1:55 Symphony Group Handicap
The first of three difficult, big-field handicaps on Day 1 is a typical maximum-field York sprint handicap where they take their turn in winning. Four of the last five runnings have gone to Yorkshire-based trainers, which is no great shock as this the area’s biggest meeting and many Yorkshire-trained handicappers will have been prepared with these four days in mind. Thirteen of the 20 runners are Yorkshire-rained but the pick of those trained elsewhere is the Robert Cowell-trained Goldream who was second in this handicap last year to Bogart who also takes his chance again. Goldream is 11lb higher this year however but he arrives here off the back of a win at Ascot having previously finished second here to the probable Group-class Muthmir in what may end up being the key piece of form. In fact, Goldream has finished second on all three starts at York as he was also runner-up at the Dante Meeting last season so he clearly likes this fast course and makes each-way or place-only appeal from that point of view. The stable did us a favour when Intrisic won the 32Red Cup (Stewards’ Cup) and sprinters are their thing. Cowell also runs Free Zone who showed some kind of a return to form at Nottingham last time out when third of seven at Nottingham but not enough to think he can win a race as competitive as this. Of the other Non-Yorkshire runners, Caspian Prince was last of 15 in the Group 2 sprint a Glorious Goodwood last time so he should appreciate this drop in quality and has chances judged on three of his four previous starts. After beating Intrinsic into second in the spring, Ashpan Sam finished in midfield behind that rival in the 32Red Cup last time out, Judge N’Jury likes it here winning at York twice in 2012 off 87 and 93 and he won last time out so is in good heart but he is ten now and running off a higher mark than two years ago, B Fifty Two has to bounce back after a bad run last time and Secret Witness has been struggling since he was third here at the Dante Meeting.
Onto to the home team and a 25/1 winner at that Dante Meeting that was trumped up on this service was Monsieur Joe but he has not reproduced that form in six subsequent starts. He is one of five course-and-distance winners, the most notable being Bogart as he won this handicap 12 months ago and is off a 3lb lower mark this time having failed to make the first nine places on any of his subsequent six starts. There were some more positive signs last time out though when tenth to Muthmir here in a hot handicap and it wouldn’t be a shock of this race as been his main aim. His stablemate, York Glory, is another C/D winner but he has been very frustrating this season so no surprise they have turned to a visor for the first time for last year’s impressive Wokingham winner. He likes to sluice through the pack so whether York is perfect for him I have my doubts despite a victory here but it would not shock me if the headgear brought around a return to form as on his day he could outclass these. The headgear has to work though as he has looked sour of late. Completing the C/D winners is Line Of Reason who failed in his four-timer bid when eighth behind Muthmir here so the Handicapper may have now caught up with him.
David Barron is double-handed with Robot Boy and Magical Macey. Richard Hughes is an interesting booking for the latter but he cut no ice in two similar York sprints in May so Robot Boy is their main hope having not run a bad race in six starts this season including in two good races at Ascot last month after two wins but the Handicapper may also have caught up with him.
I prefer the David O’Meara-trained Move In Time. This stable had a great time in the handicaps at this meeting last year and their six-year-old arrives here in good form after a win at Newmarket and then a head-second to Goldream 11 days ago. Rated as high as 109 last summer, he is off 103 here and has plenty going for him. Just two three-year-olds take their chance; Tim Easterby’s See The Sun and Mark Johnston’s Peterkin. I am not a fan of Johnston at the Ebor Meeting so prefer See The Sun who won the valuable 3yo spring handicap here in June which Tim Easterby has such a good record in and we know he will have a number of handicappers trained to the minute for the Ebor Meeting. He ran well enough when a 3½l sixth to Muthmir here last time out one place ahead of Kimbrella. The top weight Mass Rally needs help from the Handicapper, Racy couldn’t follow up his Ascot win last month when only eighth of ten behind Goldream next time and Blaine beat just one home in the 32Red Cup but his blazing early speed can see him go well for a long time.
CONCLUSION - you pays your money and takes your chance in these races and hope everything clicks just right and I will suggest Move In Time (main hope), Goldream (more of an each-way type), See The Sun and Bogart as my four against the field.
2:30 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes
It’s been well over a decade since we had a winner of this Group 3 prize for 2yo colts over 7f that went on to be a high class three-year-old but we have four potentially very smart horses amongst a field of 12 for this year’s renewal including two horses who both won on their next start namely Basateen and Prince Gagarin, so they are my starting point.
Basateen heads the market at around 5/2 after he caught the eye when third on debut at the Newmarket July Meeting when a little green but ran on well from the rear having been given cover and, then in time-honoured fashion for a Hannon horse, he improved on his second start. However, he didn’t just improve, he sauntered to an 8l victory at Doncaster 24 days ago quickening up really looking every inch like he might be their second-best juvenile colt this season behind Ivawood. This will tell us whether he is up to having a crack at one of the big autumn prizes but my niggle given his tightish odds is that I don’t usually associate the Ebor Meeting with the Hannon stable. Prince Gagarin booked his place in my short list when also a promising third on debut at Newbury behind two smart types and it says plenty that rather than head for a maiden on his next start, Ed Dunlop sent him to a novice contest 19 days ago at Newmarket and he completed the job under Ryan Moore who was taking over from Adam Kirby to win in a most professional manner. It may have only been a three-runner race but the pair he defeated had both previously won a Newmarket maiden and Prince Gagarin was well supported to beat them. He reminds me of another lengthener in Elusive Pimpernel in the same ownership at the same stage of his career who finished second in the Racing Post Trophy at two and won the Craven before finishing fifth in 2000 Guineas. Moore retains the ride today.
Prince Gagarin is likely to be vying for third-favouritism with Growl as Jamaica will be pushing Basateen for favouritism for Aidan O’Brien. Third to the very smart Gleneagles on debut, he was then exceptionally well backed to win a Galway maiden in a race that Dermot Weld had won 26 times before and was responsible for the second-favourite so the strength behind Jamaica in the market that day told us he was well regarded by Ballydoyle. That is also the way it worked out in the race as Jamaica always looked like winning and put the race to bed readily and stayed on very well over the same 7f as today. As for Growl, it has been stated plenty of times that we should take note when Brian Meehan has a winning debutant as he leaves them plenty short on debut and many of his winning newcomers go on to better things so he went into many a note-book when making a successful start to his career 24 days ago at Ascot in a valuable maiden for unraced juvenile colts under Jimmy Fortune after which his trainer described him as “a proper horse”. Richard Hughes takes over today.
The Glorious Goodwood winners, Misleading and Dutch Connection, are two more contenders to treat with respect. Misleading especially as he achieved something unusual for a Glorious Goodwood maiden by winning on debut as they are usually well-contested races so previous experience normally counts for plenty and especially on a tricky course. That victory was over 6f so unlike the three leading fancies who won over 7f he has to move up in trip as does Growl. Dutch Connection also won a maiden at Glorious Goodwood when making it third time lucky so his experience was put to good use. Of more interest however was the compliment he paid to Faydhan who beat him by 6l on his previous start and tightened up for the 2000 Guineas as a consequence. I would be a little disappointed if he was good enough in what is a very good renewal this year.
I will be mighty surprised if the winner comes from the remaining half dozen which are headed by Salateen who has the same profile as Dutch Connection in that he was third and then second on his first two starts before winning a maiden on his third outing for Kevin Ryan. That victory was to the tune of 7l in beating four rivals at Chester as favourite so he has plenty more on his plate here in what looks a deep running of the Acomb. Medrano also broke his maiden tag at the third time of asking when just edging Salateen out by a head so there is little between them. Chadic also won on his third start but then got well and truly found out in a Group 2 at Glorious Goodwood. Toocoolforschool needed one less start to register a win when winning a small race at Ripon two weeks ago. Dominada and Danny O’Ruairc are still maidens after two and three runs respectively.
CONCLUSION - I have loads of time for Basateen as an individual but this is a deep running and I would have preferred a bigger price than 5/2 so, from a pure value perspective, Prince Gagarin appeals as better value at around three times a bigger price. Around 7/1 each-way will do for me.
3:05 Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes
First run in 1950, thirteen winners of the Great Voltigeur Stakes have gone on to win the St Leger so whilst the King Edward VII Stakes and Gordon Stakes are strong trials for the World’s Oldest Classic, not even they can match the recent record of the Voltigeur as a guide (‘Great’ was added to the race title in 1957) having featured as many as nine of the last 18 winners and all nine finished in the first four here – Encke being the latest two years ago. Up until 2008 only one of the previous 14 winners could not be found in the first three in the market but it has become a deal trickier to solve since then with a 28/1 winner and two successful 12/1 shots in the last six years.
The Derby runner-up, Kingston Hill, is entitled to start as clear favourite on his Epsom run and also having won last season’s Group 1 Racing Post Trophy as Group 1 form has been notable with 16 of the last 24 winners having competed at the very highest level earlier in the season. His last four starts have all been in Group 1 company whereas only three of his nine rivals have contested such a race; Snow Sky when eighth in that Racing Post Trophy, Red Galileo when fifth in the Derby and Marzocco when fifth in the Grand Prix de Paris. Kingston Hill is clearly the best horse in this race so this boils down to two questions; (1) can you forgive him an unplaced effort in the Eclipse and (2) are his odds (top priced 6/4) big enough? I can certainly forgive him not placing in the Eclipse as he was dropping back in trip and then being one of those caught out behind the 1-2-3 who were in the first three throughout whilst the jockeys of the better-fancied horses watched each other in rear. Is 6/4 value? I’m not sure, it looks about right to me. Over the last 26 years, the best two guides by a clear margin are the Derby (9 wins) so that is another positive for Kingston Hill with horses that finished 666282434 going on to win and the King Edward VII Stakes (8 wins) with Great Voltigeur winners finishing 15614233 in that Group 2 event at Royal Ascot. Snow Sky (4th) and Odeon (7th) represent the King Edward Stakes.
Of the eight winners in the last 24 years that did not contest a Group 1 earlier in the season, significantly, five of those were trained by Sir Michael Stoute including Telescope last year and another two were trained by Saeed Bin Suroor. Stoute clearly takes a different approach to this race than his rivals and, with seven victories in total, he is the Great Voltigeur’s most successful trainer four wins ahead of Bin Suroor and John Gosden of current licence holders. Stoute’s representative this season is Snow Sky who contested a Group 1 at two but not this season. After winning the Lingfield Derby Trial where he beat the re-opposing Hartnell by two lengths into second, he would have run in the Derby as around a 16/1 shot but for a late setback. I thought he appeared to find the ground too fast when fourth in the King Edward VII Stakes so I was therefore a little surprised he won the Gordon Stakes on a similar surface, especially as he was very coltish in the paddock beforehand which is never a good sign but he still overcame both of those factors three weeks ago which was a big feather in his cap. As many as ten of the last 26 winners had won a recognised Derby trial which is significant as there are only a handful of those races and Snow Sky is one of just two contenders in today’s line up to manage that feat, the other being Observational who won the Cocked Hat Stakes (Predominate Stakes). If Snow Sky had won the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes he would have been penalised here and the last ten King Edward winners to run in the Great Voltigeur all failed under a penalty. However, Group 3 winners do not have to carry a penalty and three of the last seven Group 3 Gordon Stakes winners to run here have doubled up. That day he had the surprising favourite, Observational, back in sixth of seven and Red Galileo was a tailed-off last so it is hard to see that pair reverse places. Red Galileo had previously been fifth in the Derby at 100/1 but stoutly-bred outsiders often outrun their odds at Epsom as they stay whereas some other more-fancied horses with lesser stamina genes drop away so I am sceptical of that performance.
The next best guides are the Dante Stakes with five winners, all of which finished between second-fourth on the same course back in May over a 1½f shorter trip, and the Irish Derby also with five winners but that Classic is not represented this year. Odeon finished fourth in the Dante but he also then had limitations exposed in the King Edward VII Stakes (7th) and when fourth in a Listed race at Hamilton behind Postponed. Luca Cumani lets the winner take his first step into Group 2 company today but he was beaten into third into two Group 3 races (the Craven and Tercentary Stakes) so he needs to improve again.
Aidan O’Brien may not have won this race for 11 years when Powerscourt led home a 1-2 for his stable two years after they also won with Milan, but only one of his career nine runners has finished out of the first three. His representative this time is the very lightly-raced Granddukeoftuscany having only his third start having not made his debut until June where he was sixth in a Curragh maiden. However, he learned plenty from that initial experience when making all to beat nine rivals in a Tipperary maiden by, get this, 19 lengths! Very-wide-margin winners are usually difficult to weigh up but the fact O’Brien is using his favourite St Leger trial to run him in suggests he is their number one for Doncaster so he has to be respected. It’s the win record of the yard in this race that niggles me though for such a powerful yard. O’Brien also runs Indian Maharajah who has had just one run this season when eighth as favourite for the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial over a mile so this is a big leap in faith after a poor run 143 days ago and up half a mile in distance. He was very promising as a two-year-old winning both starts at odds-on both times but Joseph O’Brien is aboard Granddukeoftuscany and there is just too much guesswork involved as to how well Indian Maharajah is before we even consider whether he will stay (his dam, Again, was a miler).
Mark Johnston’s poor record at York in general is widely known which surprises me but it is there in black and white (perhaps with this meeting his best horses have been prepared to peak for Glorious Goodwood where he has a superb record?) and he runs Hartnell who is chasing a hat-trick after winning the Queen’s Vase and Bahrain Trophy so he is stepping back down in trip here which is not ideal and that makes this one-paced but very game galloper vulnerable. He won the Queen’s Vase over 2m by staying and as the last two winners of that race (Estimate and Leading Light) then won the Gold Cup that looks like being his forte next season. I note Coral have taken a real view offering 15/2 when 6/1 is next best and I think they have got it right. In short, I don’t think Hartnell is fast enough over 1m4f at this level and Snow Sky also beat him fair and square by two lengths into second in the Lingfield Derby Trial so I am surprised that he is ahead of Snow Sky in all markets except for with Coral. Marzocco was third to Hartnell as favourite in the Queen’s Vase doing his best work late on over 2m and he completes the field. John Gosden, who has won three of the last seven runnings, has declared first-time blinkers for his colt who was also a narrow runner-up to Observational in what I still refer to as the Predominate Stakes at Goodwood in May so the blinkers will have to work for him to reverse placings with him and Hartnell.
CONCLUSION - Kingston Hill is the right clear favourite and 6/4 looks about right but Snow Sky looks a typical Stoute improver and given his profile and his trainer’s sensational record in the race he looks decent each-way value to me at a top price of 8/1. The 28/1 with Hills to win today and the St Leger is also tempting given how good a trial this race has been for Doncaster with half of the last 18 St Leger winners running here.
3:40 Juddmonte International Stakes
The inaugural running in 1972 was probably the race’s most dramatic as the Derby winner, Roberto, inflicted a shock defeat on the great older horse, Brigadier Gerard, who was unbeaten in his previous 17 races. During the first 12 years, three-year-olds led the older horses 8-4 but, in more recent times, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction with the only successes in the last 13 years for the Classic generation being achieved by the Derby winners, Authorized and Sea The Stars. In fact, only three three-year-olds have won in the last 21 years (Giant’s Causeway being the other) so the trends-based advice should be very simple then? Well, anything but, as three-year-olds have been outnumbered exactlyt 2:1 in the last two decades (106-53) and only four have run in the last five runnings (three of which in one running) and, of course, the Derby winner, Australia, has been declared and the Epsom Classic winner has a fine record in this race as you can see from above.
Before the King George last month I gave similar age stats in that older horses had been dominating of late but I also warned that a top-class three-year-old should beat a top-class older horse in the summer given the weight-for-age allowance at the time on the rare occasions when one turns up in recent years and Taghroodha certainly helped underline that argument, So, no, the recent domination of older horses will not sway me in their direction taking on a top class three-year-old in Australia on age stats alone. The fact Australia is a dual Classic winner should also not be lost in the 3yo argument as the last seven successful 3yo winners of the Juddmonte Stakes were also Classic winners (Assert, Caerleon, In The Groove, Rodrigo De Triano, Giant’s Causeway, Authorized and Sea The Stars). That said, since 1992, seven Classic winners earlier in the season have been beaten (though one was by another when Sea The Stars beat Mastercraftsman). We should not forget that the Juddmonte is an extended 1m2f (rather than 1m2f) and all bar two winners since Ezzoud in 1993 had won over or around 1m2f. Australia hasn’t been given the opportunity to do that yet so that doesn’t worry me. That stat would be more of a worry for horses stepping up in trip than down in distance though. Given the pace Australia showed to lead the near side group 2f out in the 2000 Guineas and the way he cruised to the lead in the Epsom and Irish Derby, I have to concur with most pundits who feel that this interim trip could be his optimum so I think dropping in trip will also be to his advantage. The current top price of 8/13 won’t be for most however so it may be best to look at the without-favourite market.
I am not convinced however that a drop in trip will see the second-favourite, Telescope, at his very best as he looked a real, staying, galloping 1m4f horse when he strode away with the Hardwicke finally coming of age and he was then done for foot when second in the King George, albeit to a very high class 3yo filly. As for Juddmonte winners stepping down in trip, four winners that did so stretching back to 1997 contested the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on their previous start. Of that quartet, three were beaten at Ascot and I would argue Nayef and Falbrav were certainly better over 1m2f whereas Singspiel and Duke Of Marmalade were pretty much the same horse over either distance. We don’t know for certain whether Telescope will be as good over 1m2f as 1m4f but I have a feeling he might fall a couple of pounds of shy. If the trip doesn’t bother him, then we have to ask if he can give 8lb to a Derby winner that Aidan O’Brien stated before Epsom was his best (even before he won it!) when he was beaten by as much as three lengths failing to give a weight and sex allowance to Taghroodha? Take the winner out at Ascot and he beat the re-opposing Mukhadram by a short-head with Eagle Top 1¾l back in fourth. Is that form good enough to give Australia a fright? He is in very good hands though as Stoute has won five Juddmontes in his time.
I fancy Mukhadram might be the one to give Australia most to do as feel he is the more likely of the King George-placed horses to run to his best at this trip and he only has a short-head to find with Telescope on Ascot form. Many felt the 1m4f at Ascot would stretch the Eclipse winner but he kept battling on in grand style. Yes, he got the run of the race in the Eclipse but he is a very solid 1m2f horse having placed in the Dubai World Cup, Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and last year’s Eclipse and his running style looks well suited to York where he can wind it up which is his way and he made all to win the Group 2 Skybet York Stakes on the Knavesmire last season. Going back to the Eclipse which he won, being the most recent Group 1 contest over ten furlongs many trainers view the Juddmonte as the obvious next mid-season target for chief protagonists from the Eclipse and, of the last ten Eclipse winners to line up for the Juddmonte, six completed the double (Ezzoud, Halling (x2), Giant’s Causeway, Falbrav and Sea The Stars) and the other four finished second or third. It is also worth noting than the Eclipse runner-up went one place better here in 2006 and 2007. Mukhadram was also fourth in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and six of the last 12 Juddmonte winners contested that Group 1 race over a similar trip at Royal Ascot and, interestingly, five of those six winners could only finish fourth or fifth, like Mukhadram.
What was once a race for shocks has been anything but lately and all 20 winners since Ezzoud won at 28/1 have started at no bigger than 8/1 (15 of which started favourite or second-favourite), so this has very much become a punter’s race which was far from always being the case. The Grey Gatsby, Arod and the pacemaker for Australia, Kingfisher, should all start at double-figure prices and are hard to fancy on that evidence. Given that The Grey Gatsby won the Dante here where he had the subsequent Derby fourth, Arod, just under a length back in second and then added the French Derby and is Yorkshire-trained, I can see each-way money for him on the course. On a line through the Derby fourth though, he has a mountain to climb to beat Australia and I thought he got a great ride to win the Dante by Ryan Moore in a tactical affair. I can’t see this being as tactical though as it is likely that Mukhadram will wind this up from some way out. I also thought the runner-up in the French Derby should have won but he met trouble and was given too much to do. Arod was given a quiet ride in the Dante on his seasonal debut so it wouldn’t surprise me if he reversed placings with The Grey Gatsby having since finished fourth in the Derby and winning a small race at Leicester to help with his confidence.
CONCLUSION - Australia should win if you go along with me that a top-class 3yo receiving weight is favoured over the top older horses during the summer so I won’t be looking to oppose him. He is also took skinny for my liking so, instead, I like Mukhradam in a betting without Australia market to turn Ascot form around with Telescope over this trip and he is likely to start second-favourite in this market.
4:20 Fine Equinity Handicap
Seventeen have been declared for this staying handicap over 2m for horses aged 4+ and I like to concentrate on the younger, more progressive stayers over these kind of trips. The last five winners were aged four or five so I would struggle to support the two eight-year-olds, Saptapadi (one win in 35 starts) and Itlaaq (a narrow C/D winner last time out for Mick Easterby and just 2lb higher). Brian Ellison trains the first-named and he also runs two more ageing types in Streets Of Newyork (7) and Knightly Escapade (6). Not content with that, he is five-handed as he also runs his five-year-olds, Edge Of Sanity, who was a progressive handicapper for Jim Bolger but was a disappointing eighth on his first start for Ellison at the Shergar Cup 11 days ago and the useful dual purpose contender, Totalize, with Megan Carberry claiming 7lb. She was also aboard when winning a handicap here in June before finishing seventh in the Northumberland Plate.
More interesting are Spacious Sky and Dolphin Village. The most fascinating runner is Spacious Sky who Tony Martin sends over from Ireland and has booked Kieren Fallon who rode Itlaaq to victory last time out and it would take something for him to get off a Mick Easterby-trained, last-time-out York winner at the Knavesmire again. We last saw him at the Galway Festival finishing fifth in a big field handicap hurdle having finished fourth behind his handicap good-thing stablemate, Quick Jack, in a Flat handicap at the same meeting earlier in the week. The most in-form runner is Dolphin Village chasing a hat-trick for Richard Fahey after victories over 1m4f at Thirsk off 78 and Leicester off 82 and he now runs off 86 in a much better race over an extra half-mile so this is a much stiffer task. Quest For More and Gambol are also in-form alternatives. Quest For More hung in first-time blinkers when second at Ffos Las last time out after winning at Doncaster so he does not look straightforward and is also up half a mile in trip so Gambol appeals more. Runner-up on his last two starts over 1m6f after winning at Doncaster, Barry Hills’ charge shapes as if this extra 2f is what he wants.
The top weight is Statutory for Saeed Bin Suroor who has not been shaping like a winner waiting to happen on his last three starts, two of which were at York, so he is not for me and neither are Sir Frank Morgan and Number One London for the same reason and Big Thunder has to settle much better than at the Shergar Cup meeting. More interesting is Lady Kashaan for Alan Swinbank whose career best run was over 2m in April and this is only her second attempt at the trip having been running over 1m6f since and any cut in the ground would also be in her favour. Bantam has the considerable services of Ryan Moore to draw upon and also makes some appeal. Beaten less than 2l in a Shergar Cup race 11 days ago over 1m4f, she will need to improve for the step up in trip but as she is a big filly there is every chance she will enjoy this galloping track and be able to use her stride properly here. Eagle Rock’s York profile also makes him worthy of each-way consideration. Two wins and two seconds from 11 starts here is a decent return and he was fifth in this race last year off a 6lb lower mark than today.
CONCLUSION - Spacious Sky is certainly the most intriguing runner but that is likely to be factored into his price. I like Bantam’s each-way chance now she has a big, long home straight to show off her stride and also like another filly in the shape of Lady Kashaan.
4:55 Stanjames.com Nursery Handicap
A maximum field of 20 for the finale, a nursery over 6f featuring as many as nine last-time-out winners so competitive doesn’t even begin to describe this and five of the last six winners have started at double-figure odds so don’t be afraid to chance an outsider or two. Six of the last nine renewals have been won by Yorkshire-based trainers but the horse I like most is the Jamie Osborne-trained Prize Exhibit under a 6lb penalty for a 9 lengths’ win at Nottingham under hands and heels last week. Wide-margin wins are hard to evaluate but if that performance was as good as it looked, it is not hard to see why they want to run her again under a 6lb penalty rather than after the Handicapper has reassessed him. The chances are she was flattered to an extent as she was held up into a headwind but she appeals as the type to travel strongly when sat in with cover in a big field and the resulting fast pace so hopefully she is an ideal Jamie Spencer ride. The application of a hood has worked wonders for her calming her to the extent that she has won two of her three starts since it was applied.
Skipping through the eight other winners last time out; Mattmu has top weight but no winner has carried over 9st 4lb in the last decade but his stable have won this twice in the last nine years, Izzthatright has a 6lb penalty for winning by 7l at Catterick last time out and the Fahey yard won this race two years ago, Felix Lieter is also penalised and chasing a hat-trick after bolting up by 5l at Nottingham, Burnt Sugar is the Hannon-Hughes representative who bumped into useful horses on his first two starts when second both times before a long odds-on win, Typhoon Season looks the yard’s second string despite a win at Windsor and Fallon has been booked, Roossey has improved in all three starts for William Haggas scoring narrowly at Ripon, Polarisation only had three rivals to beat at Ayr at odds-on and Uptight won his only start at Nottingham for Kevin Ryan who won this race in 2010. Of those, Roossey makes most appeal as I fancy that he will improve again.
Of the beaten horses last time out, the pair that make most appeal are Dark Profit and Geordie George. Dark Profit will shorten up if Misleading goes close in the Acomb Stakes having finished third to him at Glorious Goodwood and he is off a low weight for a horse with a Group 1 entry (Vincent O’Brien National Stakes). He was only beaten a length by Mattmu at Haydock in July and is now 15lb better off with the top weight. Geordie George has his nursery debut after finishing third to the subsequent Princess Margaret Stakes winner, Osaila, at Doncaster.
CONCLUSION - if forced to make a shortlist I’ll take Prize Exhibit, Dark Profit, Roossey and Geordie George.