Past Winners » Spark Plug
It is easy to see why, in the absence of Firmament, Sacred Act is clear favourite for Saturday’s Cambridgeshire. He is a lightly-raced horse, he showed a nice turn of foot to win last time at Sandown, 12 days ago, on his seasonal debut, his first run since he was gelded, when he was largely unfancied, he has a nice low weight, he is 3lb well-in, he will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, and he is trained by John Gosden, who has won the three times with similar types.
But it is possible to pick holes. The main negative is the fact that the Cambridgeshire is a tough race that usually goes to a horse who has plenty of experience of racing in these big handicaps. It is run over a straight nine furlongs, there is no hiding place, no home turn where you can catch your breath.
Sacred Act has raced just once this season, and just five times in his life, he has obviously had his issues. And while he has plenty of scope for progression, he is going to have to step forward from his Sandown win if he is going to win a Cambridgeshire. I am happy to be against Sacred Act at the price.
Last year’s winner Third Time Lucky has a big chance. He was an unlucky-enough fifth behind Firmament in a good one-mile handicap at York. His mark of 100 is just 5lb higher than the mark off which he won last year, and we know that he handles the track and that the nine-furlong trip is good for him. However, he is short at 12/1.
I think that both Spark Plug and Bravo Zolo represent better value at bigger prices, and I am backing both.
Spark Plug ran in Firmament’s York race in which Third Time Lucky finished fifth, he just got past Richard Fahey’s horse inside the final 50 yards to take that spot.
He ran a nice race that day. Held up early on, he made nice headway on the run to the two-furlong pole, and he finished off his race well to take fourth place, nearest at the finish.
That was his first run since July, it was his best run for a while, and it should have brought him forward nicely for Saturday’s race, which has surely been on Brian Meehan’s radar for him for a while.
The Cambridgeshire is a good race for Spark Plug. He has one-mile pace, his three wins have been over a mile, but he also stayed 10 furlongs well enough when he was just beaten three parts of a length by Ayrad at Sandown over that trip in July. Nine furlongs could be close to optimum for him these days.
He is proven in these big-field handicaps, he has won a 14-runner handicap over a mile, and he has run big races in the Royal Hunt Cup and the Balmorral Handicap. His rating of 104 is 3lb lower than his peak and, if he can progress just a little from his last run at York, which looks more probable than possible, that should take him close …
SPARK PLUG WON (ADV 14/1, SP 12/1)