More than £16,000 on offer to the winner of a deep looking mile and a half handicap. Read on for our runner by runner preview and expert tip.
IN SUMMARY: TEMPLE CHURCH could really come into his own now that he is stepped up to this trip with a tongue strap fitted. He seems to be on a decent mark based on what he has done this season and should be capable of plenty more. Danehill Kodiac has improved further this season, running a huge race last time in a Group 3 and he looks like the main danger. Dance The Dream is worth watching closely back from a break while Blakeney Point could get involved if they make it a proper stamina test.
1 MINOTAUR – More than a year since he was last seen on the flat, he developed into a smart novice hurdler for Jonjo O’Neill in the spring. He was a Listed winner over this trip on his final run on the flat in France, but that was a weak contest for the grade. A starting point of 103 for him on the flat looks on the high side based on what he has done so far, so he is best watched returning from a three month break.
2 DANEHILL KODIAC – Progressed well through his career, his two runs so far in 2017 have been the best he has achieved. He tore a smart but small field handicap to shreds at Newmarket over this trip on soft ground before stepping up to Group 3 level last time, finishing a close fourth. He arguably got the run of the race last time when setting his own soft fractions in front, however the horses finishing around him suggest that he can compete from this handicap rating.
3 WILD HACKED – Just in front of Danehill Kodiac last time out in a Group 3, now three pounds better off back in a turf handicap. His last three runs on artificial surfaces have all been far better than those he has produced on turf, however, which has to be a concern back on this surface. He is 11 pounds above his last turf winning mark so this looks like a tough task for him.
4 DANCE THE DREAM – Went in plenty of notebooks last backend when she tore apart a Class 4 contest at Leicester. She still didn’t look to have grown into her frame, so it was no surprise to see her step up on the only time that we have seen her in 2017, when third in a Listed contest at Goodwood. That was back in May, so the absence since is a slight question mark. Nevertheless, she appreciates a bit of cut in the ground so an autumn campaign has probably been the plan with her.
5 BLAKENEY POINT – Enjoying another smart campaign, he only went under by a head in a handicap at Glorious Goodwood to solid yardstick Soldier In Action. That was over an extra quarter of a mile to this and on soft ground. He proved that stamina is his strength after making a winning reappearance over two miles on the Polytrack, beating future Northumberland Plate winner Higher Power in the process. The step down in trip doesn’t look like a positive move and he will need this to be run at a fierce gallop.
6 PACIFY – Not the easiest to predict as he has his own ideas about the game, but he is a smart type when at his best. Has been doing his best work late on over a mile and a quarter in recent starts, so the step up in trip for the first time is interesting. However, three of his best four runs have come with ‘soft’ in the going description so a drop of rain wouldn’t go amiss for him.
7 EYE OF THE STORM – Incredibly ground versatile, he has slipped to a career low rating after having had a poor season. He showed a little more last time when racing over further, having a lot of ground to make up with Danehill Kodiac on their meeting at Newmarket last month. The best of his form has come over a little further so, despite the slipping rating, he makes limited appeal in a deep contest.
8 GAWDAWPALIN – Progressive over this trip with a little cut in the ground, he probably hasn’t won as many races as he should have done given his ability. He needs a sound pace to aim at to be seen at his very best, not always looking the easiest under pressure. He has an each way chance if the cards fall right for him, but needs a little more to score.
9 TEMPLE CHURCH – Only three lengths behind Defoe over a mile and a quarter at York in July from a pound higher. He was well below that level on deep ground since over a mile, with a first time tongue strap fitted now as he steps up in trip. The general form that he has shown this season suggests that he is on a workable mark if he stays, with the likelihood of more improvement in the tank after just seven career starts. Looks like the one to be with here.