William Haggas has two runners in his bid to win the bet365 Cambridgeshire for the first time at Newmarket on Saturday.
Seven days on from combining to land the Ayr Gold Cup with Nahaarr, Haggas and in-form jockey Tom Marquand team up with Sinjaari, who won the John Smith’s Cup at York on his only previous start this season in mid-July.
Haggas also saddles Montatham, who reverts to handicap company under Jim Crowley after finishing second in a Listed contest at Sandown recently, however, Ilaraab, the scheduled mount of Cieren Fallon, does not run.
Haggas said: “It might be asking a bit much of Sinjaari to win a John Smith’s Cup and a Cambridgeshire, but he’s very well and I’m very happy with him.
“He’s down in trip so there’s always a concern, but there aren’t many options for these good handicappers – they can run in Listed races and win £15,000, or wait for big pots like this. They may as well run for the big money.
“Montatham is going up in trip a bit, but he will love the cut in the ground and he’s very well, he’s been running well all year.
“They’ve both got decent chances, but I’m not convinced they are drawn on the right side. You’d hope with two to be spread across the track, but they are in two (Montatham) and six (Sinjaari) and having walked the track, the draw could scupper them, but there’s nothing I can do about that.”
The Roger Charlton-trained Tempus bids to make it three from three for the year in the hands of Jason Watson.
A winner at Newbury in August on what was his first appearance in 10 months, the Kingman colt readily followed up at Ascot three weeks ago and carries a 4lb penalty for that victory as he goes in search of the hat-trick.
“He was a nice horse last season, but he has progressed really nicely,” said Watson.
“He had a long time off before running at Newbury and we were expecting him to need the run. He was mightily impressive at Ascot the last day and I believe he will come on for that again.
“My only concern would be the track as it is unique and not to the liking of every horse. That’s going to be the test for him as he has only really raced on nice, galloping tracks so far.
“I do think he has the class to hopefully overcome that. To me, he still has improvement left in him and the more rain that falls, the more it will help him.”
Ralph Beckett believes the demands of the race will bring out the best in Lucander, who won three times last season and opened his account for the current campaign at York last month.
Beckett said: “It was a good effort to win at York and he seems to like these big-field handicaps.
“I was always keen on the idea of the Cambridgeshire for him. The nature of the race will suit him really well.”
Sir Busker was narrowly beaten by Montatham on his penultimate start at York, before chasing home Century Dream in the Group Two Celebration Mile at Goodwood.
William Knight’s stable star must carry 9st 11lb on his return to a handicap, but connections are nevertheless hopeful he will run another big race.
Sam Hoskins, racing manager for owner Kennett Valley Thoroughbreds, said: “We’re really pleased with him at home and he’s a big horse, so he should be able to carry the weight.
“Obviously there are a lot of young improvers who we’ll have to give weight to. We’re hopefully weighted to reverse placings with Montatham from their York form. Sir Busker has since run second in a Group Two, and Montatham was second at Sandown.
“He’s in great form. It’s a big task to try to win such a prestigious handicap off a mark of 111, but you never know. He’s a highly progressive horse and we’ll keep our fingers crossed – he’ll love the fast pace.”
Other hopefuls include Roger Varian’s Fifth Position, the Andrew Balding-trained Bell Rock and Al Rufaa from John Gosden’s yard.
Of the latter, Frankie Dettori told his Sporting Index blog: “I’ve won the Cambridgeshire three times and all three times I think I had Group horses in Halling, Wissahickon and Lord North.
“We don’t know if Al Ruffa is quite as good as those yet, but I certainly hope so. He’s a three-year-old who could improve further, but he’s got plenty of weight for what he’s done so far.
“He didn’t give his best running last time and it’s a wide-open race, but he’s still lightly-raced so fingers crossed.
“We’re drawn 22 and hopefully that’s the side that’s up with the pace, because sometimes you can win your half of the race and still finish 10 lengths behind!”