Ante-Post Focus

Gary Nutting has a selection online for the Marsh Cup at Newbury on Saturday.

Published 17 July

WITHHOLD has taken the opposition apart on his last two starts in the northern hemisphere and may be able to repeat the dose in this weekend’s Marsh Cup at Newbury.

Roger Charlton’s hugely progressive six-year-old has not raced since breaking a blood vessel in Australia last autumn, but his record fresh for the stable is excellent and he’s also benefited from wind surgery in the interim.

Formerly trained by Charlie Hills, for whom he won a Haydock handicap off a mark of 80 three years ago, the gelding hacked up in the 2017 Cesarewitch off 87 and was similarly impressive off 99 in last season’s Northumberland Plate.

That latest victory came after an eight-month break on a scorching day at Newcastle where the Tapeta surface rode predictably slow due to the heat.

Conditions are likely to be less taxing at Newbury - even if the forecast thunderstorms materialise - and though Charlton will doubtless express his usual caution about the task his horse faces, chances are that fitness will not be a major issue.

Withhold has an 8lb higher mark to contend with but he remains relatively lightly raced for his age and it’s worth remembering that he was being considered for the Goodwood Cup this time last year.

Proven at Newbury - he made an eye-catching debut for the Beckhampton yard when third over an inadequate 1m4f in preparation for the Ces - he’s got the class and profile to make another bold return to action, especially as he had been readied for a repeat Plate bid last month until a low-grade infection caused his late withdrawal.

Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo.@horsetraderinfo

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