With only five runs under his belt, it’s fair to say that Michael Bell’s BATTS ROCK is still unexposed and it’s harsh to judge him on his two runs this season for connections. Showing promise in three runs in 2016, he returned from 364 days off the track at Ascot in May to finish second, outpaced at a crucial stage and he looked likely to benefit hugely from the run. He was running a solid race when last seen at Goodwood subsequently and had just closed to latch himself on to the leading group when he clipped heels and stumbled, which all but ended his chances. He remains on the same mark and with a clear run at the 1m 6f he looks sure to go very close under Josie Gordon with the softer conditions unlikely to be a problem. He was far from disgraced on his only run at Newmarket back in 2016 so the track is no concern so he looks the likely winner for us.
There is no doubt that Jaameh has to remain of strong interest for Mark Johnston after his latest run, racing in the familiar colours of Hamdan Al Maktoum. A son of Iffraaj, he’s a lightly raced four year old who has improved considerably since returning this season for connections, returning with a promising second at Haydock on his penultimate start when only headed in the final furlong. A 3lb rise wasn’t enough to stop another big run from him as he stormed to his second career victory at Chester two weeks ago, showing a sharp turn of foot to blow away the competition up the home straight. This race is certainly tougher however as he’s up in class and he has to contend with a 7lb rise. Mark Johnston has sent out 18 winners from his last 89 runners which equates to a 20% strike rate so the stable form cannot be questioned and he looks the likely main danger as long as he handles the rise in class.
With how impressive his reappearance was, Lord Yeats is likely to be popular in the market for Jedd O’Keeffe. He made all in good style at York in a handicap twenty-two days ago, wide on the home turn but he still had enough to power clear by six lengths. As a result the handicapper has slammed him with an 11lb rise which makes things much tougher, but he’ll make this field work very hard to get by him. That said, he is likely to have competition for the lead and this career high mark is more than likely to catch him out against some rivals who are well treated or are unexposed. He has good each way claims if he is allowed to do his own thing out in front under Fran Berry, but he looks potentially vulnerable off a mark of 99.
With most of his efforts out in Germany, Hot Beat has been improving steadily for David Simcock and he looks close to the boil once again as he returns to the turf. Since moving to British soil he has raced exclusively on the synthetic surfaces, gaining a win at the second attempt at Wolverhampton in January despite hanging late on. He was raised 5lb for that effort and was last seen at Newcastle when raised to the two mile distance, keeping on well to finish third despite being lumbered with top weight. He’s only been raised a pound since and this trip should be his optimum, with the switch to turf no concern as he has won on the grass when in Germany. He looks a solid each way contender if handling the ground and needs to be considered, though this is a stronger race than his previous British runs.
John Gosden is currently operating at a 17% strike rate from his last 48 runners and Cape Cova has an equally good record of three wins from nine starts, which he’ll be looking to enhance in this. The third of those victories came three starts ago at Doncaster when he kept on strongly over the 1m 6f trip to mow down the eventual second late in the day and as a result he was raised 9lb. That mark went up a further 3lb with a good third at the same venue when the 1m 4f trip probably didn’t suit before he was caught out by the softer conditions at Newmarket when last seen. He remains on the same mark and as a result he does have something to prove as he can be a difficult ride, with the blinkers not a surprise addition as he’ll likely be the first off the bridle. Tom Queally retains the partnership and although he is perhaps vulnerable for win purposes off this mark, he holds sound each way claims at a track he has placed at in the past.