It seems fair to say that this is way above average for a Group Three with some top class winners including Kite Wood, Kingston Hill and Gifted Master to name but three, so the winner this year is well worthy of some serious attention if he can get anywhere near to the dizzy heights of his predecessors. According to the handicappers and their official ratings the best horse in the race is the William Haggas trained Lockhead (7/2) who arrives on the back of a third to Churchill and Mehmas at The Curragh in the Group One National Stakes over seven furlongs last month. A son of Exceed And Excel he seems to have more stamina than most of his siblings and was running on strongly to almost catch the runner up at the line, meaning the extra furlong here could be ideal and we can all expect a massive run for his very much in form stable.
Aidan O’Brien has surprised a few people with the declaration of The Anvil (7/2), a maiden after three starts but a perfectly respectable second to Best Of Days here at Newmarket in the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes at 25/1. That looks to be the best form on offer here as things stand and with the stable in quite ridiculous form including a one two in the big race here on Friday, it could be folly to oppose him here – so we won’t! Ryan Moore rides and he is at his best in the better races as we all know by now, and if he repeats his last run he ought to prove very difficult to beat.
Simon Crisford is a trainer we seem to mention quite a lot lately but when he has horses like Rodaini (11/2) in his care he becomes even harder to ignore. Four wins from four starts have been taken step by step with a maiden then a novice, a nursery then a Listed race, leaving a Group Three like today as the natural step. He was all out at Doncaster last tine over seven furlongs to hold on at the line but may have been wandering a little once he hit the front, and if Silvestre De Sousa can hold on to him until the very last moment then he may well make a bold attempt at running them down inside the last furlong this Saturday afternoon.
Sir Michael Stoute has our last contender for now with the twice raced Zainhom (7/1), a son of Street Cry owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum who was third on his Leicester debut but far more impressive at York when hacking up by two and a quarter lengths from Dick Tracy. He stayed on really strongly that day but without showing the turn of foot of a top class horse, and in our view he has a bit more to find if he wants to take the leap from maiden to Group Three company in one bound.
Lastly, Solomon’s Bay (16/1) is a bit of a dark horse for Roger Varian having followed up his educational debut sixth with a maiden win at Yarmouth when stepped up from six to seven furlongs. He stayed on well to win that day by three quarters of a length at odds of 8/1 suggesting there may well be a lot more to come and although he has a lot to find on the form book against these better colts if there is a surprise he may well be the one to provide it.