A field of fourteen grays goes to post for this fascinating handicap at Newmarket, Live on ITV4, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Winner of the race twelve months ago off this mark SYRIAN PEARL has hinted on her recent starts that she is coming back to the boil again and can go back to back in this contest. She was never able to challenge on her latest start when perhaps given too much to do and the handicapper has given her a chance by dropping her three pounds, with conditions perfect today. This has likely been her target all season and with Harry Bentley an eye catching jockey booking, she can go back to back.
1 DARK POWER – Progressive three year old for Clive Cox who arrives here on a hat-trick after a comfortable victory at Leicester on his latest start six days ago. He has a penalty here but commands respect as we clearly haven’t seen the best of him yet and conditions will be fine. Adam Kirby takes the ride and he’s likely to make his presence felt against some older, more exposed horses.
2 CHEVAL BLANCHE – This is her first drop back to the six furlong trip since her first two runs in early 2016, but she showed good early speed on her latest start here and gave the impression she’d appreciate the drop back in trip. She can be keen early in her races but that shouldn’t matter as much over this distance, as she’s likely to be sent on by Kieran Shoemark. She has something to prove off this mark, but is interesting for each way terms.
3 SYRIAN PEARL – Won this race twelve months ago off today’s mark for Chris Wall, whose horses are in incredible form at present. This six year old mare hasn’t been at her best this season, but she’s been hinting that she’s coming back to the boil, not disgraced when sixth on her latest start. Harry Bentley takes the ride and she’ll appreciate the good ground, so she has a good chance of going back to back in this race.
4 JERSEY BREEZE – Completed a double earlier this season but she’s found it tough going since then and she’s still two pounds above her last winning mark. She could only manage ninth at Brighton on her latest start in a weaker race than this and she has a bit to prove with the visor now removed. John Egan takes the ride but others are preferred on this occasion.
5 CAPPANANTY CON – Two wins from eighteen career starts, but both those wins have come on the all weather surface and he remains a maiden on the grass. He kept on well to lead inside the final furlong at Wolverhampton on his latest start, but a four pound rise does seem a bit harsh for that neck victory. This is a career high mark and despite the in form Joe Fanning taking the ride, the percentage call is to avoid.
6 BUCCANEERS VAULT – No wins from ten starts for his new yard this season, lasts seen at Carlisle where he was well beaten back in eighth. That was another sub-standard effort and this race is tougher, so it’s not hard to look elsewhere on this occasion.
7 CASE KEY – Finished a close third to Syrian Pearl in this race twelve months ago. He arrives on the back of two good second places at Bath and Yarmouth, which both represent good form. He has his ground and Ben Curtis takes the ride, so he has to be on the shortlist.
8 FAREEQ – Made his debut for the Charlie Wallis yard over course and distance two weeks ago, not disgraced to finish fifth but further improvement is needed in a race such as this. He remains three pounds above his last winning mark and he doesn’t seem to be improving, so it’s hard to really build a case for him as he’d probably prefer softer ground as well.
9 ZEBULON – Son of Zebedee for Richard Hannon who the handicapper has firmly in his grip, well beaten off this mark on three of his last four runs. He weakened tamely when beaten out of sight at Leicester on his latest start and it’s impossible to recommend him with the handicapper refusing to budge.
10 HE’S MY BOY – Six year old for James Fanshawe who has returned this year with two very poor runs at both Goodwood and Yarmouth. He offered very little at Yarmouth on his latest start and with an overall record of three wins from thirty-two, it’s not hard to look elsewhere on this occasion as he remains above his last winning mark.
11 VINCENZO COCCOTTI – Won at Wolverhampton in October and although his form had been largely uninspiring since, he hinted at a return to form when third at Newbury on his latest start. He kept on well to finish third which was encouraging and he’s now back down to the mark he won off on the all weather back in November. If going forward from that latest start he has definite each way claims.
12 CHAMPAGNE BOB – Finished the runner-up in this race last year for Richard Price, but he’s now four pound higher and struggled off a comparable mark on his latest start at Haydock. He traveled well but once pushed along he steadily started to weaken and he’s only one pound lower here, so he’s very easy to oppose on this occasion.
13 LE MANEGE ENCHANTE – First-time visor worked the charm when he won at Thirsk on Tuesday, but he only won by half a length and now goes up two classes to feature here. He also has a penalty to overcome here under Patrick Mathers and he’s best watched as he isn’t a likely one to follow up.
14 TIME MEDICEAN – Won this race in 2011, but he’s now an eleven year old and his losing spell goes back to 2014, which puts two immediate nails into his coffin. He finished fourth on his latest start at Brighton, but the winner hadn’t won for a long time and the form couldn’t be called anything more than average. Sophie Ralston takes off seven pounds but he’s best watched.