This looks a decent renewal of the Norfolk Stakes, for all it is more about potential than anything achieved so far with the majority of the field. Mick Channon's Cay Verde can boast the best form of these, his maiden form alone by far the strongest of anything in the field having finished fifth behind Englishman in a 5f maiden at Newbury that has worked out exceptionally well, then he accounted for Tuesday's Windsor Castle winner Hototo when landing a course and distance maiden in impressive fashion. He followed up in the Listed Marble Hill Stakes over at the Curragh, racing up with the pacesetters from the outset and disputing for much of the way until taking over going comfortably over a furlong out, shaken up entering the final furlong and keeping on well to hold off Dylanburu to score by ¾ length. This colt is very much one of the more exciting juvenile prospects seen out so far this year, contesting perhaps the best juvenile maiden on debut and then seeing off a smart sort next time here; his latest victim finished third behind that colt in the Windsor Castle here on Tuesday, and everything points to this son of Piccolo going very well here under Australian rider Craig Williams, who had such a happy association with the yard back in 2000/2001. However, it could well be that the David Barron-trained AHERN (NAP) has the most potential of all of these, the son of Dutch Art making a winning start to his career in the same 5f conditions contest at Musselburgh the smart Frederick Engels won en route to victory at this meeting 12 months ago, the difference being that this colt did so on his debut against previous winners. He was unsurprisingly a bit slow into stride, recovering to race in behind the leaders but showing signs of inexperience throughout, ridden over a furlong out and switched to deliver his challenge approaching the final furlong, forging clear inside the final furlong to see off Satsuma by 2½ lengths. It was a hugely impressive display from a newcomer against winners (also clocked a very respectable time for a debutant), for all it could be said that the two market leaders underperformed, able to overcome a tardy start and greenness before forging clear; looks a well above average prospect on that evidence, and it wouldn't at all surprise to see this son of Dutch Art maintain his unbeaten record with victory here. The Richard Hannon trained Mister Marc made a winning start to his career when making a winning debut in the same 6f maiden at Goodwood in May that his yard won with the high-class Trumpet Major 12 months previously, and he didn't disgrace himself at all when giving Tuesday's Coventry Stakes winner Dawn Approach a scare in the a Listed contest over 6f at Naas a week or so later, unable to go with that one inside the final furlong and coming home 2¾ lengths adrift at the line. Obviously that defeat doesn't look so bad in light of what his conqueror did on Tuesday, and he showed good speed on that occasion when attempting to make all, so perhaps the step back in distance will suit; however, it is a little surprising that Richard Hughes has decided to desert him for another. Stablemate Annunciation is the choice of the stable jockey, and it isn't too hard to see why after this son of Proclamation showed blistering speed to land a 5f contest at Windsor last time, making all and only having to be shaken up to draw clear of Emirates Echo record a 6 length margin of victory. His two seconds in maidens prior to that were respectable efforts, though he was put in his place by the re-opposing Reckless Ambition despite having the advantage of experience over that one; also, the fact that the runner-up from his Windsor victory was soundly beaten in a Bath maiden yesterday hardly does a lot for the form, and it still remains something of a surprise that the Hannon team didn't opt to send Coventry fourth Sir Prancelot here. The Roger Varian-trained Morawij is a son of Exceed And Excel who had always been thought of as a potential Royal Ascot 2yo, and he didn't disappoint when landing the odds in a 6f maiden at Haydock last month, in touch behind the leaders and ridden to challenge over a furlong out, leading entering the final furlong and showing a good attitude under pressure to see off Fraserburgh by a neck. It wasn't a flashy performance by any means, but the race is starting to work out fairly well (fourth and fifth winners next time out) and this colt had to overcome clear signs of inexperience to get the better of a rival with previous experience; obviously shown enough speed at home for connections to bypass the Coventry (bred for speed). The Clive Cox-trained Reckless Abandon is a son of Exchange Rate who looked all about speed when making a winning debut at the expense of Annunciation in a 5f auction maiden at Doncaster a month ago, showing good speed from the outset and holding a definite advantage at halfway, last off the bridle and quickening clear impressively approaching the final furlong, drifting left over to the far side rail as he did so but always holding on to score comfortably by 2 lengths. It was a visually taking performance from this colt, quickening clear approaching the furlong marker and having enough in hand to be able to hang over to the far side rail; clearly a colt of immense potential based on that debut display, but the stable form has to be the main concern heading into this (just two winners from over 70 runners in the past two months) though it didn't stop him making a winning debut last month.
A fascinating renewal of the Ribblesdale which sees three of the first four home in the Epsom Oaks renew rivalries (seventh and ninth also line-up), but it must be remembered that fillies that come to this race from that Classic have notoriously poor records (week longer period between these two races this year, though), and there are a couple in the field who actually beat the first two home in that contest who come here off the back of a longer break. Doing best of all at Epsom a fortnight ago was the Hughie Morrsion-trained Shirocco Star, finishing second behind Was and building on a narrow defeat in the Swettenham Stud Trial at Newbury the previous month, when just failing to overhaul the re-opposing Momentary. It has to be said that she didn't endure the nightmare passage one or two others suffered at Epsom, for all she did do well to see things out having taken a keen hold earlier when looking for cover; had a hard race there, and she may struggle to confirm placings with The Fugue on this occasion. The aforementioned The Fugue was perhaps the hard luck story of the Oaks, the John Gosden-trained daughter of Dansili racing freely without cover and then being squeezed out as the field stacked up on account of the slow pace, poorly placed at the top of the straight and staying on well to finish third behind Was. Perhaps she would have won without being hampered early on, finishing off well down the outer to get to within under a length of the winner; dam finished a close second in this in 2005, and this filly prior to her third-place finish in the Oaks had finished fourth in the 1000 Guineas and won the Musidora in ultra-impressive fashion; ought to go very well if fully over those Epsom exertions. The third filly to make the frame at Epsom coming here is the William Haggas-trained Vow, a Motivator half sister to high-class pair Beaten Up and Harris Tweed who came from an impossible position to make a winning debut in a 10f fillies' maiden at Newbury in April, following that with a convincing win over Colima in the Lingfield Oaks Trial despite hanging across the track. She ran a very good race in defeat in the Oaks itself, bearing in mind her relative inexperience and the fact it was her third run in just a couple of months; like Shirocco Star, she enjoyed a smooth passage and did have any real excuses, close to the action from the off and holding every chance from two furlongs out, attempting to challenge the winner approaching the final furlong but proving one paced and fading back into fourth. She was still only beaten a little under two lengths in the end, and it is highly unlikely that she has reached the full limit of her potential just yet; however, it was her second hard race of the season already, having been stoked up a long way out to get up to make a winning debut on bad ground, but there wasn't a lot between her, Shirocco Star and The Fugue last time, and it is likely to be a case of who bounces back best from the rigours of Epsom. However, a filly who didn't compete in the Oaks but who has strong form-ties to the winner of that race is the Dermot Weld-trained PRINCESS HIGHWAY, daughter of the 2002 winner of this race who won a 10f Group 3 contest Naas a little over a month ago when Was finished a soundly held third, albeit it was that rival's first run back for a while. Was aside, it was a win that confirmed this filly to be an extremely smart middle distance filly, following up a convincing winner over the smart Betterbetterbetter in a 10f fillies' maiden at Leopardstown towards the beginning of the season. She hasn't had the hard race that the quintet of fillies coming here from the Oaks have had, and her victory last time with the winner of that race back in third leaves here with little to find on form; bred to relish this trip and shaped as though she will stay during both wins this term, and no surprise to see her emulate her dam and secure a hat trick of victories here. Kailani is a daughter of 1000 Guineas/Oaks heroine Kazzia who confirmed the promise of her debut win last autumn by returning with a bang in the 10f Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on Guineas weekend, clearly relishing the rain-softened ground as she put 7 lengths between herself and the rest of the field. Her run in the Oaks is probably best ignored, one of many in the race to find trouble in running at some stage and then looking all at sea on the track once asked for her effort, though she did stay on in encouraging style throughout the final furlong to take seventh; would need the rain to come. Colima looked a promising sort when making a smooth winning debut at Nottingham last backend, and she finishing off her race strongly from a poor position when second to Vow in the Lingfield Oaks Trial; however, she disappointed in the main event and failed to build on the promise of that comeback run, without any real excuses and finishing ninth behind Was. The Michael Bell-trained Momentary is a royally owned-bred daughter of Nayef who shaped with a good deal of promise in a 10f fillies' maiden at Newbury back in April, and she duly showed the benefit of that experience and more to land the Swettenam Stud Trial over the same course and distance the following month, leading well over a furlong out and finding plenty for pressure inside the final furlong to hold off the late challenge of Shirocco Star to score by a short head. The runner-up's subsequent second place in the Oaks makes this filly's achievement of beating her as a maiden on just her second start all the more better, and she is bred to relish the extra couple of furlongs she tackles here; wholly unexposed sort open to any amount of improvement.
Selection: Princess Highway
Alternative: The Fugue
3.45 GOLD CUP (CLASS 1) (GROUP 1) (4YO+) - 2m 4f
Showcase event of the meeting, and Fame And Glory bids to defend his crown following his 3 length win over Opinion Poll in this 12 months ago. He blotted his copybook somewhat when a very disappointing fourth in the Irish St Leger in September of last year, but bounced back in style to confirm himself as the best stayer around when landing the Long Distance Cup back here at the Champions meeting the following month, again proving too good for old rival Opinion Poll. He kicked off his current campaign with a narrow victory over the racefit Unaccompanied in the Listed Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan over 1m 6f last month, which should have put him spot on for this; not hard to envisage another big run from him here. However, he may find fellow Irish challenger SADDLER'S ROCK too good on this occasion. The John Oxx-trained four-year-old announced himself as a future top stayer when landing the Doncaster Cup last September, taking a while to warm up and coming under a ride sooner than most but finding his stride over two furlongs out, switched right and coming with a strong challenge approaching the final furlong to lead entering the final furlong and pull 4 lengths clear of Opinion Poll. He made a pleasing return to action in atrocious conditions at Leopardstown a couple of weeks ago in the Listed Saval Beg Stakes over 1m 6f, finding only in-form mare Midnight Soprano too good for him on ground that wouldn't have suited him, keeping on all the way to the line to come home half a length adrift at the line. He should be all the sharper for that run, and the extra distance on better ground here (rain forecast, but unlikely to be anywhere near as bad as it was last time) will see him in a much better light; he remains thoroughly unexposed in this division and could improve past the lot of them to give John Oxx and Johnny Murtagh their second winner together in this race after Enzeli in 1999. Opinion Poll confirmed himself as one of the leading stayers around last year with wins in the Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup as well as chasing home Fame And Glory home in both this race and also the Long Distance Cup here. He made a winning return to action in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown three weeks ago in smooth fashion, travelling powerfully throughout and soon settling the issue once asked for his effort entering the final furlong to score by 2¾ lengths. However, he is held by both Fame And Glory and Saddler's Rock on their meetings last year, for all the latter was receiving over a stone in weight from this horse at Doncaster; interesting that Frankie Dettori has deserted him despite the ease with which he won at Sandown last month. That can only be a good thing for the Saeed Bin Suroor trained Colour Vision, a thoroughly progressive stayer for Mark Johnston last year who won the Phil Bull Trophy over 2m 2f at Pontefract, following that up with excellent runs in defeat in the Cesarewitch and then here when third behind Fame And Glory and Opinion Poll in the Long Distance Cup on his first foray into pattern company. He looked better than ever on his return for new connections when landing the Sagaro Stakes, transferred to Kempton this on account of the weather causing the abandonment of this year's meeting here; broke slowly and was waited with at the back of the field, shaken along and scything through the field passing the two furlong marker to soon lead, going readily to clear to win by an eased down 1½ lengths from Melbourne Cup second/Yorkshire Cup winner Red Cadeaux. It was a most taking performance from this son of Rainbow Quest, announcing himself as one of the major players in this staying division, readily accounting for a very smart performer who went on to land the Yorkshire Cup on his next start; Dettori selects him over Opinion Poll, with whom he has very little to find on their running here last autumn, and he is another with untapped potential at this distance. Neeham is a smart stayer who has run several good races in defeat, the best of them coming when fourth behind Fame And Glory, Opinion Poll and Colour Vision in the Long Distance Cup here last October on Champions day. However, he ran below his best when a well-held third behind Hawaafez in the Listed contest at Newbury on his return, and his overall profile suggests that he is likely to come up short at this level. The Mark Johnston-trained Gulf Of Naples is a progressive stayer who signed off his three-year-old career with a couple of victories in handicaps at Doncaster and Newmarket, and he kicked off the current campaign with an excellent second to Thimaar in the Queen's Prize at Kempton (pair well clear). He went one better at Ripon next time and then ran a creditable race in defeat when third from a wide draw in the Chester Vase; seemed to find the step back to 1m 6f against him when third behind Cavalryman in a Listed contest at York last time and though he does need to pull out a career best to even make the frame here, he could well improve for the step up to this marathon and sneak a place if one or two underperform for whatever reason.
Selection: Saddler's Rock
Alternative: Colour Vision
4.25 BRITANNIA HANDICAP (CLASS 2) (0-105) (3YO) - 1m
The Britannia is always a hugely competitive handicap which is notoriously hard to solve, and this year's favourite looks likely to be the William Haggas-trained Fast Of Free, who followed up a maiden win at Kempton over 7f by winning a well-contested 1m handicap at Newmarket (July) 12 days from an opening mark of 80, travelling nicely close to the action and leading approaching the final furlong, staying on well to see off Takeitfromalady by 1½ lengths. That rival didn't do a lot for that form when beaten last weekend, and this colt is now up 7lbs for that success; however, he is wholly unexposed and has shown he can act with cut in the ground, which could be a major asset if the forecast rain arrives and softens the ground up. Another colt with an unexposed profile is the Roger Charlton-trained TRADER JACK (NB), a son of Trade Fair who built on a most encouraging debut run to land a heavy-ground 1m median auction maiden at Ffos Las virtually on the bridle. He was too free appalling conditions in the Esher Cup at Sandown in April on his return to action, and duly confirmed that to be all wrong when return to action in a good 10f handicap at Goodwood last month, failing to settle fully once again but travelling into the race nicely and drawing clear with Grandeur inside the final furlong, finding that one too strong in the closing stages as he came home 2¼ lengths adrift at the line. His failure to settle early probably blunted his finishing effort, though his conqueror went on to run an excellent race in defeat in a valuable handicap off 96 whilst the fifth came out and won a decent contest last weekend off a mark of 84, so the form looks rock solid; step back to 1m should suit him well, and a strong pace in this big field will allow him to settle better; remains with significant potential and no surprise to see him go very well here; shown he handles a sound surface and also rain-softened ground. The Clive Cox-trained Forest Row is a Cockney Rebel half brother to very smart globetrotter Presvis who really caught the eye on his debut last spring at Newbury, finishing off strongly from a long way back having been slow to get into stride. His only other run at two came five months later back at the same venue over six and a half furlongs, proving disappointing as he finished fifth; however, he bounced back in style on his seasonal reappearance in a 1m maiden back at the same track in April, racing in behind the pacesetters until ridden to lead passing the two furlong marker, forging clear inside the final furlong to come home 2¾ lengths clear of Lucanin. The softer ground clearly suited this gelding, belatedly building on his promising debut run and seeing out the mile without any problems whatsoever; form of that race doesn't look anything out of the ordinary as things stand, and a mark of 88 looks high enough given that face, but another unexposed sort who looks open to significant improvement; any rainfall would be welcome. Frog Hollow brings some good handicap form to the table, making the frame in a couple of 1m contests at Newmarket on 2000 Guineas day and then in the Silver Bowl at Haydock last time off the same mark, noted as doing all his best work late on both occasions; races off the same mark once again here, and rainfall would only serve to further enhance his chances here, doing well to finish as close as he did last time on very quick ground; wears blinkers for the first time. The Tim Easterby-trained Chapter Seven is another with solid handicap form coming into this, getting off the mark on his seasonal reappearance with victory in a 1m handicap at Musselburgh in April when coming with a good late run to collar Evervescent to score by a neck. He came up short in a valuable sales contest over 10f at Newmarket a couple of weeks later, and his run in the Silver Bowl next time can be forgotten as he was the chief sufferer after the winning hung badly when delivering his challenge, for all he was seemingly held at the time. He bounced back to form last time when landing a well-contested 1m handicap at Doncaster on rain-softened ground, waited with in rear and denied a clear run when looking to start his challenge two furlongs out (travelling well at the time), switched left but tightened up again when hitting full flow entering the final furlong, staying on strongly once the gap opened fully to get up in the dying strides and score by ¾ length from Well Painted. He did exceptionally well to win at all considering he was twice denied a clear run, the second of them actually inside the final furlong; difficult to know what to make of that form given that the first two in the market finished second last and last and the fact one or two were impeded by another hanging off a true line, but this gelded hardly had things go his way and still won; up 4lbs for that, but likely there is still improvement left in him and is another that will be far from inconvenienced by rain. The Michael Bell-trained Born To Surprise is a well-regarded colt who built successfully on a second-place finish on debut to land a 7f maiden at Doncaster on the opening weekend of the season, doing so impressively, making good progress from the rear to lead over a furlong out and quickened clear to run out an impressive 5 length winner from Star Date. He was very highly tried on his only other start since when finishing eighth in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket, completely the missing the break and not able to show his true worth, making some progress but never seriously involved and not knocked about once held inside the final furlong. He hasn't been seen since and this is an extremely competitive race in which to return, but he remains with the potential to do a lot better after just three career outings and was very impressive in winning his maiden; potential dark horse of the race, though the prospect of rain probably wouldn't do his chances any good. John Dunlop's Nawwaar has a similar sort of profile to that of Born To Surprise, this son of Distorted Humor doing well to win a 7f maiden at Glorious Goodwood last summer after overcoming all sorts of trouble in running, but he failed to make any real impression when finishing eighth behind Tell Dad in the Group 3 Horris Hill at Newbury nearly three months later. He is probably best not too harshly judged on that, and the form of his maiden win at Goodwood worked out pretty nicely; has missed several potential entries on account of the wet weather and wouldn't want too much rain, but of even more concern is the form of the yard, sending out just two winners so far this year and none so far this month.
This is always an interesting race which brings together a mixture of improving handicappers, maiden winners, minor winners and those stepping back in grade having come up short at a higher level. The Sir Henry Cecil-trained Wrotham Heath has always been extremely well regarded by top connections, and he put behind a slightly disappointing debut run to win next time out in a 1m maiden at Nottingham on slow ground, travelling strongly throughout and forging clear once shaken up to score by 6 lengths. He found only subsequent Dante runner-up Ektihaam too good on his return in a 10f conditions race at Newbury, and shaped like a non-stayer when sixth in a 12f handicap at Newmarket next time (travelled best for a long way); returned to winning ways in style when landing a 10f handicap at Epsom on Derby day off a mark of 96 in the style of one destined for bigger things, travelling powerfully throughout and staying on well throughout the final furlong to hold off Grandeur by a neck. This is obviously a jump in class, but one he has earned off the back of that impressive win in an above average handicap last time; showed last time that he doesn't need cut in the ground (does have a pronounced knee action), but any rainfall wouldn't exactly be unwelcome and surprising if this colt wasn't involved in some capacity. Stablemate Stipulate made the frame in a pair of Listed Races at two, and made a winning return to action when showing a smart turn of foot to quickly put a seal on matters when landing the Fielden Stakes at Newmarket's Craven meeting in April. Mixed fortunes since then, bombing out on desperate ground when last of four in the Sandown Classic Trial but returning to the Esher venue next time and finishing a good second behind Cogito in the Listed Heron Stakes over 1m; Tom Queally prefers Wrotham Heath now, and no surprise if this colt were to find at least one too good now back to this level. The John Gosden-trained STARBOARD has always shown plenty at home and though disappointing slightly on debut (travelled well to a point), this son of Zamindar effortlessly landed a 7f maiden at Redcar, coasting through and surging clear inside the final furlong to win by 5 lengths. His jockey was outdone tactically on his comeback run in a three-runner conditions race over 1m at Newmarket, staying on all the way to the line but never a threat to the winner; bounced back last time in a 10f conditions at Doncaster that has proven a good trial for this race in recent times, showing a willing attitude to see off a couple of rapidly improving handicappers, one of whom had finished second in a Listed contest on its last start. He can rate even better than the bare form (already pretty smart) of that race can suggest, it turning into a bit of sprint from the two furlong marker, and it is likely a truly run race here will see this son of Zamindar in an even better light. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Tales Of Grimm started the current season with Guineas aspirations, and though the wet weather throughout April disrupted those plans this colt ran a very nice race on his reappearance in the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown, finishing off his race strongly from a long way back to take third behind Coigto. He looked more than ready for a step up in distance on that occasion, and is a horse who has always shown plenty at home; forecast rain would be a concern with regards to his chances, but otherwise this son of Distorted Humor is a major contender here. The James Toller-trained Rewarded a very progressive colt who built on a maiden win at two to land a very competitive 1m handicap at Newmarket on Guineas day (had walked over at Sandown eight days earlier), and was very unlucky not to finish a lot closer when fourth behind Expense Claim in a well-contested 10f handicap at Newbury on Lockinge day last month, coming with a strong challenge when stopped in his tracks, keeping on again once out in the clear inside the final furlong. He comes from a shrewd stable that doesn't to overface its horses without good reason, and this colt made the frame in a race where the first five have the scope to progress through handicaps and into pattern company; could go well at big odds if continuing on his upward curve. The Jeremy Noseda trained Grandeur is another to have progressed through the handicap ranks, starting off with a fourth place finish in desperate conditions at Sandown in the Esher Cup, and showed his true colours on much better ground when landing a good 10f handicap at Goodwood from the useful Trader Jack. He only just found Wrotham Heath too good for him in a similar contest at Epsom a week later off an 8lbs higher mark, attempting to give that rivals 5lbs and only going down by a neck; ought not to be anything between the pair on this occasion now racing on level terms. One of the least exposed members of the field is the William Haggas-trained Mukhadram is a very well regarded son of Shamardal who found only subsequent Listed runner-up Mariner's Cross too good for him when 7/2 favourite for a strong renewal of the Wood Ditton, and fully confirmed the promise of that debut run when landing a maiden at odds on back over the same course and distance a month later, pushed out to see off a next time out winner. He missed his intended prep run for whatever reason and this represents a major jump in class, but he has always gone well at home and his handler isn't one to tilt at windmills; extra two furlongs should suit and by no means out of this.
5.35 KING GEORGE V HANDICAP (CLASS 2) (0-105) (3YO) - 1m 4f
This is another hugely competitive handicap which tends to throw up a future Group performer, with Brown Panther and Cenus first and second in this last year, but there doesn't appear to be too many horses fitting that bill this time for all most are at least useful handicappers already. The Roger Varian-trained Cameron Highland was hugely impressive in winning a 1m 1f maiden at Redcar on his reappearance, scoring by eight lengths in the end despite proving keen; however, he floundered in very testing conditions in a Derby trial at Epsom next time, travelling well for much of the way but failing to pick up in the ground and fading into third. He reappears with a hood fitted and should encounter better ground than what he faced at Epsom; should have few problems in staying the extra distance, either (sister Field Of Miracles finished second in the Ribblesdale on this day 12 months ago). Anomaly is a well-bred son of Pivotal who fully confirmed the promise of a couple of placed efforts at two to land a 10f maiden at Newmarket on his return to action last month, making all and travelling very strongly out in front, shaken up approaching the final furlong and asserting readily to come home 4½ lengths clear of Suegioo. The third has won since to give the form some substance, and it was a visually taking performance from this flashy chestnut; more on his plate now stepping into a handicap of this nature from an opening mark of 93, but bred to be smart and the manner of his victory last time suggests he may well have a future beyond handicaps. However, the same may yet still apply to GABRIAL THE GREAT, a Michael Bell-trained son of Montjeu who has always been very well regarded and who has progressed with each run, needing his debut run last autumn but making a winning reappearance in a just a fair 10f maiden in terrible ground at Newcastle, winning by 8 lengths. His latest outing saw him finish a very creditable second behind an extremely smart prospect in the shape of Rosslyn Castle in a 1m 4f handicap at Chester won last year by the subsequent winner of this race, Brown Panther; travelled smoothly off the pace and made good headway on the outer from around three furlongs out, ridden to challenge over a furlong out but unable to go with the winner inside the final furlong as he came home 3¼ length adrift at the line. However, the winner looks more than capable of going on to compete at a much higher level, and this colt travelled every bit as well as him for a long way before giving best inside the final 200 yards; improving all the time and only up 2lbs for that, it would be a surprise if this son of Montjeu couldn't go very well here receiving weight from most of his rivals. The Andrew Balding-trained Open Water won on his debut at two and then lost no caste in defeat when finishing second behind this year's Derby runner-up Main Sequence off level weights in a 1m 1f nursery at Newmarket a couple of weeks later. He has posted two solid efforts in defeats in good handicaps back at Newmarket and also at Epsom on Derby day, doing well to last as long as he did having set a generous enough pace, with the first two home contesting the Group 3 before this race; races off the same mark here and bred to stay this far, so a bold showing would not overly surprise. The Richard Hannon-trained Pilgrims Rest showed just fair form in four maidens last term, but he has come good in a big way so far this term, winning the same 11f handicap at Newbury in May as the yard's Census won en route to finishing second in this last year, and followed that with a narrow victory over Brockwell in a 10f handicap at Leicester 10 days later. He won with a bit in hand that day, off the bridle last but having to be woken up somewhat to go past the runner-up; extra distance ought to suit on that evidence and only up 3lbs as a result of the narrow margin of victory. The Ed Walker trained Nicholascopernicus is another who has taken off in handicaps this term, finding one too good on each of his first two outings in this sphere but getting off the mark when landing a 12f handicap at Doncaster on testing ground, seemingly relishing conditions as he skipped clear to score by 3¾ lengths from Dorry K. He made no mistake six days later in a similar contest at Newbury under a 6lbs penalty, again travelling very easily throughout and soon having matters sewn up once asked for his effort, moving clear entering the final furlong to win eased down by 1¼ lengths. He has gone up a fair bit as a result of those two wins and contests a much stronger race, but is a clearly a horse on the up and has shown his penchant for soft ground; will appreciate every last drop of rain that falls and cannot rule out further progress. Sir Michael Stoute has a tremendous record in this race, and it is interesting that he relies upon Uriah Heep here, a thrice-raced son of Danehill Dancer who showed promise on his sole outing at two and who pushed Minimise Risk all the way in an 11f maiden at Newbury's Greenham meeting back in April, keeping on well inside the final furlong and only just losing out by a head. He ran no sort of race when upped significantly in grade for the Dee Stakes at Chester the following month, but the ground on that occasion was some of the worst seen so far this year and he can be excused on that account; shapes as though this extra distance will suit him very well, and no surprise to see this colt go well on his first attempt at handicap company for a handler who has won this three times in the past decade.
I have been very keen on Colour Vision ever since his Sagaro win and pretty vocal about it on here as well but just to recap; he proved last year as a three year old that he was improving rapidly by stepping up on his third in the Cesarewitch to come a never nearer 3rd to Fame and Glory and Opinion Poll in the (inspirationally named) Long Distance Cup* on Champions day at Ascot. On this form he very much looked like he would be a challenger to the established stayers at the top level this season. However, he was for me astonishing at Kempton in the rearranged Sagaro stakes which was a far stronger field than usually contests it due to the fact that there were horses there such as Red Cadeaux avoiding the testing ground that was everywhere at the time.
He sat at the rear of the field under a super confident Frankie and, when asked on the straight, accounted for the field in about 100 yards opening out an easy 5 length lead without breaking a sweat, eventually finishing an eased down length and a bit winner. Now, there are a couple of mitigating factors; the pace was very strong in the race so it did suit a held up horse, and it is considered slightly easier to run down leaders from rear positions on an all-weather surface. But I watch a lot of all-weather racing and to cut through in that manner is special no matter what the level. Red Cadeaux has since held up the form level by winning the Yorkshire Cup and coming second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Group 1 Coronation Cup.
He will stay 2m 4f for sure judging by the way he runs and on the strength of his last run I rate him as a 120+ horse easily over staying trips and he should be capable of living with Fame and Glory at his best on his day on this basis.
Fame and Glory was the class 3yo in this field, second only to the incredible Sea the Stars in The Derby and a multiple Group 1 winner since, and of course the winner of this race last year. However, I was not desperately impressed by the Gold Cup performance last year despite the fact that I backed him. The race was not the strongest it has ever been, the pace was generally pretty soft due to the heavy ground, and he put the race to bed with a decisive move around the 2f pole but was being reeled in by Opinion Poll subsequently. I think in honesty that he won it down to his class rather than fully staying and against better, true 2m 4f stayers, he might be caught out. He represents no value to me at current prices heading towards odds-on.
Opinion Poll has been the bridesmaid to Fame and Glory the last twice they have met and I think that he is outclassed by that one, at his best, so by association I have to be against him. Having said this, I am sure he will run his race and really gives this race a solid look, his win at Sandown last time out was workmanlike if not spectacular and I was amazed when his price for this race was halved in the wake of that.
This brings me on nicely to the other horse in the field which has beaten that rival, Saddlers Rock. The Irish trained 4yo is still lightly raced but his creditentials were there for all to see when he won the Doncaster Cup last year, beating Opinion Poll by 4 lengths or so. On a direct form line he therefore has the beating of all of this field, but there is far more to that win than just the finishing distance. Frankie had a bit of a lapse of judgement and, when Opinion Poll cruised up to lead he gave a little glance round for dangers and suddenly realised that Saddlers Rock, who had been on and off the bridle the whole way round, was coming back for more! With Saddlers having stolen first march he had no time to recover and let Opinion Poll ease down to finish second, much exaggerating the winning distance. No doubt in my mind that Saddlers Rock deserves to be in this field, but I think he still needs to improve to confirm form with Opinion Poll, let alone the other two market leaders.
Is that it then? Is it a four horse race? Well its difficult to make much of a case for the rest; Askar Tau won the Sagaro last year but was also fairly trounced in the Gold Cup and must improve, the delicate Bridge of Gold is not a certain stayer and has stones to find officially. John Gosden doesn’t usually throw horses at races for fun but Caucus looks more of a punt than he usually makes on the basis of his 5th in a weak Henry II stakes last year. However, he also runs Nehaam who looks to have the best chances of breaking the top 4 here given how close he was to Colour Vision in the Long Distance Cup and his reappearance run can be forgiven. Gulf of Naples must be respected for a trainer who knows exactly how to get the best out of stayers (including, not forgetting, Colour Vision until recently) but it seems a stretch at the minimum to see him involved at the end in this race.
For me this race could easily turn out to be a battle between Colour Vision and Fame and Glory, and I fancy the young pretender to come out on top in the final furlong when Fame can't go on. Roll on 3:45!
Good luck all
*Just as a side note here, I went to Champions Day (courtesy of an OLBG comp, thanks guys) and I thought it was a fantastic occasion but I think they need to work on their naming of the events. Here's a suggestion; what about the Yeats Cup?! _________________ "The problem with the future is that there are more things that could happen than will happen" - Plato (liberally paraphrased)
5.35 Ascot NICHOLASCOPERNICUS 9/1, NAP I backed this horse last time out and i was rewarded with a flawless win at Newbury over 1m4f on good/soft ground. His other run at this distance was a win too on good/soft ground over at Doncaster at the beginning of the month. His last run at Newbury was the most impressive to date, with a 6lb penalty he settled well towards the rear of the field, a powerful well built colt he turned on an impressive turn of foot on testing ground to romp home to easy victory. He loves the softer ground and with plenty of rain forecast for today, he should be amongst the best to relish the conditions. Prior to the Ascot meeting trainer Ed Walker was in cracking form with 6 wins and 2 3rds from 10 runners in the past 14 days and a 20% win and 50% place rate for 2012 along with a 66.6% place rate with the jockey. Looking at the competition, Gabrial The Great has raced once over this distance with a 2nd by 4 lengths, but looks the main threat as one who will enjoy the ground also. Anomoly is yet to race over 1m4f and form suggests he prefers ground on the firmer side of good. Uriah Heap again unraced at this distance and his performances on soft ground have been less than convincing. This race is set up for an intersting encounter to end the day with plenty running this distance for the first time, with the addition of the rainy weather, this selection should be a sure fire E/W chance with 4 places on offer.
Value E/W bets:
3.45 NEHAAM 40/1, Won a class 2 handicap at Ascot last year with 3 runs in total at the venue, 3rd highest earnings horse in the field with $283,757 and was only beaten by a neck by Colour Vision in the Long Distance Cup last October. Has placed 5 times in class 1 from 7 runs and Hanagan on board so he should be given a decent fair ride. Also John Gosden runners yet to fire at Ascot and with Godolphin runners hitting a rocky patch, this could be a slim chance at sneaking a place with 3 on offer.
4.25 LORD OFTHE SHADOWS 50/1, Has an awesome place rate with 64% from 11 runs. Has won at this class and distance at Newmarket last October, form on soft ground is 2,2,1,4 all in class 1 and 2. Has a 3rd in a big field at Goodwood last July in class 2 and at 50/1, with 5 places on offer i see this selection as very good value.
3:05 Royal AscotThe Fugue 2/1
"ive tried to find something that is likely to beat Fugue, but its run lto in the Oaks is by far the best form in the race and 2/1 looks very generous. "
3:45 Royal AscotColour Vision 9/2
"colour vision ran a blinder behind fame and glory. closing fast at the finish (beaten one and half lengths)Dettori was on opinion poll that day and now rides colour vision. i think its worth the gamble that the extra half mile will suit and colour vision could spring a surprise "
4:25 Royal AscotCome On Blue Chip 25/1 E/W
"has been impressive in both runs this year, especially lto when blitzing the field (carried 9-7)after a slow start. has a fast finish and will be picking them off over the last two furlongs. steps up in class today but this race is wide open and Come On Blue Chip is nicely weighted."
5:00 Royal AscotStipulate 9/1
"did not like the heavy ground at Sandown in April and came back with a bang at the same track last month when just pipped by Coqito (unlucky in running in the st james earlier this week)Queally has chosen to ride Wrotham Heath i think Stipulate has a stronger finish and will finish in front of it." _________________ Never pay for tips, Why would you?.
just be cool, think about what your betting and be smart.
Joined: 21 Sep 2008
Location: By The Thames on a warm Bank Holiday afternoon
Posted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:23 am Post subject:
15:05 Ascot - MOMENTARY EW @ 10/1
This is always a competitive affair featuring some of the best middle distance fillies around and this year is no exception, with 6 of the field appearing last in The Oaks. I do feel however that if the horses were presumably set up for a tilt at that, it can't be easy to get them ready for a go at this only a couple of weeks after, and therefore on value terms I'm willing to take these on. In one fell swoop then I take out 6 of the first 9 in the betting and I'm left with a couple of interesting ones!
Princess Highway steps up in class for this but it can hardly be said that she hasn't got a claim here given that she had the Oaks winner 2 3/4l in arrears on her last start. However, on that occasion Was probably needed the run coming back from injury and it this possibly shouldn't be taken on face value.
Momentary however, had her form boosted at Epsom as well when Shirocco Star came second, given that she beat that one (just) at Newbury over 10f before this in the Swettenham fillies trial. Given that she was still a maiden, on her second start that day, I can see her progressing from this form particularly over 2f further here. To be honest I would make her second or third favourite with a great chance of winning for The Queen at the Royal Meeting and I'm happy to be involved at 10/1.
Good luck all _________________ "The problem with the future is that there are more things that could happen than will happen" - Plato (liberally paraphrased)
Democretes has been running in sprint races with great credit. Apart from on one occasion he has yet to run over 6f and this step up in trip is somewhat of an unknown. However he likes to come off a strong pace with a rattling run and I think he may have been laid out for this. He finished 3rd behind Red Quartet and Mince on his reappearance giving Mince 5lbs and he found all kinds of trouble in running before flashing down the outside to finish best of all. Democretes failed to build on that nto when finishing a close up 8th but could not show the same finishing speed as the winner. This step up in trip looks set to suit in my eyes and the breeding suggests a mile will not inconvenience him too much.
2.20 warwick abidhabidubai SHIT RIDE SHOULD HAVE WON
Can run on soft ground, runs well in this grade should be at the finish.
3.20 ripon bohemian rhapsody VERY POOR NO EXCUSES
has better ground to run on here, looked like the step up in trip would suit last time. Something to find with the favourite but could easily take this
3.30 warwick columella 7/4
half sister to memory who won a group 2 race. Well bred, trainer in form and should take all the beating here.
5.10 ripon first in command NAP beaten by 20/1
Cannot believe this horse is 5/2. down in class, jockey takes a further 5lb off and should have won last time. 2nd fav is a donkey in my opinion and first in command is my best bet of the day
6.20 warwick hilbre court
runs really well at southwell so the soft ground should have no issues here. gets on here off a low mark and should take some beating.
Last edited by thefivecs on Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:30 pm; edited 4 times in total
Away from all the glitz & glamour and top class racing at Ascot I've chosen a pretty modest looking contest to risk a small investment on. Chasing debutant Lucy's Legend is the Each Way choice @14/1 with Stan James. The mare is yet to get off the mark in eight starts to date but has shown a little ability at times - most recently when runner up in a handicap hurdle at Wincanton last month ; she has since been fifth at Newton Abbot when looking short of pace to succeed over timber and she has a pedigree to suggest that the larger obstacles may suit her better - so here's hoping they will bring about a little improvement. David Bass takes the ride again and whilst it's difficult to be confident in such a race I do feel the mare maybe capable of running better than her odds suggest.
A farily comfortable winner of a class 4 maiden at Goodwood on debut, beating a nto winner by a length. Improved by a huge amount when tackling a listed event over 6f at Naas, led most of the way but got headed by Dawn Approach in the last furlong, beaten by nearly 3 lengths. Dawn Approach won the Coventry on Tuesday and for me this is the strongest piece of form in this Norfolk Stakes. Interesting that Hughes has opted to ride Annunciation over Mister Marc but I'm more than happy to have Moore on board and I think he can bring this colt very close.
2.30 Ahern, looks a very promising type readily won last time on gdsft ground so will handle any cut in the ground and they're should be as has been raining at Ascot today. Also the owners have Cape Verde who is certain too go close because the form has been franked this week already with Hototo, winning and Dyland Baru, finishing 3rd at the royal meeting so Cape Verde is sure too go close but I think Ahern, is totally unexposed and loved the way it won and think can follow up and win again today.
3.05 Princess Highway E/W, is getting better with every run and won very nicely last time and has already beating O'brians Was and some of his other good horses so has solid form and should have no problem with any ease in the ground and unlike the The Fague and some other horses Princess Highway, never went to Epsom, and I see that as a good thing as the Epsom form sometimes falls apart in this here.
Everything looks primed for a massive run from Princess Highway 5pts E/W at 13/2.
3.45 Saddlers Rock, beat Opinion Poll quite easily and should be the biggest danger to Fame And Glory, who will be very tough to beat but is no value and I will take a chance Saddlers Rock can win.
4.25 Democrates E/W, should appreciate the step up in trip and handles cut in the ground and is totally unexposed over today's trip and I think the trip will bring out the best in the horse and I got a generous 20/1 for this horse earlier and I am very happy about that price, also do not forget Richard Hughes picked this horse, he must think it is something decent. E/W 20/1
5.00 Mukhadram, is getting better with each run and won well last time on fast ground, but is by Shamardal, so should handle the some cut in the ground today and should progress again today and noticed it was getting niggled in the betting this morning and I think has every chance of winning today.
5.35 Rock The Runway E/W and Uriah Heep E/W
Rock The Runway has good draw and will stay all day and looks too have a good chance when some others have had enough at the least has a great chance of grabbing a place for the Shrewd MR Dods.
Uriah Heep, certainly is not as bad as it showed last time that is for sure, something was obviously amiss that day as has 2 very nice runs prior too that and has every chance of getting things back on track today at a nice price 14/1
Going for Mata Haria Blue EW watched last time out as i went for Hatta Stream but Highest weight it as been but 8 furlong instead of the 7 as last time out and looked like it need the extra furlong as did back it EW last time but only 2 places as 2 nonrunners and lucky it came 2nd but it tried hard for the 2nd as it was back of the field most of the race and gave an effort last bit of race and if it had have 8 furlong would have won. So giving another go at 8/1 sure to be in top 3 in my opinion.
Join up Warrick 17:50
Alot i like in here but back to softer graound as last 2 wins been on the soft side and also same distance and class. Last time out was on the polly track and runs best on thurf which when he won last twice and back on turf again today. Lower weight then last twice of 9-1 and won at 9-2 back in may. Been out 12 times this year with 2 win which where 2 in a row back in may and Jockey Racheal Kneller had 1 of the 1st which she runs on here again today. Also like So Is She for place claims this year already running 12 times and placing 5 times and a couple of close 4th's _________________ I stake low on bets.
If i had a double headed coin I would still loose and if i had a lucky rabbits foot it would bring as much luck as it did the rabbit.
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