my thoughts and bets for day3 at york - 22/8/2014

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my thoughts and bets for day3 at york - 22/8/2014

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1:55 Sky Bet Transfer Fund Handicap

A 20-runner maximum field handicap over 1m4f to kick of proceedings and, given the length of the race, the draw should not be as much as a factor as over shorter trips so I will largely ignore it, especially as stall 18 won the 1m handicap on Day 2. What I can not ignore, however, is that there has been just one winner aged over five in the last decade and a couple of three-year-olds have won (both trained by Mark Johnston) from very limited representation and their only contender this year is the William Haggas-trained Satellite. This is a quick return for Satellite who was a disappointing favourite 13 days ago at Haydock where he was slowly into stride and then took a keen hold so he was never really at the races and it is interesting that a trainer like Haggas is keen to run him again so soon. That was just his fourth career start and he was also too keen when he cleared into a clear lead in the London Gold Cup before finishing fourth to two subsequent Group horses in Cannock Chase and Windshear. Interesting that Haggas turns to Graham Lee for the first time today, a noted horseman to help calm him down. With the exception of last year’s winner, Chancery, the others aged 6+ make little appeal with Wigmore Hall declining faster than the Handicapper can keep up with, Saptapadi being a career 1-36 after his unplaced run here on Day 1 and Proud Chieftain was comfortably beaten into second by re-opposing Semeen 13 days ago with the winner scoring with more ease than 1½l suggests. Communicator is more interesting being a course-and-distance winner but having placed on his last six starts, he looks in the handicapper’s grip for a race as competitive as this.

Sir Michael Stoute excels with progressive, middle-distance horses in Group races and handicaps and he has won two of the last six runnings and is represented by Stomachion. I liked his chance at Glorious Goodwood last time in a hot handicap dropping back to 1m2f but I thought he was given a lot do being held up in last place and he could never land a blow. Back up to 1m4f here like when he was second at Epsom on Derby Day can suit him better, especially if ridden closer to the pace. David O’Meara trained Chancery to win last year’s renewal and he is back again off a 3lb higher mark. He warmed up for this race last year with a mid-division effort in the same Haydock handicap where he finished mid-division again 13 days ago so I don’t doubt that that was a sighter to put him spot on for this prize. He is six though which irks me given the age stats for this race but he has a decent place chance. Luca Cumani has also trained a recent winner of this race in 2012 and he runs Semeen who arrives here off a ready victory at the Shergar Cup meeting 13 days ago where he won with more in hand than the official margin of 1½l suggests. A rise of 4lb is therefore anything but harsh and Richard Hughes’ services have been snapped up. Hughes rode Semeen to success on the only other time he has partnered him on his final start as a four-year-old last summer so he must have had a setback not to race again last season and is only now re-finding his progressive form. Mark Johnston’s two recent winners were three-year-olds and his representative this time is the top weighted older horse Salutation who was second at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood in mighty competitive handicaps but he flopped last time out.

In addition to Chancery and Communicator, three other course-and-distance winners take their chance. Lahaag flopped here at the Dante Meeting and then ran okay when finishing in midfield but Royal Ascot but he has lost his potentially Group horse in a handicap profile tag. More interesting is the dual purpose horse, Pearl Castle, who was a fancy for the Triumph Hurdle but he only finished seventh with John Quinn stating afterwards that he needs a flat track. He then won here in June before finishing fourth to two smart horses in Kings Fete and Mighty Yar here again and was then a decent sixth in the Galway Hurdle. Esteaming has not run for 72 days and has struggled since winning off 85 at Newcastle four starts back.

Just three of these won last time out, Semeen plus the hat-trick chasing pair of Gabrial The Hero and Dolphin Village. Gabrial The Hero has only gone up 2lb for a nose victory in a five-runner race last time so this is a deal more competitive and he has a tendency to be slowly away so I prefer Dolphin Village of the pair. Richard Fahey’s charge also only won a five-runner affair last time but having won four of his last six handicaps, you have to wonder whether he is still ahead of the Handicapper for a far more competitive and classy race.

Of the remaining septet, Zaidyn is a little interesting wearing a hood for the first time for Brian Ellison. This is just his second run for new connections having come from France and finished last of ten in a Listed race on the first occasion. The bottom weight, Xinbama, has not finished out of the first two on his last five starts and Charlie Hills turns to Kieren Fallon who won on him at Salisbury. He bumped into a really progressive horse in Connecticut last time out who would probably have started favourite if he was running so he also comes into this. Mirsaale and Pilgrims Rest have shown little of late and Modernism and Glenard need to drop a few more pounds

CONCLUSION - being the only three-year-old in the race Satellite is of interest but he may be more of an in-running play if Graham Lee can get him settled early on and I also respect Semeen, Xinbama and fancy Chancery to hit the frame attempting to win this handicap for the second year running.

2:30 Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup

Promoted to Group 2 status ten years ago, I don’t believe that change has made any difference to the quality of horse that had previously been contesting the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup when it was run a Group 3 with a Roll of Honour containing the winners of three Ascot Gold Cups, a St Leger and two wins for the magnificent Persian Punch in the previous eight years which prompted its upgrade. Since 1990, only five of the 48 horses sent off at bigger than 12/1 have made the frame, just two winners have started at bigger than 7/1 (10/1 and 12/1) and favourites have won eight of the last 17 runnings so do not look too far beyond the obvious.

You don’t have look very far back for the best guide, 22 days in fact to the Artemis Goodwood Cup as a very high strike rate of 14 of the last 21 winners contested that Group 2 affair in which Cavalryman beat last year’s Lonsdale Cup winner, Ahzeemah, by a head with Angel Gabrial (5th), Forgotten Voice (7th) and Estimate (last of eight) well beaten. Cavalryman was a strong each-way advice that day so it was nice he could go and win and, although the winning margin over his stablemate was narrow, he never looked like losing and probably hit the front too early so well was he going. Four-year-olds have been responsible for six winners going back to 2000 but it is the old boys that have the best strike rate with horses aged 6+ winning on five occasions since 2001 from fewer runners than the combined efforts of four and five-year-olds so I wouldn’t be at all worried that Cavalryman is an eight-year-old. It didn’t stop him at Goodwood in a similar quality field to this and York should suit even better given he is still a classy 1m4f horse having won this season’s Princess Of Wales’s Stakes. He should have little to fear on Goodwood Cup form from Angel Gabrial who was beaten over 13l fair and square back in fifth but maybe Forgotten Voice deserves another chance to show his best as Hughes made a bizarre mid-race rushing him up and he quickly folded in the straight. Whether his best is good enough though, I have my doubts.

Estimate’s Gold Cup record certainly means she is much respected having won the principal race for stayers in 2013 and then she ran an even better race in defeat in second place first time out this year. However, I was against her in the Goodwood Cup as I felt (a) the race would come too soon after a hard race on her seasonal debut in the Ascot Gold Cup, (b) her best form is all at Ascot and (c) would she be as effective dropping back to 2m? Well, all three of those questions have to be asked again as it is only three weeks since she dropped away quickly a Goodwood and was allowed to ease home, York does not come close to Ascot in terms of similarities and the Lonsdale Cup is also over half a mile shorter than the Ascot Gold Cup. Stoute commented in a TV interview before the Goodwood Cup that he wouldn’t blame the course if Estimate got beaten. Then he blamed the course when she got beaten so I don’t buy that excuse but it has now transpired she was in season. The same three questions remain however. Lonsdale Cup winners have not necessarily run well at Goodwood as two of the last four winners to run in the Goodwood Cup could only finish seventh and eighth on the Sussex downs. A little surprisingly maybe, only three of the last 12 winners contested the Ascot Gold Cup though two did finish second, which was the position Estimate filled behind Leading Light.

The next best guide since the race was upgraded to a Group 3 is the Yorkshire Cup in which High Jinx finished fifth of 12 beaten just under 4l which has featured eight winners over the same time span but as you can see from their finishing positions back in May over a 2½f shorter trip (36623925), Lonsdale Cup winners have improved for this longer distance and many of their connections will also have viewed it as a starting point to the season. Since then, High Jinx finished second to Brown Panther in the Henry II Stakes and won a Listed race at Maisons-Laffitte. For all his consistency however, he finds it hard to win and that success was his first since winning a handicap two years earlier having finished second in five Group races in between including when a 2¼l runner-up to Times Up in this race in 2012. Maybe he is more of a place-only option?

The aforementioned Persian Punch isn’t the only dual winner in the last 20 years. Far from it in fact as Further Flight, Double Eclipse, Celeric and Opinion Poll have also won the race twice in the last two decades so the 2012 winner, Times Up, would be joining good company if he can win a second Lonsdale Cup. He will need to step up big time on his two runs in Group 2 company this year however having finished seventh of eight on both occasions but he is a horse who is trained around the staying events in the second half of the season. The success of previous Lonsdale Cup winners has clearly contributed much to the statistic that 12 of the last 20 winners had won at York before but it is still worth noting nonetheless. Cavalryman and Pale Mimosa are the other course winners.

Regards the Irish-trained pair, Certerach beat Cavalryman by a neck in the Dubai Gold Cup in March where he was a 33/1 outsider and got the splits at the right time whereas the runner-up didn’t having previously been beaten 7l by Cavalryman three weeks earlier. I am dubious about that form given he Certerach got a dream gap through and the runner-up was an unlucky loser and, since then, he has been beaten twice in Ireland including when only sixth behind Pale Mimosa who won the Galtres Stakes at this meeting two years ago. Lightly-raced for a five-year-old, there is probably more to come from Dermot Weld’s mare who was third to Leading Light when in need of the run on her seasonal debut before winning a Listed race at Leopardstown last month over 1m6f staying on in fine style. However, she missed the Ascot Gold Cup due to fast ground and course records were being broken in Day 1 and Day 2 in the 2yo races so (a) will she be risked if it doesn’t soften up and (b) if she is risked how far below her best is she likely to run, if at all? And even then, is her best good enough to beat winners of the Goodwood Cup (hard to think that Cavalryman won’t run his race again being a grizzled old toughie) and the runner-up in the Ascot Gold Cup (if Estimate is back on song)?

CONCLUSION - Cavalryman is the one to beat but we won’t get any 5/1 this time, mind you, I think around 5/2 is fair enough if I take the view Estimate will not be at her best again and the ground could be too fast for Pale Mimosa. High Jinks for a place only bet isn’t the worst angle in given his career record.

3:05 Sky Bet City Of York Stakes

A Listed race over 7f, five three-year-olds take on 11 older horses and it has been tough going for the Classic generation of late winning once in the last decade. They can boast having officially the top-rated horse in today’s field however but this is Cable Bay’s seasonal debut so whether he will be cherry ripe is debatable. He earned his top rating by finishing second to War Command in the Dewhurst as a 20/1 shot having previously been placed in four other pattern races but the Dewhurst hasn’t worked out this season at all. Therefore more interesting of the three-year-olds is the Roger Varian-trained Mushir who just held on to win at conditions race at Thirsk last time out and he then won a Listed race at this course last season. Also second to Shifting Power in the Free Handicap (Listed) this looks his level. That Is The Spirit rattled off an early-season 7f hat-trick but he looked in need of a break after running down the field in the Jersey Stakes and was then beaten on merit dropping back to 6f in a Group 3 next time. This step back up to 7f is in his favour and one of his wins was at the Dante Meeting so York will suit and I respect his trainer at this course. Richard Hughes is an interesting replacement for Danny Tudhope. Windfast comfortably beat him when he was fourth in the Jersey Stakes but Brian Meehan’s charge then disappointed at Glorious Goodwood next time. Ertijaal completes the quintet of three-year-olds but his fifth place in the Bunbury Cup and third place in a Listed race at Chester behind Glory Awaits (Penitent was fifth) on his last two starts won’t be good enough to place.

Therefore the chances are this will be another victory for the older horses though the soft-ground-loving Penitent will do well to give a 5lb penalty away at the age of eight on the likely fast surface which he picked up for winning the John O Gaunt Stakes at 33/1. The form has been franked however as the second, Breton Rock, won the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes and the fourth, Garswood, won a poor renewal of the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest. Top Notch Tonto finished second in a handicap here yesterday off top weight so I will be surprised if he runs. Alfred Hutchinson is another I would struggle to fancy being rated 92 which is a full 10lb adrift of the next bottom-rated of the 15 runners. Sovereign Debt was highly tried by Michael Bell last season including an 80/1 second to Farhh in the Lockinge Stakes but he has now joined Dandy Nicholls and this is his seasonal debut so his yard are probably working towards other races in the autumn.

Onto horses I do have time for and top of the list is Rerouted for Mike De Kock and Christophe Soumillon who probably didn’t quite stay 1m when third in a Group 3 at Salisbury last time out under Pat Cosgrave. Three of his four wins have been over today’s trip of 7f whereas he is 0-10 over 1m or further. Beaten half a length on his previous start over this trip in a conditions race at Haydock, he will need to improve on that but it is very probable that he will as that was his first start since racing in Dubai in January. On the best of his Meydan form, he has obvious claims with Super Soumi back on board. Andrew Balding is double-handed and although he is officially 3lb inferior to his stablemate, I prefer Absolutely So (Oisin Murphy) to Highland Colori (David Probert). Absolutely So has not run since he was second in the Bunbury Cup (a depleted field following seven non-runners so not an up-to-scratch running) when only headed close home after being heavily punted for the Wokingham where he started as short as 4/1 favourite but finished in midfield. Six furlongs caught him out that day and this is his trip as he showed with a convincing win at Goodwood’s May Meeting. Highland Colori is more exposed and was well behind Rerouted at Salisbury last time out. Heaven’s Guest won that Bunbury Cup and has since run twice more in hot handicaps when fourth at Ascot behind Heavy Metal and then in midfield but not disgraced in the Betfred Mile. He did get found out on his only previous try at Listed level though.

Glory Awaits has a chance back at this level. The 150/1 runner-up to Dawn Approach in last season’s 2000 Guineas he won when dropped back to Listed level at Chester two starts back beating two of today’s rivals but struggled when back up to Group 2 standard at Glorious Goodwood next time. The field is completed by Glen Moss who needs to improve on his ninth in the Wokingham and eighth in the Bunbury Cup.

CONCLUSION - Rerouted and Absolutely So make most appeal but, back at York, it wouldn’t surprise me if That Is The Spirit is best of the three-year-olds finding his best form again.

3:40 Coolmore Nunthore Stakes

Up until 2010, the Nunthorpe was not an especially great race for those who like to take a punt on a long shot as just four of the 63 post-war renewals had been won by horses sent off at any bigger than 14/1. In fact, the biggest upset in the race’s history up until 2010 was Polyfoto’s 20/1 victory in 1965 but Sole Power changed all that striking at 100/1 and since then Margot Did caused a 20/1 surprise and Jwala was a shock 40/1 winner 12 months ago giving fillies yet another winner but they are unrepresented this year.

Although the Darley July Cup winner has gone on to be crowned Champion Sprinter on approximately 70% of occasions since the advent of International Classifications in 1977, the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes is seen by the vast majority as the five-furlong championship of Europe. Looking further ahead, you might want to beware the winner when it next runs as since the brilliant Dayjur blew away his rivals in 1990 as only one of the last 23 Nunthorpe winners went on to win on their following start. That winner was Reverence who then added the Haydock Park Sprint Cup of ten to try that particular route. I highlight this because perhaps the failure of most Nunthorpe winners to double up at Haydock over an extra furlong demonstrates what a unique test the Nunthorpe is in European Group 1 terms in that out-and-out speedballs are required and we should therefore give preference to out-and-out 5f specialists. Or does Haydock just come too soon after York? Those taking the former view could argue that even though the winner of the July Cup over six furlongs goes on to be crowned Champion Sprinter more often than not, it is the King’s Stand Stakes which takes place over the minimum trip that has featured more Nunthorpe winners going back to and including Dayjur despite that Royal Ascot race only being upgraded to a Group 1 in 2008.

Those who fancy the favourite, Sole Power, to add the Nunthorpe to his Royal Ascot success over the same trip might be interested to know that three of the 15 King’s Stand winners from 1990 who attempted to complete the double were successful (Dayjur, Pivotal and Nuclear Debate) and five more were placed. One of those to place attempting the double was indeed Sole Power himself who was beaten half a length into third last year after he won the King’s Stand two months earlier. Of course, Sole Power also burst onto the scene when winning this race in 2010 at 100/1 so this track suits him very well. What he wants is banging gallop on fast ground and a flat track and that looks like what he will get so he is a deserving favourite showing no signs of deterioration at the age of seven judged by his fantastic turn of foot he showed to win this season’s King’s Stand where he had Stepper Point (2nd), Hot Streak (3rd), Steps (6th), Take Cover (8th), Pearl Secret (10th) and the disappointing Shea Shea (11th) behind. Alongside Sole Power, it is fair to say that on all known evidence that an in-form Shea Shea is the only other genuine Group 1 horse in the race but as five of the last 15 Nunthorpe winners had not won a Group 1 or 2 race earlier in their career so you don’t necessarily need a proven Group 1 horse for this race. Shea Shea was second in this race and last year’s King’s Stand in addition to Grade 1 wins abroad, but I am just concerned that his powers are now beginning to wane. Pearl Secret has threatened to be a very good sprinter but last season’s King’s Stand third and this season’s Temple Stakes second hasn’t quite got there and the fast ground may a problem to him. Steps looks Group 3 class at best.

The counter argument to concentrating on out-and-out 5f specialists would be that 12 of the last 17 Nunthorpe winners had also won over 6f and, although the King’s Stand has been a better guide than the July Cup since 1990, from 1980 onwards as many as 17 Nunthorpe winners ran in that Newmarket Group 1 event over 6f with Sharpo, Habibti, Never So Bold, Ajdal, Cadeaux Genereux, Stravinsky, Mozart and Oasis Dream all completing the double. However, none of this season’s July Cup 1-2-3-4 take their chance leaving the Aidan O’Brien-trained Cougar Mountain (5th) as the race’s leading representative and he is fascinating as that fifth place in the July Cup was only his second ever run after winning a maiden! Mozart and Stravinsky were pure class when winning the Nunthorpe giving Aidan O’Brien his two successes in this race after they streaked away with the July Cup after contesting the Jersey Stakes. Cougar Mountain is hard to weigh up but his breeding suggests he will be better on faster ground and he held his fairly prominent early position well suggesting that a drop to 5f may not inconvenience him. Behind him was Hot Streak (7th – who may not have stayed on soft ground). Moviesta (8th – and 6f on soft ground would have stretched him) and Astaire (11th). Hot Streak won the Temple Stakes over 5f but he didn’t have any excuses as far as I could see when he was third in the King’s Stand. Moviesta has since returned to form for the step back to 5f and fast ground when third (beaten half a length) in the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, conditions that suit him well having won that same race the previous year so the Nunthorpe wouldn’t be too dissimilar to that race being all about raw speed.

The winner of that Group 2 contest at Goodwood was Take Cover who is a late-maturing seven-year-old and he edged out the re-opposing Extortionist. There is little between the three of them on pure form (Moviesta was only beaten half a length) but Take Cover appeals as a horse that will really appreciate a fast-run race at York and he is unbeaten in two starts at the Knavesmire. The second of those two successes here was last month was when beating G Force (then 5th behind him at Goodwood beaten 2½l) by 1¼l in a Listed race when giving him 5lb and he only has to give him 2lb today. If G Force ran the same race at Goodwood as at York, then Take Cover improved again and could easily do so once more. Stepper Point ran a mighty race for a 50/1 shot to be second in the King’s Stand but he is probably better judged on his fourth at Goodwood behind Take Cover. He is also 0-18 in Group races.

Borderlescott may be a dual Nunthorpe winner but he is now 12 and I was hoping to see him run better last time out in the 32Red Cup and Monsieur Joe is a handicapper. That leaves the French challenger, Rangali, a three-year-old trained by Henry-Alex Pantall. The last time we saw him was 82 days ago when beating the classy and in-form Catcall by 2l. The runner-up would have won last season’s Prix de l’Abbaye had he not been committed too early and idled in front only to be be nabbed on the line by Maarek. Catcall had previously impressed winning three weeks earlier so I am sure that is strong form. Rangali was dropping back to 5f for the first time in his career to post that win, his best by a long way, so he is fascinating.

CONCLUSION - Sole Power is the one to beat but I don’t think we are getting any great value about him in a race that can throw up shocks. I like Take Cover’s each-way prospects but he is now half the price as a week ago and also respect Rangali, who is there is a danger could be the ‘wise guy’ horse but 16/1 seems a little on the big side if you rated Catcall (the horse he beat last time out) as highly as I do.

4:20 Sky Bet Are You In? Convivial Maiden Stakes

Sixteen declarations for the only maiden race at the meeting which is one maiden race too many in most people’s eyes. Stravinsky won it in 1998 but there have not been too many superstars successful here since. The winner will probably still need to be above average though.

Of the nine contenders to have run before it is Richard Hannon’s Acaster Malbis that sets the very early standard which is a positive if you like his chance anyway as the stable usually leave something to work on for their debut. His head-second to his stablemate, Gibeon, at Newmarket two weeks ago is probably the best form on offer as it featured a number of well-bred horses from top yard plus he really should have won but he was slowly away. The Hannon stable have won two of the last four runnings. The John Gosden-trained Swot also finished second on his sole start in a Newmarket maiden to a Hannon winner in Sawaahel who ran okay in Thursday’s sales race here. I liked the attitude of the winner that day but Swot pushed him hard only going down by a short-head after being sent off favourite and is a maiden winner waiting to happen sooner rather than later.

Able Sprit, Beach Samba (two places behind Acaster Malbis), Brando, Golden Spun and Bright Flash all finished fourth on their only start so will need to come on considerably for that initial experience to win what is likely to be a decent maiden given the promise that Acaster Malbis and Swot have already shown. The pick of those might be Able Spirit as Brian Meehan doesn’t have his debutants bang on first time out and he ran green when fourth of eight at Sandown so should know more this time. Sir Michael Stoute also doesn’t wind them up first time out so Dissolution can be expected to build on his fifth at Newbury in what was a good maiden won by Nafaqa. The final runner with experience is Mark Johnston’s Secret Brief who was disappointing at Glorious Goodwood when sixth after a promising enough debut effort, though the winner did cause a surprise by taking the Acomb Stakes on Day 1.

Guesswork for the seven newcomers of course but they will have to be smart to beat either Acaster Malbis or Swot. Four of them have Group 1 entries though so the likelihood is that one or more will put up a big showing. Kevin Ryan’s Mount Tahan has three Group 1 entries later in the season between 6f-1m, his stablemate, Erik The Red, has entries in the Racing Post Trophy and Royal Lodge, William Haggas’ Foreign Diplomat has entries in the Dewhurst and Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and Barry Hills’ Muffareh is in the Dewhurst.

CONCLUSION - Acaster Malbis appeals most of those with racecourse experience but it is hard to have a strong view with four unraced horses with Group 1 entries taking him on.

4:55 Nationwide Accident Repair Handicap

A 15-runner Class 2 handicap for three-year-olds over a mile closes Day 3. The draw over a mile should slightly favour low numbers (though it didn’t on Day 2 over this trip) but at least it is 15 runners rather than the full quota of 20 so it may not be that much of a factor. The Marco Botti-trained Mooharib looked like a potential Group horse when he won at Doncaster at the end of June, so much so I backed him for an Ascot handicap next time out where he ran a decent enough third but I was a little disappointed. It was probably a good race (the fourth has won since) mind you and maybe he was set a little more to do than ideal and he kept on well but given the way he swaggered to victory on his previous start, I am tempted to give him another chance off the same handicap mark.

Maverick Wave is the least exposed contender having his fourth start for John Gosden but he got found out in a four-runner handicap last time out when second despite enjoying the run of the race just 13 days ago. He only has God Willing ahead of him in the handicap and he hasn’t done enough in two races this season to suggest that he can win a race as competitive as this. The other trio to carry 9st+ are Pit Stop, Munaaser and Sir Guy Porteous. Of those I prefer Munaaser for Sir Michael Stoute who won a small handicap at Newmarket last time out very well to the extent he has been raised 12lb. That was his first run since he was gelded and it is fair to say it has transformed him and it would be no surprise to see this Cambridgeshire entry keep on improving. Michael Halford does not send many horses over from Ireland (just five in the last five seasons including Casamento who won the Racing Post Trophy) so Pit Stop in the old Sheikh Mohammed maroon-and-white silks is worthy of respect having just his fifth start. He will need to bounce back from a mid-division effort last time in a premier handicap at The Curragh after a previous win but is a big, scopey horse and the yard’s horses tend to keep improving with experience. Sir Guy Porteous has struggled in his last two races since the Handicapper has reassessed him after three wins in his previous five starts.

Of those to carry under 9st, Extremity and Halation arrive here off the back of last-time-out wins. Extremity represents Hugo Palmer who won this race last year and he has turned to Ryan Moore again who was aboard Extremity when they made the most of their number 1 draw at Glorious Goodwood so he had that advantage that day but is housed wider this time in a double-digit draw. Halation is chasing a hat-trick after two six-runner handicap successes winning with something to spare having picked up powerfully from the rear so he is right in this off a 5lb higher perch. Lesha and Lockhart only found one too good last time out, Lesha in a Haydock handicap after finishing eighth behind Extremity at Goodwood and Lockhart at Pontefract after he was fifth behind Lesha in that Haydock contest. Neither appeal massively.

Of the remaining quintet, Tiger Twenty Two is out of form, Regiment has 14l to make up with Mooharib on Doncaster running, Almuheet showed more last time and is still lightly-raced for Brian Ellison so he isn’t without a squeak and Master Of The World (12th in the 2000 Guineas) has been well beaten in three runs since. Perfect Persuasion is more interesting for William Haggas on his sixth start and up to a mile for the first time with Nathan Allison taking off 5lb.

CONCLUSION - Mooharib looked classy two starts back so he is worth another chance. Pit Stop and Munaaser concern me most.

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