Just the four previous runnings of the race and with winners ranging from a 4/1 favourite to a 25/1 rank outsider of 13, this could be another tricky race to judge over seven furlongs.
Newmarket maestro William Haggas won last year’s contest with Predominance and he trains our tip for this year. Afjaan, a five-year-old son of Henrythenavigator, has always been held in some regard by connections at home, having been purchased in 2013 for €280,000. He has won three of his ten starts so far, two of them on the All Weather and the other on Good to Firm, so today’s ground will prove no issue. He has a good record fresh and progressed throughout last season, finishing close between in the leaders in two extremely valuable Ascot handicaps in October. Running off a similar mark here today, he gave the impression there would be more to come as a five year old and the drop in trip should cause no problems with Zoravan likely to try and make all again.
Oh This Is Us represents Richard Hannon who has a 21% strike rate in the last two weeks and this Acclamation colt has been raised just two pounds for winning at Bath last time out. Only beaten a neck in the Lincoln having been sent off the well supported 7/2 favourite, he followed that with that Bath win on lightning fast ground, after which Richard Hannon said “Oh This Is Us has been very, very consistent and after his second in the Lincoln he has had his day here. He has given weight away all round so he is still going the right way”. He has won just two of his last eight races but has risen nine pounds in the handicap, suggesting he is vulnerable for win purposes to a better handicapped, less exposed rival.
Owen Burrows has an intriguing challenger here in Fawaareq, who has won his last three races in a row in lesser company, culminating in a Class 3 Handicap at Newmarket on Good to Firm ground. There is a going concern if the rain stays away with Paul Hanagan saying after his last win “Owen’s horses are in great order. I do think Fawaareq will be better with cut in the ground and that was probably the reason he hung over to the far rail”, but he is clearly on the upgrade and looks all set for another rewarding season when conditions are more suitable.
Richard Fahey’s horses are going well at present and and he has two entered here with Stamp Hill and Penwortham. The market suggests the former has a better chance, with Connor Murtagh taking a useful seven pounds off his back. Last time out he was comfortably beaten over six furlongs at Ayr in the Silver Cup but he will be much happier back over this seven-furlong trip and is a lively enough outsider at a decent price.