Only the eight runnings of this race so far but I do note that only two favourites have managed to get to the front where it really matters, though with last year’s winner Salateen from the Kevin Ryan yard the only one at double figure odds (10/1), it seems fair to say that the punters are up on the bookmakers overall. With the race naming a certain Richard Fahey in the title the popular trainer would seem a good place to start, and he has decoded to rely on Farlow (6/1) from his early options, and that could be a big hint in itself. Set to be ridden by Paul Hanagan just like in the old days, he hasn’t exactly reached his peak in three starts this season but was only a length and three quarters behind winner Golden Steps over this trip at Newmarket last time out and runs off the same mark today, meaning he must have a small chance today if nothing else.
With the David O’Meara yard back among the winers the value could well lie with Alfred Hutchinson (10/1 Each Way) who may have top weight but is the class act here with stable jockey Danny Tudhope in the saddle. it will require a career best effort to win off 100 but he is a course winner and a distance winner and handles the quicker going as well or better than most, and has a much better chance than his odds suggest if he can repeat his third to Felix Leiter two races ago over course and distance. He already has two course wins plus three seconds and a third so clearly loves the track and could be the surprise package this afternoon and well worth an each way punt.
As mentioned, Kevin Ryan took this race last season and has a serious contender to double up in 2016 with Swift Approval (6/1) who has already won three of his four starts this season, and all over this specialist trip of seven furlongs. He did look as if he sulked a little when he couldn’t get to the front at Musselburgh before finishing sixth, but if he breaks smartly enough here expect him to take them along from the start and then attempt to repel all challengers off a rating that has gone up a relatively generous four pounds.
Three year olds have only won this once so far but Newmarket trainer John Gosden has booked Pat Smullen to ride Predilection (9/2) here and the son of First Defence has to be of serious interest today. Lightly raced with a second to the speedy King Of Rooks on his Newbury debut in May last year, he wasn’t seen again for six months before he returned on the polytrack at Kempton and bolted up in a lowly maiden by an easy five lengths. The third that day has won twice since which is promising, but he then disappeared again until returning at Linfield this May when half a length third behind Sea Of Flames and Ode To Evening, running on near to the line. Stepped up in class at Royal Ascot off a rating of 99 he was last his group (and last in the field) after being heavily eased when his chance had gone in the Britannia Stakes, but has been put down a pound for that run for this afternoon. Whether he is as good over seven furlongs seems doubtful but he cannot be as bad as that run looked and is an interesting option from a very powerful yard.
Lastly, Yorkshire trainer David O’Meara had more than one in here at the early stage but now relies on That Is The Spirit (16/1) with stable jockey Danny Tudhope in the plate. Now a five-year-old there is a big question mark over how he will get on if the going stays on the quick side but I expect them to water if necessary to take the sting out of the ground and there is no doubt in my eyes that he is well handicapped at his best. A course and distance winner from May 2014 in a Class Three handicap off a rating of just 90, he has improved considerably since and won off a rating of 105 almost exactly a year later at Haydock, so 98 today could indeed be a winning mark. Two runs this season haven’t exactly re-enforced that comment with an eleventh of twelve and a twelfth of thirteen over course and distance, but the stable were woefully out of form back then and are at least in better heart recently.