In many or even most people’s eyes this is the race of the day, the one that seriously crowns a Champion and one which as the potential for a quite amazing line up. Previous winners have included the likes of New Approach, Twice Over (who won it Twice Over amusingly enough), Cirrus Des Aigles and the legendary Frankel in 2012 as well as Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock last season at odds of 10/1, and it will be interesting to see if we can uncover anything of that calibre in 2016. If the early betting is accurate then this ought to be little more than an exercise canter for Jaen-Claude Rouget’s Almanzor (13/8) who has won four of his five races this season including a defeat of Arc winner Found last time out at Leopardstown in the Irish Champion Stakes. With Minding, New Bay, Harzand, Highland Reel and others in behind it looks like rock solid form we agree and it would be stupid to suggest they all had an off day, and he looks the best colt of the season to us and can win this to prove that assessment to be accurate.
Despite the man himself keeping his cards very close to his chest the betting suggests Aidan O’Brien is going to allow Arc winner Found (5/2) to take her chance here though we do wonder why when she has nothing to prove such a short time after taking the most important middle distance race in Europe. Although she comes over as uber consistent we feel that she runs well every time but adds a touch of brilliance every now and again with last time an obvious example, but whether she can be guaranteed to repeat that seems open to question, and if we owned her she would swerve this race and head to America for a repeat win in the Breeders Cup.
John Gosden’s Jack Hobbs (14/1) returns at last this afternoon and is the subject of plenty of solid and even sparkling gallop reports from various Newmarket work watchers. Last year the son of Halling finished runner up to stable companion Golden Horn in the Epsom Derby before winning the Irish Derby by five lengths from Storm The Stars though he was only third in this race last year to Fascinating Rock and Found before being put away over the winter. Returning in April he was pulled up at Newmarket and was found to have a stress fracture and thus hasn’t been seen in anger since. Much as we respect and like John Gosden and good as he is, it would be akin to a miracle to win a race of this stature returning from an injury enforced lay-off though that doesn’t mean he cannot appeal to the each way punters.
As Fascinating Rock (11/2) took this race last year with Found in second it would be poor manners were we not to mention the now five-year-old as he looks to follow up. So far this season he has only had the three races with one win at The Curragh (when he again finished in front of Found, this time by three and three quarter lengths though that was in May and he wasn’t seen again until returning in August. Only third that day in a Group Three the thought is that it was a prep run to put him race fit for this afternoon and if that is the case and this is his one and only seasonal target, he seems sure to go well again.
To round things off we thought for a moment that we had stepped back in time when we saw Saeed Bin Suroor’s Racing History (25/1) declared with Silvestre de Sousa booked to ride. After winning three of his first four starts the colt was sent here as a baptism of fire in this sort of class and was anything but disgraced in fourth in this very race. Considering his inexperience that was a superb run and had he been racing recently he would have been a tempter but returning from a year off even the Godolphin zillions may struggle to get him fit enough to be at his very best.