A top quality handicap over the flying five furlongs with a 105 ceiling. Read on for our expert tip and runner by runner preview.
IN SUMMARY: YALTA should be well suited to the drop back to the minimum trip, especially drawn to attack in stall one. He was ultra smart at this trip as a juvenile, running well behind a pair of smart types first time back this season over six. Encore D’Or and Royal Birth head the list of dangers. Both course specialists, the former is poorly drawn but both are regulars in similar type races so should be thereabouts. Mazzini is short enough given he has never run over this trip and won’t get his own way out in front, but such was his improvement in cheekpieces last time, he can do better still.
1 ENCORE D’OR – 2/3 over this course and distance and 6/12 on the All Weather overall, he has produced the two best efforts of his career here. He will need to improve again on the latter effort from three pounds higher, especially as having had stall one that day, he is drawn wide in ten now. That is going to take a huge effort to slot into a handy position without using up too much energy.
2 ROYAL BIRTH – A neck behind Encore D’Or last time he was seen over this course and distance, he missed the kick on that occasion. He will get the strong pace that he needs to chase in this deep contest, with Aaron Jones knowing the horse well – a plus from the saddle. He is another to have run his two best career races over this course and distance so is deserving of plenty of respect.
3 BOOM THE GROOM – Has done the majority of his running on the All Weather at Lingfield, making his debut at this course here. He has stall 11 to overcome which is going to make things difficult for him, especially as he has been a long way below his best the last twice he has been seen on turf. There is little in the way of excuses to be made for those efforts, so he is passed over.
4 MAZZINI – Ran away with a lesser six furlong handicap at this track last month when fitted with first-time cheekpieces. All three of his wins have come over that trip, stepping down to five furlongs for the first time here. A ten pound hike in the weights for that win is fully deserved, but how he copes with being taken on for the lead by horses naturally suited to this trip is a significant question mark over one so short in the betting.
5 YALTA – Drawn to attack from the inside in stall one, he looks likely to appreciate the step back to the minimum trip. His career best came when winning the Molecomb at Glorious Goodwood 2016 when beating subsequent Group 1 winner The Last Lion by three lengths. The first half of the five furlong races there are all downhill so he is certainly not lacking in speed. He wasn’t far behind Blue Point and Harry Angel on his 2017 return when fading close to home over six furlongs. Looks a big player here and is far less exposed than the majority.
6 VERNE CASTLE – Has the worst of the draw in 12 to overcome, a disappointment for connections as he is a perfect 3/3 over this course and distance. He has been a rapid improver in the last year but, now a full stone above his last winning mark, he is going to find it difficult to keep his unbeaten track record in tact.
7 DOCTOR SARDONICUS – All three of his career wins on the sand have come here, but none at a higher level than Class 3. He looked badly in need of the run when last seen at Ascot in July on his first run since March. He should strip fitter now, but the percentage call has to be to oppose given this level of competition.
8 ZAC BROWN – Another who has shown plenty of smart form at this track, twice a winner over this distance. Both of those were Class 3 affairs so he is going to have to step forward again in this deeper grade. This will be his 45th race so the likelihood of him being able to improve again at this stage is low, so he looks best opposed.
9 EL ASTRONAUTE – Three times a winner already this season, including at Glorious Goodwood last time out. That win has pushed him to a career high mark which is going to be difficult to defy making his debut on the All Weather.
10 EQUIMOU – 1/1 on the All Weather, she has been keeping smart company this season, attempting a Group 3 at York on her latest outing. She has only run well enough once in 11 starts to justify the level she has been set by the handicapper, so more is needed if she is to get her head in front.
11 GRAVITY FLOW – Progressed sharply through the handicap ranks in 2016, she hasn’t come close to reproducing that level of form so far in 2017. Her runs have come in a Group 3 and Listed class so there is an excuse of sorts, for all that she was only beaten a head at Listed level last October. Should be capable of better back in handicap company, but can only be watched for now.
12 SIGN OF THE KODIAC – Couldn’t get to terms with Mazzini at this track last time, a ten pound swing at the weights not enough to suggest that he can turn those places round. He is a solid yardstick at this level and is capable of making his presence felt from this perch, but he may just find one or two too good.