No past runnings to go on for statistics as this contest is put on for the first time, but a weight range of 17pounds from top to bottom sees a mix of abilities line up looking to win the £2,911 first prize. Read on for our race preview and selection ahead of the 6.50pm at Kempton.
IN SUMMARY: Not an easy race to call and Noble Masterpiece will take some beating despite his penalty, but there is no value there and the odds about QUOTHCAN (Each Way) are just too tempting as an alternative. He looks sure to appreciate the drop back in trip and he’s in receipt of five pounds from the Stoute horse as well as George Wood’s three pound claim so he may be able to outstay the expected favourite here
1 NOBLE MASTERPIECE – Sir Michael Stoute’s gelding has to carry a six pound penalty here after winning by a couple of lengths at Yarmouth last time out and could well be the one they all have to beat, despite the burden of top weight. He quickened up nicely when a gap finally came over the seven furlongs that day and can only improve again for the step up in trip to a mile today. Stevie Donohue is back in the saddle so he seems sure to run a huge race again this evening if able to repeat that effort on the all-weather surface.
2 FLABON – His last run is perhaps best ignored after being badly hampered here over seven furlongs, but he does wear cheekpieces and may yet have his issues. His one try on the turf saw a disastrous last of eight at Haydock, however he did finish second on the all-weather over seven furlongs off this rating at Chelmsford. The Marco Botti yard are going well with four winners in the last two weeks for a 27% success rate, so his chance is there for all to see.
3 WARRIOR’S SPIRIT – Richard Hannon trains the son of Requinto who looked like an exciting prospect as a juvenile when he won his second start at Newbury when beating Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean a neck. Their careers have taken very different paths since; the runner-up won at Group 3 level last time out off a rating of 112, and the Hannon horse finished a 22 length last of seven at Salisbury. He makes his all-weather debut here off a rating of 75 and would be thrown in on his two-year-old form. Nevertheless, it so far appears that he may not have trained on, making him difficult to argue a case for.
4 TAMAYEF – His one win from seven starts was first time out at Newcastle on the all-weather over a mile, but there’s been nothing much since with a fifth place at his last race at Newbury over a mile and a quarter. Interestingly, trainer Hugo Palmer drops him back to the mile and returns him to the all-weather here and replaces Josephine Gordon with James Doyle off a rating dropped two pounds in what looks like a serious attempt to do whatever it takes to get his head back in front. That makes him worthy of each way consideration today.
5 HABBAD – Tom Marquand remains in the saddle after winning on the Choisir colt at Doncaster. Although he’s eight pounds higher here, he seems sure to put up a bold effort. After that win his jockey said, “Habbad has had excuses the last few times – we rode him differently at Newbury, he didn’t handle the track at Epsom – but we know how to ride him now and today it all came right”. That suggests that there may be more to come and he’s another who could go well in this competitive field.
6 QUOTHQUAN – One win from 13 starts for the Michael Madgwick gelding whose best recent form was a second here over further last time out, albeit it three lengths adrift of the winner. That was in June and he has been gelded since which explains the absence, and as he was only beaten a head over this course and distance off two pounds lower in December. If he were to run well fresh he could get involved in the finish here and looks an each way possibility.
7 MY IILLUSIONIST – Fluffed his lines last time out when falling out of the stalls at Sandown, giving lengths away and starting in last place before finishing in the same position, 23 lengths adrift of the winner. Still a maiden after five starts, he needs to find a lot of improvement to get involved at all in this field. A drop from the handicapper of a solitary pound seems anything but generous.
8 MASTEROFDISCOVERY – Clive Cox’s son of Henrythenavigator won on his seasonal return at Windsor and makes his polytrack debut this evening. Since then he has raced three times and been beaten four and a half lengths or more on each occasion, with a third at Bath last time out. Only dropped a pound for that he does seem to have plenty to find on recent form, even with jockey William Cox claiming seven pounds.
9 WELOOF – A tongue tie is added by Newmarket trainer Ed Dunlop this evening after a very poor last of nine in blinkers at Newmarket last time out, but if that was down to breathing issues he could do much better today. His one and only win so far from six starts was on the all-weather at Wolverhampton – his only start away from the turf – and back on a similar surface he may well put in a better effort here.
10 DESERT GREY – After failing to score in five starts for Roger Varian as a juvenile, the son of Mastercraftsman moved stables to Roger Charlton. He then promptly finished last of 12 here over seven furlongs in a first-time tongue tie, weakening rapidly close home to be beaten at the line. First-time blinkers are added now to see if they can help him at all, but it all looks a little bit desperate and, unless he improves dramatically for the new headgear or strips significantly fitter for his first run in over seven months, he looks up against it this evening.
11 ACCOMPLICE – The one and only filly in this contest and a comfortable winner at Bath in August on soft going when looking as if she would be more than capable of a follow up. Sadly, that was not to be as she finished a below-expectations seventh at Windsor off a rating six pounds higher. There is no guarantee that she will be as effective on this surface after a fourth and two sevenths in her only attempts so far. She therefore has a fair bit to prove and others do seem to have better chances.
12 D’WATERSIDE – Still a maiden after just the four starts with a six and three-quarter length seventh of eight on his debut at Nottingham over six furlongs the nearest he has got so far to the winner. He steps up in trip this afternoon, but has to carry three pounds more than his allotted weight thanks to race conditions. That negates jockey David Egan’s claim and leaves him with a lot to find in this company. Regardless, he does at least have room for further improvement, but may be better off back in a maiden for now.