Just the second running of this mile and a quarter handicap but we still await a winning favourite after the 7/2 victory of Senza Una Donna last season for trainer Hughie Morrison. Eight go to post this afternoon as things stand, and our full race preview plus selection ahead of the 5.45pm at Windsor follows.
IN SUMMARY: PRETTY OBVIOUS (Each Way) is clearly a lot better than we have seen so far and his shrewd connections have managed to get him in here off a very raceable handicap mark, and he can come home in front today for trainer Jonjo O’Neill and owners J P McManus, with Fran Berry in the saddle.
1 CHORAL CLAN – Scored in his final race for trainer Philip Mitchell before moving to Brendan Powel but was put up four pounds by the handicapper for that Kempton victory and has suffered in three races since with a last of eight over this course and distance in May and a nine and a half-length seventh of nine when stepped up to eleven furlongs back at Kempton last month. Dropped to a rating just one pound higher than his last victory he has some chance at the weights but looks badly out of form for a stable hitting the 10% mark and no better in the last fourteen days.
2 PRETTY OBVIOUS – Bought for 125,000 Europe at the Arqana Breeze-Up Sales of 2015 the son of Montmartre is yet to live up to his price tag with four starts, a sixth in a Market Rasen bumper and three unplaced efforts on the flat. Last time out he finished a nine and a half-length sixth here over the mile when hampered but makes his handicap debut this evening off a mark of just 64. Owned by the legendary J P McManus and trained by Jonjo O’Neill he is expected to do a lot better now, and although hard to suggest on pure form, he does rather look as if he has been laid out specifically for this race, and a market move is eagerly anticipated.
3 FUNKY FOOTSTEPS – Took a novice event first time out over six furlongs at Newbury as a juvenile and has finished third in her last two starts this season, running on well after being caught a bit flat-footed at Sandown over a mile last month in first-time cheekpieces. The step up in trip today seems sure to bring some improvement, while the Eve Johnson Houghton stable are in good heart with five winners recently from just the twenty-five starts for a 20% strike rate and over eight points of level stakes profit.
4 RAJ BALARAAJ – Two places from the four starts so far this season with a second at bath over a mile in May and a third at Newbury over this trip last time out, beaten a length by Hawridge Glory when keeping on well. Now they know he gets this trip they can ride him more positively if they want to and with the excellent James Doyle in the saddle he looks to have every chance off two pounds higher this afternoon.
5 MILLIE’S KISS – Hard to gauge runner and best to ignore his last win at Yarmouth when running in a two-year-old race by mistake at the age of three and scoring by a neck. That really wasn’t as good as it may seem considering she was taking on the babies (though it was over six furlongs), and she is better judged on her six and a quarter length third the race before over this trip at Yarmouth. Runs off the same rating here and looks to have plenty to find but is at least fit and well and has a winning mentality.
6 BAYSTON HILL – The Mark Usher stable are not in great form with just the one winner from their last twelve runners but the gelded son of Big Bad Bob ran well enough last time out when third to X rated at Bath over this trip to suggest he could challenge for the places. He was beaten over six lengths off a rating of 60 and looked outpaced and may well be better back over a mile and a half in the long term.
7 ODE TO GLORY – Placed in her last two starts for trainer Rae Guest (22% strike rate in the last two weeks), with a second to Three Duchesses at Yarmouth (beaten six lengths), and a three and three-quarter length third to See The Sea at Bath last time out, both over this distance. Left on the same rating of 63, Martin Dwyer takes over in the saddle here and he is another who could well be challenging inside the final two furlongs.
8 CRYSTAL SECRET – Still a maiden after sixteen starts and hard to make any kind of a case for. A four and three-quarter length third at Salisbury over this trip was probably her best ever effort last month and she is running off a light weight today but surely this is not the race for her to finally win her first ever contest.