Racing over a mile at Haydock for a first prize of over £20,000, this is the first flat race on ITV this Saturday, and only the fourth edition of this race.
Our tip for the race is the favourite, El Vip, who comes here off the back of a competitive third at Bath two weeks ago. Racing off the same mark as that day, he has shown he can handle the Good to Firm going and just failed to sustain his challenge all the way to the line. He was a winner at Leicester off a mark of 89 on his last start as a three year old and the market support he received on his last start suggests plenty more is expected this year. Frankie Dettori is a beneficial booking too, with an impressive 27% strike rate at this course in the last 5 seasons.
Richard Hannon took his second Group race of the year last week at Newbury, and War Glory is sure to be well supported in the market following a narrow second place in the All Weather Championships at Lingfield two weeks ago. He has been raised three pounds for that run and was perhaps unlucky in running, but needs to transfer that form back to turf having run poorly at Newmarket on his last start on this surface. That was also his last attempt over a mile, and while he has to be respected there remain question marks as to whether this is his optimum trip.
Early Morning is the other horse prominent in the market, despite finishing seventh of eight on his last start back in September. That was in a tough Listed race however, and on the form of his second place at Ascot he has every chance off a two pound higher mark with last year’s champion jockey on board. He was a first time out winner at both three and four years old for Harry Dunlop, and has won in similar conditions, but he should find one or two less younger rivals slightly too well handicapped to take the win here.
Marco Botti has an interesting contender in top weight Poeta Diletto, who has only had the one run in the United Kingdom so far. Formerly trained in Italy, he won a minor race plus the Premio Guido Berardelli and Italian 2000 Guineas, both Group Three events. Comparing European Group form to UK form is never straightforward and following a last of seven finish at Kempton on his UK debut he has been dropped four pounds by the handicapper to 104. He took a keen hold that day and never got involved, and would be interesting if strong in the market.
Young Ben Robinson has had an outstanding season so far with 11 winner from just 61 rides, and he is booked to take seven pounds off Top Notch Tonto for Brian Ellison. A previous Group 3 and Listed winner – although not since July 2015 – he ran well at last year’s Galway Festival off a mark of 101 and is now just one pound higher than that day. Two starts this season have seen him finish down the field although not disgraced in tough races, and as a seven year old he is entitled to come on for those runs. Like Early Morning, he is vulnerable to younger horses but is proven at a higher level than most of these and can get involved if the first time tongue tie makes a difference.