Just the seven runners this season which is a real shame for each way punters but exciting nonetheless with a wide-open betting market for this mile and a quarter handicap for three-year-olds only. Naturally, a full race preview follows.
IN SUMMARY: ON TO VICTORY won a shade cleverly last time out at Leicester when running on powerfully and off a rating eight pounds higher here he could still take all the stopping with more improvement assured. Frontispiece is the glaringly obvious danger here and will run the selection close in a race well worth watching for potential future winners.
1 TRADING PUNCHES – One win from five runs as a juvenile saw the son of Elzaam score at Chepstow over seven furlongs last September but he was gelded over the winter and looked an improved animal when runner-up to Fire Brigade over the mile at Newmarket, keeping on well to be beaten half a length at the line at odds of 16/1, with the rest string out like the washing. His odds that day suggest he will improve for the run but the step up in trip is an unknown quantity on breeding especially, and with trained David Brown only managing one win from thirteen recent runners others appeal more at the prices.
2 HOLD SWAY – Godolphin’s improving Dubawi colt has to be seen as a major player here but will need to improve again for his recent length win over a mile and a quarter at Newmarket. He has looked to be a slow learner and took four races to get off the mark but will appreciate any cut in the ground here with trainer Charlie Appleby saying after his last win “He has enjoyed this ground and the cheekpieces have helped him concentrate”. With the headgear back on tonight he will take some catching from the front under James Doyle, but will need to improve again if he wants to double up here.
3 GHAYYAR – No surprise to say the powerful Richard Hannon yard are in among the winners with ten from their last seventy-six runners for a 13% strike rate and with Frankie Dettori on board the Al Shaqab owned colt he seems sure to be popular with the punters. One win from four runs as a two-year-old was nothing to get too excited about, and both runs this year have failed to inspire but he did finish a five and a half-length fourth in a Class Two handicap at Chelmsford last time out, five and a half lengths off the winner. This is a drop in class but he will need to do better than that and even Frankie may have trouble steering him to first place where it really matters.
4 ON TO VICTORY – Gelded at the end of October last year the ultimate operation seems to have brought about plenty of improvement with a solid second to Trenchard at Kempton over seven furlongs on his return followed by a cosy two and a quarter length handicap win at Leicester, running on nicely at the end and proving far too strong for his rivals. He is bred to be even better over this trio and with the Even Johnson Houghton stable in good sorts (a 21% strike rate and 44.50 point of level stakes profit) and jockey Tom Marquand knowing the horse well, they seem sure to put up a bold showing today.
5 ROSARNO – An interesting contender for the Charlie Hills stable who have snapped up Jamie Spencer to ride the son of Fastnet Rock. He caught the eye when winning his maiden at Newbury last year after a typical hold-up ride from the same jockey but disappointed on his return when tenth of twelve over this trip, beaten thirty-one lengths at the line after being heavily eased. First-time blinkers are added this evening which may help but he does have a lot to prove though it will be interesting to see how he gets on with Jamie back in the saddle.
6 FRONTISPIECE – Ryan Moore rides for Sir Michael Stoute and owner The Queen which looks a potent combination for the once raced colt who won his maiden at Ascot over seven furlongs on his only outing to date. By Shamardal out of a Danehill Dance mare he is not guaranteed to get this trip on breeding alone though assistant trainer James Horton thinks otherwise saying after that win that “….. Frontspiece is a lovely type but is big and raw, and wants a mile already. It was plenty fast enough for him and he probably wants some juice in the ground. He’ll probably want 1m2f next year”, and if he is correct then he ought to be a very major player now as well for his all powerful connections.
7 VIKING HOARD – Harry Dunlop trains the son of Vale Of York who has bottom weight this evening and plenty to find on recent form. He did win on good to soft going as a juvenile so any rain seems unlikely to cause an issue and he didn’t run too badly when fourth to Adamant on his return at Salisbury but he will need to a lot more to get involved now for a stable without a winner in the last two weeks.