A 40% success rate for favourites so far in this race with two from the five renewals in 2013 and 2016 but nothing else of any use other than a domination by four and five year olds to date and a weight range of eight stone ten to nine stone five. Hakam fits those rules for shrewd trainer Michael Appleby who does particularly well with his handicappers and better still, has the excellent Silvestre De Sousa booked bright and early to ride, which suggests he arrives here strongly fancied. He did win last time out at Chelmsford over seven furlongs so it seems fair to assume he will be running on strongly at the death dropped back to six furlongs this afternoon but perhaps crucially, all his wins are on the all-weather. He will have a fitness advantage over some which will also help but it is the jockey trainer combination that catches the eye with a 21% success rate for Silvestre and a 19% strike rate for Michael Appleby suggesting that combined together they could well be a potent force and a place is clearly a possibility.
Memories Galore (13/2 Each Way) is the one to be on at these weights for up and coming trainer Harry Dunlop after a prep run when fifth to Jordan Sport at Lingfield in January. Kept busy over the winter he won’t be lacking in fitness this afternoon and seems to be improving while this surface should be ideal with all three of his career wins on the various all-weather surfaces. Equally effective over five or six furlongs, Luke Morris has been booked to ride and is a decent man to have on your side while the stable are in good form overall even if they have been short of runners in recent weeks. A lower draw would have been beneficial but he can be positioned where they please from the seven stall, and if he can repeat his half length third at Newcastle off this handicap mark then he has a rock solid each way chance today.
Go Far (10/1) is the next option to catch the eye for trainer Alan Bailey and jockey Fran Berry after he won at Wolverhampton last time out over this trip. His trainer seemed delighted after that win saying “I thought Go Far would win today. He ran well here last time when he needed the race badly and didn’t have the visor on. I couldn’t believe the price (14/1)”, which seems to suggest he may well be cherry ripe this afternoon, and an added three pounds from the handicapper seems fair enough. He has won four times on turf including at Goodwood off a pound lower, as well as five times on the all-weather (but none of them here), though his yard are none from seven in the last two weeks which is the only negative.
With the David Evans yard in good heart thanks to four wins from their last thirty-four runners for a 17% success rate but more importantly a level stakes profit of exactly thirteen points, those sort of figures bring the five-year-old Dougan (10/1) in to the equation. He is another entry whose only wins have been on the various all-weather surfaces (one of them over this course and distance last April), which suggests he is ideally suited by this sort of surface. Last time out he finished an unlucky third over five furlongs at Newcastle when checked when coming with his run, and off the same rating here over his preferred trip, he has to have a pretty solid each way chance this afternoon.
Dutch Golden Age (9/2) is another to consider for Sussex trainer Gary Moore with his four wins from six starts at this course record, and four from thirteen over this six furlong trip. Add in two wins from his last three starts including a cool success over course and distance last month and his chance becomes clear, though the handicapper has put him up a big seven pounds which has to negate his chances upped in class this afternoon. He will need a career best to win this valuable handicap but seems to be getting better race on race while his yard are in decent enough form with two wins from their last nine runners and a 22% strike rate. Tom Queally takes over from George Baker as things stand and rides this course well enough and as he could be a decent price he may yet be an each way option.
Looking at other outsiders and Julie Camacho has an interesting option in Judicial (16/1) who is a good horse on his day and possible dark horse. Six wins from fifteen starts is good for any handicapper but he was put up to a new high rating of 99 after winning at Chester last August and then to 100 after a good third to Harry Hurricane at Haydock. That proved a bit too much for him on his return when seventh at Wolverhampton on his first run after five months off as did a new rating of 99 last time when a three length fifth to Go Far at the same track, but he has been dropped another pound now and meets that rival on four pounds better terms this afternoon which may yet be enough to turn that form around this afternoon.
Champion jockey Jim Crowley is a man very much in demand and at the very top of his game so the fact that he has been booked to ride Solar Flair (14/1) by in-form trainer William Knight who has a 33% strike rate thanks to one win from three recent runners. Based in Patching, West Sussex, he deserves credit for doing as well as he does with his small sting and this five-year-old Equiano gelding could add to his reputation with a big run. Put up to a mark of 100 after a solid third to Muntadab at Doncaster last October but has been outclassed so far this season with two “also ran” efforts at Meydan at the Dubai Carnival. Being beaten by a back to his best Krypton Factor and then by Godolphin’s Jungle Cat (who finished fourth in the Group One Al Quoz Sprint Saturday night) seems nothing to be ashamed of, and back in more suitable grade off a rating dropped two pounds, he may run a huge race if over his travels.
Kasbah (10/1) ends the early preview for Amanda Perrett and arrives here in good form though possibly in the grip of the handicapper. With three wins from eleven starts on the all-weather he clearly has ability, with his last win at Lingfield in January before an excellent neck second off of five pounds higher though another two pounds for that saw him finish fourth to Encore D’Or last time out. That was over five furlongs when he could never deliver a blow but back up to six here he should do better with Jack Mitchell in the saddle, though a place still seems the best connections can possibly hope for.