IN SUMMARY: A very competitive Listed event that features a handful of runners with realistic aspirations of landing a Group 1 prize at some stage this season. Top of that list is DANZENO (4/1), who finished his 2015 season with a very creditable third at the highest level at Ascot in October and confirmed his well-being when filling the same position in the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes last month. Strath Burn is a year younger, went very close in the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock last year and will be a very tough nut to crack if, as expected, he builds on last month’s reappearance run. We haven’t seen Charming Thought since his surprise win in the 2014 Middle Park Stakes and he’s entitled to be ring-rusty today, but he’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. Ayr Gold Cup winner Don’t Touch had to settle for fifth when favourite for his first assignment in Pattern company but remains one to be interested in.
1 Absolutely So – Beat three rivals to win this race in 2015 but today’s renewal is much stronger and he wasn’t seen again until a disappointing 7f run last month; entitled to have benefited from that outing but, even if back on song, is likely to find at least a couple of these too good.
2 Burnt Sugar – From stable with excellent record in this race and was placed in two hot handicaps last year (6f/7f); might have more to offer as a 4yo this season but will need to return from 281-day absence with new career-best performance to have any chance here.
3 Charming Thought – Ended four-race 2yo campaign with surprise win in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket (6f, soft) in October 2014; not seen since then but the Godolphin camp is reportedly bullish he can make up for lost time this season; very interesting to see how he fares; tongue-tie fitted.
4 Clear Spring – Improved upon disappointing seasonal debut when winning good-quality Newmarkey handicap (6f, good to soft) last month; also ran well on faster ground at Goodwood on latest outing but is fully exposed at the age of eight and has quite a bit to find with the principals.
5 Danzeno – Last year’s only win was gained in a small-field conditions race but he ran some excellent races in defeat, most notably when third in a Group 1 on Champions’ Day at Ascot (6f, good to soft) in October; also effective on fast ground and made very pleasing return to action when placed in York Group 2 last month; leading contender.
6 Don’t Touch – Won his first five starts last season, climaxing with game success in the Ayr Gold Cup (6f, good), and continued the good work when bagging Haydock conditions race (6f, good) last month; came up short when sent to Ireland for first crack at Pattern company three weeks ago and yet to race on fast ground, but there’s still every chance he can make an impact at this level.
7 Kingsgate Native – Popular old-timer who still retains a significant amount of ability and was a respectable fifth in a 5f Listed event at Haydock last month; hasn’t run over 6f for ages but won a Group 1 over this trip in 2008; vulnerable to younger legs but no surprise if he gives a decent account.
8 Moonraker – Driven clear to win a good-quality handicap on Shergar Cup day at Ascot (6f, good) last summer but has struggled to land a blow on either start in Pattern company this season (6f/5f), and even his best form below is some way below the required standard today.
9 Naadirr – Reached the frame in two valuable Meydan handicaps (5f/6f) in February and was placed in Windsor Listed race (6f, good) when back in Britain last month; probably won’t be far away but is up against some very tough rivals today.
10 Polybius – Beat Naadirr to win a Newmarket Listed event (6f, good) last summer and was subsequently a very creditable third in Group 3 company at Ascot (6f, good); absent since a disappointing favourite on Polytrack in November, though, and others look stronger here.
11 Strath Burn – Won small-field Group 3 at Newbury (6f, good to firm) last summer and only just failed to cause 33-1 surprise in the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock (6f, good to soft) in September; satisfactory seasonal reappearance when fourth in Windsor Listed event last month and a big player here if coming on for the run.
12 Watchable – Failed to win in 2015 but went close in the Group 3 Abernant Stakes at Newmarket (6f, good to firm) at the start of that campaign and has posted two decent effort this season, the more recent when second (ahead of Naadirr and Strath Burn) in Windsor Listed race (6f, good) in first-time visor last month; each-way claims.
myracing Forecast Prices: 7/2 Danzeno, 4/1 Strath Burn, 5/1 Don’t Touch, 6/1 Charming Thought, 8/1 Naadirr, Watchable, 10/1 Polybius, 12/1 Absolutely So, 25/1 Burnt Sugar, Kingsgate Native, 33/1 Clear Spring, 50/1 Moonraker