The Breeders’ Cup is just under five months away, but the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races have started and the latest is the G2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot on Thursday, in which The Antarctic, Bakeel and Brave Nation bid to maintain their unbeaten status against promising opposition and book their passage to Keeneland in November.
Group 2, £110,000 ($135,000), 5f turf, 2yo
The first two-year-old race in Europe offering a ‘win-and-in’ berth at the Breeders’ Cup is the Norfolk Stakes, the opening race at Royal Ascot on Thursday over a straight five furlongs, with a free pass available for the G1 BC Juvenile Turf Sprint.
The relative lack of public form means that pedigrees are important and the standout in that respect is The Antarctic, a brother to champion sprinter and four-time G1 winner Battaash, who is unbeaten in two for the great Aidan O’Brien, a three-time winner of this race. The Antarctic has won both his races by narrow margins, most recently a short-field conditions race at Naas when despite showing his inexperience was never in danger of defeat.
Experience at Ascot can be an advantage and Bakeel won over course and distance on his debut in April, beating two previous winners in authoritative style. He is the son of a Norfolk winner in Sioux Nation, as is Brave Nation, who has a similar profile as a winner on debut, in his case clearing right away to score by six lengths at Doncaster. That was impressive and trainer Michael Bell won this race two years ago with The Lir Jet.
Another with experience at Ascot is Walbank, beaten on debut here by a well-regarded colt – subsequent winner Redemption Time three lengths further back in third – and then getting off the mark at York when making all against moderate rivals, drawing off to win by seven lengths. He is by Kodiac, sire of Wesley Ward’s high-class filly Campanelle and of Pillow Talk, the only filly in the field and the only stakes winner after getting the job done by a neck against her own sex at York last month. She takes on colts for the first time today.
York was also the stage for Thunder Moor to break his maiden, showing vast improvement from his lacklustre debut when making every yard and keeping on strongly to win by two and a half lengths. The runner-up and third have won since, albeit in lesser grade.
This is faster ground than Crispy Cat encountered when a narrow runner-up in stakes at Sandown and the Curragh, when behind Tuesday’s G2 Coventry fourth Blackbeard, but he won on good ground at Cork on debut and his stakes form is probably the best on offer in this contest.
Richard Fahey trained last year’s Norfolk Stakes winner and is represented by one of the most experienced contenders in The Ridler , although his third place in a Beverley conditions contest doesn’t leap off the page in this company.
|Horse||Jockey||Horse Racing Odds by JazzSports|
|The Antarctic||Ryan Moore||+225|
|Brave Nation||James Doyle||+800|
|Pillow Talk||Kieran Shoemark||+800|
|Crispy Cat||Silvestre De Sousa||+1600|
|Thunder Moor||Daniel Tudhope||+2000|
|Redemption Time||Adam Kirby||+2500|
|The Ridler||Paul Hanagan||+3300|
|Jungle Fever||Joe Fanning||+5000|
|My First Rodeo||Darragh Keenan||+6600|
Norfolk Stakes Betting Prediction
The Antarctic will be popular but the stakes form shown by CRISPY CAT is the best of any in this field, and he is the choice at surprisingly generous odds.
Stay tuned for the latest Breeders’ Cup Odds. Check out the World’s major Racetrack entries and don’t forget to Sign-up and get up to a 10% horse rebate. We offer the best promotions
Raise your winning opportunities with our Horse Betting Guide. We have a guide for all levels! Beginners, Intermediate Handicappers!
Follow us on Social Media for Norfolk Stakes updates!