Hanson: Newmarket spot plays for Rockfel, Joel

September 27th, 2023

This week's three-day Cambridgeshire Meeting at Newmarket is highlighted by the eponymous handicap and a trio of historically important juvenile events on Saturday, but there are several other Group offerings sprinkled throughout the fixture. Here are a couple horses on Friday's program that I'll be taking a strong look at.

Race 3—Rockfel (G2)—10 a.m. ET

A dry forecast and a cutback from one mile to seven furlongs might help #1 Alshinfarah (10-1) score an upset in this two-year-old filly event, which dates to 1981. Alshinfarah captured her first two starts, both over seven panels, including a minor event at Haydock over males second out. She made her stakes debut earlier this month in the Prix d'Aumale (G3) at ParisLongchamp, and was beaten only a half-length after making the pace over soft ground.

As her two prior wins in Britain suggest, Alshinfarah is probably better employing stalk-and-pounce tactics. A Noble Mission half-sister to Group 2 heroine Raabihah, Alshinfarah will break widest in this field of eight and remains with upside.

Race 4—Joel (G2)—10:35 a.m. ET

Most fundamentals of handicapping would suggest steering clear of a horse returning from an excessively long layoff, especially at a short price. Still, it's exciting to see #3 Maljoom (5-2) finally return to action in this seven-furlong event. Based on the overseas betting market as of Wednesday afternoon, I would expect the price on Maljoom to drift up, which is only fair, given his absence since the 2022 Royal Ascot meet.

Winner of his first three starts, including the German 2000 Guineas (G2), Maljoom was very unlucky not to have gotten closer in the St James's Palace (G1) at the royal meeting, missing by a half-length after lacking for room on the far side rail in upper stretch. After finding a path, Maljoom came flying but ultimately ran out of real estate. 

Various setbacks have prevented him from running since, but if he is half the horse he suggested he could be last season, he warrants a look here despite the possibility of "needing one."