Baptism of fire for Mukhadram
Mukhadram faces a baptism of fire when he contests the Betfred Cambridgeshire for his first run in a handicap at Newmarket on Saturday.
Despite having only had four starts and not being seen since July, the William Haggas-trained colt is ante-post favourite to land the nine-furlong cavalry charge, being cut to 7/1 from 10/1 by Coral.
Connections are hopeful of a good run from the promising son of Shamardal, who won his first two races in the spring over a mile at Newmarket before finishing fourth to Energizer in the Group Three Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He was last seen finishing second in a six-runner conditions race at Newmarket in July.
"We haven't seen him for a bit. He got a bit of ringworm after he last ran and William had to give him a bit of a break and he's come back," said Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
"I haven't seen him for the last month, but I gather they are happy with him and he's been working well.
"We are still finding our way with him. Paul (Hanagan) rode him early in the year and said one day he'd be a really nice horse.
"I hope we are going to get him back on track and he runs a really good race.
"He's a big, scopey horse. He's bred to improve as he gets older and he always looked as though he would physically.
"Hopefully whatever he does we can keep him next year and he'll start to fulfil his potential."
Mukhadram currently has 9st to carry after Godolphin's Quick Wit was left at the head of the weights following the five-day confirmation stage.
With David O'Meara taking out Set The Trend, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Quick Wit, who picked up a 4lb penalty for his recent win at Doncaster, will carry 9st 12lb if he runs.
A definite runner is Swiftly Done, whose trainer Declan Carroll is counting down the hours to post time.
The Driffield handler has had his eyes on the big prize ever since the five-year-old won at Doncaster in June.
He endured a troubled passage last time out in the Betfred Mile at Glorious Goodwood when beaten just over three lengths into seventh.
"If the forecast for rain is right that should suit him as we know he handles testing ground well," said Carroll.
"I've been really pleased with him all season and he's been training very well since Goodwood.
"He was unlucky not to be closer in the Betfred Mile. I'm not saying he'd have won but he'd certainly have been closer.
"That form is top class. It proved to us that he's worth his place in races like this.
"I thought he'd get in off 94 so we didn't see any need to run him again to get him any more weight and this has been the plan anyway."
"I'm sure he'll get the trip, certainly the way he finished at Goodwood suggested he will."
French trainer Mikel Delzangles believes his runner Talk About has sound prospects.
"I have been very happy with him and going to Newmarket for a big handicap will be a good experience for us," he said.
"He ran very well at Deauville last time as he went from the outside to the inside and made up a lot of ground. It was a good field that day and he ran a good race.
"The step up to nine furlongs will definitely help him and they go a faster pace in England which will suit him too.
"I think he has more improvement in him but he is definitely a handicap horse - he is not going to win a Group race. He is very honest and courageous which I think you need to do well in the Cambridgeshire."
The going at Newmarket was described on Monday afternoon as being on the slow side of good.
Director of racing Michael Prosser said: "We had 13 millimetres of rainfall yesterday and by 4pm this afternoon there was an additional three millimetres.
"Tuesday and Wednesday are forecast to be windy with sunny spells and showers.
"It is currently forecast to be more settled from Thursday which is when we commence racing."
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