stakes. It's a tough race to call before final decs have been made but the Oxx horse looks potentially very smart.
Farraaj - Somerville Tattersall Stakes, Newmarket
Times Up - Jockey Club Rose Bowl, Newmarket
Lyric of Light - Fillies' Mile, Newmarket
Dangerous Midge - Godolphin Stakes, Newmarket
Proponent - Cambridgeshire @ 16/1 with Sky Bet, Newmarket
Gamilati - Cheveley Park Stakes @ 10/1 with Sky Bet (each-way), Newmarket
Emulous - Sun Chariot @ 4/1 with Sky Bet, Newmarket
Akeed Mofeed - Beresford Stakes, The Curragh