Precious little to go on with just the six renewals and one 4/1 favourite plus an 8/1 co favourite giving us a pretty big clue that this is invariably a very competitive affair. As a handicap it’s always a balancing act between the best horse (who will be weighted accordingly), the improving horse (who is more obvious), and the dark horse (who may just not be very good), but we do like a challenge. Sir Michael Stoute had more than one early entry here but has decided to rely on the lightly raced Stargazer (7/2) who won on his return at Sandown over a mile and a quarter and then ran on in to third at Goodwood in a fiercely competitive handicap over the same trip. As a son of Canford Cliffs it comes as some surprise that he stays a mile and a quarter let alone this mile and a half but if he does he has to be seen as a serious player with Ryan Moore in the saddle again this afternoon which is good enough to sway our opinion.
Top weight Dal Harraild (7/2) also has to take his place on our race preview because not only is he the best horse in the race, he is also trained by the ever shrewd and in form William Haggas. A son of Champs Elysees, he has already had four races this season winning two of them at Musselburgh and Goodwood, but has gone up to a new high of 102, four pounds higher than his last victory and making this more of a struggle.
It’s been a few years now since Marcus Tregoning had any really top class horses in his yard but he does have an interesting one here in the thrice raced Dance The Dream (14/1) who won on her third attempt at Chepstow when running away with a mile and a half maiden by a very easy five lengths. A rating of 84 looks neither generous nor punishing but more importantly she has only had the three runs and is open to any amount of improvement now she is sent handicapping and with avid Everton fan Martin Dwyer in the saddle it’s just like the old days and they seem sure to go well this afternoon.
Next on our list comes Wild Hacked (12/1), Marco Botti’s son of Lemon Drop Kid who won at Chelmsford over a mile and a quarter last time out. He ran on really strongly that day to score going away so there is hope he will get this trip but he has also been put up another five pounds and that makes his new rating of 89 look a little on the harsh side to us for now.
Finally, we have Real Dominion (9/1) and with his decent placed form and the Andrew Balding horses in good form he has at least an each way shot. Seven races this season have seen a top three spot in every one and wins at Kempton and Ascot and although he has unsurprisingly gone up in the weights, we can at least be sure he will try his very best week in and week out.