Newmarket trainer George Scott is looking forward to running the ante post favourite, Gilgamesh in Saturday’s seven-furlong £120,000 bet365 Bunbury Cup, the feature handicap of the three-day Moët & Chandon July Festival, which commences at Newmarket’s Adnams July Course on Thursday.
Edward Greatrex has ridden the son of Foxwedge on both of his last two starts, first when landing a seven-furlong handicap at York and then when suffering a troubled passage before staying on into seventh, beaten under three lengths, in the six-furlong Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot.
Scott, 29, has booked William Buick, successful in the Investec Derby on Masar, to partner Gilgamesh, now back to his favoured distance. Buick was aboard for his first run of 2018 and also when he broke his duck in a maiden at Nottingham in August 2016, and the gelding has gone on to win four of his subsequent eight starts.
The Bunbury is always a highly competitive affair and Gilgamesh is set to face a whole litany of talented opponents. They include Mubtasim, placed three times at pattern level and now contesting his first handicap; Aces, the fast-finishing winner of a handicap over course and distance a fortnight ago; and Makzeem, never out of the first two in four career starts at Newmarket.
Scott said: “Gilgamesh has come out of his Royal Ascot run really well and, although he is the kind of horse that doesn’t need much work, I have been pleased with him at home since then.
“I thought that he ran a really solid race in the Wokingham. I have always felt that he was a seven-furlong specialist. We only really ran him over six because it was Royal Ascot, and he didn’t get the clearest of runs, so I think that you can upgrade that effort.
“He was very unlucky in the Victoria Cup earlier in the season. Four-year-olds have a good record in the Bunbury Cup, and I feel he is the kind of horse that has plenty more progression in him, so there is a lot in his favour.
“William Buick is going to ride. He rode him in his last piece of work before Ascot, when he was only claimed by Godolphin at the last minute, and he’s a fantastic rider who is on the crest of a wave at the moment. That said, Eddie [Greatrex] has done nothing wrong on him and I’m sure he will get plenty more chances in the future.
“I do wonder if, because he is such a big horse, a flat track might be ideal for him [rather than the undulations of Newmarket] as it would allow him to stay more balanced. But there is no reason to believe that he will not handle the July Course and he will love the stiff finish as he always finishes his races strongly.”
Pat Cooney, of bet365, said: “Gilgamesh has been our biggest ante-post mover, having opened at 16/1, and he is by far our main liability at present. There’s no denying his chance as his record over this seven-furlong trip reads very well, and I’ve no doubt he will continue to be popular in the market.
“The bet365 Bunbury Cup is always a high betting turnover race with many runners well backed, so we’ll have several other horses to worry about, notably Mubtasim and Mukalal, who have both been supported since Monday morning. We’re odds-on to get a maximum field of 20 runners and are looking forward to a thrilling finish.’’
Sponsor’s ante-post market: 6 Gilgamesh; 10 Mubtasim; 12 Mukalal; 14 Aces, Louie de Palma, Via Serendipidty; 16 Makzeem, Mjjack, Spanish City; 18 Firmament; 20 Speculative Bid; 25 Gallipoli, Gossiping, Hajjam, Shared Equity; 33 Accession, Big Tour, Burguillos, Calvados Spirit, Cardsharp, Dubai One, Ice Lord, Maksab, Mountain Rescue, Muntadab, Shady McCoy, Son Of Africa, Swift Approval, The Feathered Nest, Tupi, Wahash; 40 Border Force, Burnt Sugar, Cliffs Of Capri, Cold Stare, Manton Grange, Mudawwan, Racing Country, Reckless Endeavour, War Glory.