An interesting and competitive handicap over seven furlongs that has seen the Hills family (either Barry or Charlie) win it on four occasions in the last ten years, and with every winner in that period priced at 7/1 or less, and four of them favourites (one of them joint). Sadly, the Hills have given the race a swerve in 2016 so that line of enquiry has already ended, but we still have a long list of improving three-year-olds to work through, we think headed by John Gosden’s Symbolic (9/2) who was mugged on the line over a mile at Chelmsford at the beginning of the month after making most of the running and remaining clear of his field at the furlong pole. If he tries the same tactics this afternoon under Robert Havlin and can get to the front he might not prove quite that easy to catch, and as he has been put up a pretty generous one pound for that effort the son of Shamardal looks rock solid value to us this afternoon.
Richard Hannon’s Shawaahid (5/1) is of interest here and is a bit of an unknown quantity. Five races as a juvenile saw a couple of victories at Nottingham first time out in a five furlong maiden and over this course and distance when taking a Class Four nursery in July on soft ground, but it his return this season that earns his place in our race preview. After close to eleven months off the track he returned to action at Wolverhampton on the tapeta with a length and a quarter victory from Gold Flash despite looking as if he would improve for the run (no surprise there). Connections reported that he finished a little bit tired but that he has grown over the winter and they are looking forward to the rest of the season, and with improvement assured he could take some catching though Symbolic should make then change race tactics this time around.
Looking for horses in top form and Brian Meehan may not be having his best season by his own lofty standards but in Kitaaby (11/2) he has a rapidly improving gelding who arrives here looking to land his hat-trick. Still a maiden after his first five starts (though he did place twice), he got off the mark in a Class Five handicap over this seven furlong trip at Newbury when seeing off previous winner Tripartite by a length and followed that with a win at Leicester on quicker ground and after a four pound rise in the weights. He made all the running that day to come home a couple of lengths clear of his nearest pursuer and although he has been put up another six pounds for that win he is still improving and could yet pull off a bit of a surprise.
With the Andrew Balding yard in fine fettle we can understand why Summer Chorus (7/2) sits as high in the betting, and he arrives in good form having won at Newmarket over six furlongs last time out. She ran on strongly that day to get up in the shadow of the winning post and could be better suited by an added furlong now, but she has also been put up five pounds which will make life a lot more difficult.
To round things off, Richard Fahey rarely leaves a Channel 4 race meeting without a winner and his Drifting Spirit (16/1) looks to be peaking at just the right time to take a hand here. After winning three of his last four races as a two-year-old (and failing last time out when tried in Group Three company), he returned as a three-year-old in July when weak in the market before finishing tenth of twelve at Newmarket to Mise En Rose. Sent off to Pontefract next he was a lot stronger in the market when finishing third, beaten close to six lengths by Huntlaw when looking as if he failed to get the mile, but will be cherry ripe this afternoon and back at seven furlongs off a pound less he could yet be a player here.