A field of nine go to post for the feature race of the day at Chelmsford on Thursday, see our betting tips and full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Completely unexposed and filled with potential, POET’S WORD looks likely to improve past all of these as he continues to show his potential for Sir Michael Stoute. He was improving at a rapid rate of knots last season, winning at Goodwood and then turning in a great effort in a competitive handicap at Doncaster in September under today’s rider Ryan Moore. Both trainer and jockey are in fantastic form and with conditions ideal on his seasonal reappearance, he should take all the stopping if resuming his upwards curve. Rockspirit and Fire Fighting can give him the most to do.
1 FIRE FIGHTING – Mark Jonhston six year old who is as tough and consistent as they come, rarely running a bad race for the trainer. A comfortable winner of a competitive handicap at Newmarket in August, he returned this year at Dundalk when clearly needing the run on the all weather, attempting to make all but just collared let on. On his latest start at Kempton he never seemed to be travelling and was trapped wide on the bend, heavily eased in the final strides. He’s now down to a mark of 110 which is only 2lb higher than that Newmarket win and he should be fully revved up for this after two runs this season. Adam Kirby takes the ride and all signs point to a big run.
2 ROCKSPIRIT – Form figures of 12211 since his debut effort, winning both his last two starts in good fashion. On his latest run here over C&D he ran on gamely towards the finish to snatch the victory from a well backed Godolphin favourite, a career best on only his sixth start. He likely has much more to give and if continuing to improve at the rate he has been he looks to be a very lively danger, with Andrea Atzeni retaining the ride for Marco Botti. A mark of 104 does require more, but he goes well fresh and is entitled to go close.
3 POET’S WORD – Unexposed four year old who made marked strides in his last three runs for Sir Michael Stoute, finishing forth in a competitive handicap at Epsom in June on only his fourth start. He took his second victory in good style at Goodwood a month later, staying on strongly to land the spoils. He was last seen in September when second at Doncaster in a good looking race, not having much luck inside the final furlong. In all likelihood he’ll have more to give this season with Ryan Moore taking the ride, with him proving his all weather effectiveness at this venue in April. He can go well off a mark of 104 and has to be considered the likely winner.
4 PACTOLUS – Good strike rate on the all weather with eight wins from twenty-five runs and he was far from disgraced on his latest start when second over C&D on his latest start, returning to form after a poor effort at Wolverhampton two weeks prior. He’s still on a career high mark though and he’s taking on lots of improvers, so this looks to be an uphill task despite Aaron Jones taking off 3lb. Others look more likely and place claims only this time around.
5 DIANA LADY – Won on debut in Chile for Sergio Inda but has failed to add to the tally in twelve subsequent runs, well beaten at Kempton two weeks ago when showing very little. Much more needed on that evidence and hard to make a viable case for her, so she is likely best ignored once again despite Luke Morris taking the ride on this occasion.
6 QAFFAAL – Michael Easterby six year old who has been performing well of late, taking victory at the mile trip here three weeks ago, leading on the post. Upped to today’s C&D, he ran on strongly once again to finish half a length behind Pactolus and he may well have more to give off this mark. He’s likely to give it another good go under Nathan Evans who is amongst the winners, with the yard also really in good form at present.
7 INTRUDE – Thrice a winner on the all weather and hasn’t been disgraced on his last two runs, finishing midfield at both Lingfield and Wolverhampton. He looked as though he needed the extra distance on his latest start when fourth over the extended 1m 1f, running on to late in the piece. Down 1lb in the handicap and definite place claims under Silverstre De Sousa if running to the same level again, though Stuart Williams’ yard has drawn nine blanks of late.
8 ICE ROYAL – Consistent sort who has a record of 432344 this year for Jamie Osbourne, always on the premises but never able to quite threaten. His latest start was his usual this year, staying on but never able to quicken enough to get to the leaders, only beaten around a length and a half. He remains on the same mark and desperately needs more if he’s to be taking victory in this, with it being more than probable he’ll find at least one too good off this mark.
9 BROROCCO – Has run some good races on the all weather in the past but his best form is clearly on the turf, with both his wins coming on that surface. He ran a good race when last seen in October to finish third at Newmarket, running on well but there has to be some question marks back from 208 days off on this surface. Literally at the foot of the weights and perhaps he can sneak a place thanks to that, but looks likely to need this.