European Spring Racing Raiders 2020

Michael Kruse / 11 October 2018

Last Updated on 28 January 2020

European Raiders – ones to watch out for

Some of these horses flew out of Britain on Friday (12th Oct), and will be in quarantine until the 27th (Cox Plate day). Latrobe, Magic Circle, Muntahaa, Rostropovich and Marmelo.


Timeform Rating: 123

This four-year-old stallion is trained by Saeed Bin Suroor for Godolphin and is already the owner of two Group 1’s. But it could easily have been three Group 1’s if not for fellow British raider Blair House who prevailed in the Jebel Hatta over 1800m at Meydan (UAE) back in March.

Over the Northern Hemisphere summer, Benbatl had three visits to the races (all Group 1’s), picking up a victory in Germany over 1600m in a comparatively weak field. He’ll be lining up this Saturday in the Caulfield Stakes in what looks like a very competitive race. From there, we’ll get a gauge as to how he’ll fare in his major mission this Spring: a date with Winx in three weeks time.

15 Starts, 7 wins, 2 placings
Distances won: 1408m, 1800m (3), 2004m, 2012m
Group Races: Group 1, 8 starts, 3 wins, 1 second
Track Condition Prefer: Good

Cliffs of Moher

Timeform Rating: 114

He hasn’t been on a racetrack since early July, but Irish stallion Cliffs of Moher is definitely a horse with the pedigree. Trained by the great Aidan O’Brien, this bloke has raced in world-class company, running second in his three-year-old season in the English Derby (placing ahead of Cracksman), and finishing behind Talismanic in last year’s Breeders Cup (on Turf) at Del Mar. This year he travels to Australia instead of the USA.

The Irish galloper will be lining up in this Saturday’s WFA feature, the 2000m Caulfield Stakes, for which a cracking field has been assembled including fellow British raiders Benbatl and Blair House. O’Brien is aiming for the cups double, the longer distances shouldn’t be a concern, his charge having raced three times over 2400m already.

Many of the European arrivals land in Australia with big reputations, no Group 1 successes under their belt, nor have they run a 3200m race. Cliffs of Moher is one of those.

Regardless, horses like this are trained to run in these big races, and if Rekindling can win a Melbourne Cup, there’s no reason to suggest that Cliffs of Moher can’t do likewise.

15 Starts, 3 wins, 4 placings
Distances won: 1408m, 2011m, 2075m
Group Races: Group 1, 9 starts, 2 seconds, 1 third, 3 fourths
Track Condition Prefer: Good


Timeform Rating: 114

Here’s a lightly raced Irish colt out of the Joseph O’Brien stable. Seeing as O’Brien’s Melbourne Cup winner from last year Rekindling is not turning up this year, the hope is that Latrobe can pick up where his stablemate left off.

He was a winner of the Group 1 Irish Derby (14/1), defeating the hot-shot Saxon Warrior, just one win after breaking maiden ranks.

Maybe it’s too early to tell whether this horse can go as well as Rekindling, who, as we remember, just turned up as cold as ice in his first start in Australia and came away with the spoils and promptly left again without raising a sweat.

Latrobe has pedigree on his side, with his sire Camelot (a former Aidan O’Brien horse) being a four-time Group 1 winner. Maybe he can follow in his Dad’s hoof-steps?

7 Starts, 2 wins, 4 placings
Distances won: 2414m (2)
Group Races: Group 1, 2 starts, 1 win, 1 second
Track Condition Prefer: Good


Timeform Ranking: 113

The three-year-old colt Rostropovich is a stablemate of Cliffs of Moher, with the Aidan O’Brien stable over in Ireland.

He’s by Frankel and has nominations for the W.S Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup. Rostropovich was placed second behind Latrobe in the Irish Derby (25/1) and has been in work since April with sporadic races right up until about three weeks ago winning at Leopardstown.

This guy might fly under the radar, so for those interested punters, check out his British form on YouTube to base your calculated opinion.

12 Starts, 4 wins, 4 placings
Distances won: 1408m (2), 2075m, 2414m
Group Races: Group 1, 4 starts, 1 second, 1 third, 1 fifth, 1 ninth
Track Condition Prefer: Good, Soft

Magic Circle

Timeform Rating: 109

This six-year-old gelding is definitely the proven stayer of the British raiders for 2018. He’s won eight races, all of them over 2400m, the furthermost being 3749m. Trained by Ian Johnson from Alvechurch, which is on the southern outskirts of Birmingham, this bloke looks like a dour type, ideal for a race like the Melbourne Cup.

Having won on Good to Soft track conditions (Good 4 through to Soft 5), I doubt Melbourne will be providing British weather conditions to suit. If he does get rain, he’ll be right in contention.

Magic Circle is by the sire Makfi, who also boasts recently retired mare Bonneval as part of the progeny, along with former gun two-year-old Make Believe.

Two times winning Melbourne Cup jockey Corey Brown caught the early worm and signed up quickly to book the ride on the stayer.

It will be interesting to see where Magic Circle lines up on the scale of acceptors when the first declarations for the Cup are made on Tuesday 9th October.

21 Starts, 8 wins, 2 placings
Distances won: 2414m, 2615m, 2937m, 3259m, 3264m, 3269m, 3299m, 3749m
Group Races: Group 1, none
Track Condition Prefer: Good to Soft

Count Octave – Scratched

(Unfortunately pulled up lame during track-work)

Timeform Rating: 105

This four-year-old stallion by Frankel comes into Melbourne Cup calculations due to winning form over 2400m, which is always a good attribute when looking at the form leading into October and November. Most noteworthy is that he’ll be staying on in Australia after the Spring, and will take up occupancy with the star-studded Chris Waller stable.

Probably the race which bought him into calculations for his Australian adventure was running second to Europe’s best stayer Stradivarius in the recent running of the Lonsdale Cup (3319m) at York back on August 24th. On that day he carried 58.5 kg. A mammoth assignment.

If you’re looking for a stayer in the mould of Latrobe and Magic Circle, then add this bloke to the triumvirate. He could be something special.

11 Starts, 2 wins, 6 placings
Distances won: 2459m, 2460m
Group Races: Group 1, 1 sixth
Track Condition Prefer: Good

Hamada – Scratched

(Unfortunately Hamada had to be euthanised after a track-work injury)

Timeform Rating: 107

Exciting four-year-old gelding Hamada hails from the Godolphin stable of Charlie Appleby. The Newmarket-based trainer has already tasted success in Australia this season with Jungle Cat taking out the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes last month. Maybe Hamada can add to the tally, as he has not been out of the placings in seven starts. Furthermore, his last four have been wins.

He’s been in work since April this year after previously being away from the track for 18 months.

Hamada looks like a real prospect for the Melbourne Cup, and it will be interesting to see if he lines up in a preliminary race somewhere between now and November.

Also, my guess is that one of either James Doyle, William Buick or Jamie Spencer will get the nod to pilot this horse, such are his chances.

7 Starts, 5 wins, 2 placings
Distances won: 2017m, 2384m, 2460m, 2671m, 2816m
Group Races: Group 1, none
Track Condition Prefer: Good

Best Solution

Timeform Rating: 116

This is the Godolphin trained Best Solution, from the Newmarket stable of Saeed Bin Suroor, a stablemate of Benbatl.

Best Solution brings some solid recent form, with three wins from three in his new prep which began back in July. Consequently, two of those wins were Group 1’s in England and Germany, both over 2400m.

Certainly can’t knock the form, but somehow, judging by the early betting predictions on Betfair, he appears to be down the pecking order compared to others. Because of that, we shouldn’t unfairly dismiss his chances.

21 Starts, 8 wins, 5 placings
Distances won: 1207m, 1609m, 2334m, 2414m (4), 2435m
Group Races: Group 1, 7 starts, 2 wins, 2 seconds, 2 fifths, 1 eighth
Track Condition Prefer: Good, Soft

Cross Counter

Timeform Ranking: 115

Another of the Charlie Appleby brigade is the three-year-old gelding Cross Counter. He finished second at his last start in the Great Voltigeur Stakes back on the 22nd August behind stablemate Old Persian.

Consequently, his performance in that race seems to have given his credentials a huge boost, given all the pre-Cup discussion going on in Australia and all the early market indicators.

However, I think we would all prefer him to have a run sometime in the next few weeks to assess his form. Sure to be in the black book of many punters.

7 Starts, 4 wins, 2 placings
Distances won: 1739m, 1905m, 2405m, 2412m
Group Races: Group 1, none
Track Condition Prefer: Good


Timeform Rating: 109

Muntahaa is the grey five-year-old from the Newmarket stable of John Gosden. Muntahaa comes into absolute reckoning after his impressive win in the Ebor Handicap, Britain’s richest race that isn’t group listed.

Certainly, serious punters rate the Ebor as a reliable guide toward the Melbourne Spring Carnival, particularly after last years winner Nakeeta finished an admirable fifth to Rekindling in the 2017 Melbourne Cup.

Furthermore, some early punters are even picking this guy to be well up in the pecking order by November. Besides, who doesn’t like a grey racehorse? Chautauqua anyone?

15 Starts, 4 wins, 5 placings
Distances won: 2414m, 2418m, 2696m, 2787m
Group Races: Group 1, 1 fourth
Track Condition Prefer: Good, Soft

Michael Kruse
Michael loves all things all horse racing and has been in the game for quite some time. His knowledge in the betting space is second... [Read full bio]

Comments are closed.

What are you prepared to lose today? Set a deposit limit.

For free and confidential support call 1800 858 858 or visit