Just the one winning favourite in the last ten renewals and a 20/1 winner last season suggest this is a punter minefield but we do note that six year olds or younger seem to hold sway for what that may be worth. Top weight Chill The Kite (16/1) represents Hughie Morrison and will be ridden by George Baker, just as he was last year when winning this race of exactly the same rating of 107, and he even has to carry exactly the same weight of nine stone ten, so a repeat is still very much a possibility. His form so far this season suggests he has been trained with this as the target with a promising fourth to Gabrial on his return after eight months off in a Listed race at Windsor before trying ten furlongs again and failing to see out the trip at Newbury, just as he has on every other attempt at a mile and a quarter. Those runs plus other efforts last season have seen his rating drop to today’s, and although it is easy to see a plot that might not be there, it does look as if they are really gunning to win this contest again though it will take some effort to do so off his high weight and giving lumps away all around.
We prefer the each way chance of Lat Hawill (20/1 Each Way) at a big price as Keith Dalgleish lets the five-year-old loose again in the search for more prize money. A mile on good fast going seems to bing out the best in the son of invincible Spirit judged on his recent three quarter length second to Treasury Notes at Haydock when he may well have hit the front a bit too soon before the winner shot past him inside the final furlong, and if Phillip Makin can hold on to him a little bit longer in this big field he can be unleashed at the very last minute to get to the front as they hit the line.
Local trainer David O’Meara has a fistful of runners at the early entry stage including Firmament (10/1) who looks to be improving faster than most, and could well be a step or two ahead of the handicapper for now. The son of Cape Cross has won two of his four starts this season and finished second and fourth in the others, putting a length and a half between himself and Mustaaqeem at Chelmsford over this mile last time out and looking as if he had plenty left up his sleeve if needed. We do note his best recent work is on the all-weather surfaces so we cannot be sure that he will reproduce those efforts on turf, but it may be a risk worth at least some consideration if his price is large enough, of course.
Looking for an underrated trainer next (as that is often where the value lies), and Ismail Mohammed fits the bill with his superb abilities with lesser horses and other trainers’ cast offs. The lightly raced Jailawi (16/1) is his entry here and he has a quite outstanding race record with three wins and three seconds from just the eight starts at the age of five. Sadly, his last race was his worst race by some margin when only thirteenth of nineteen at Goodwood in the Betfred Mile, though he was hampered badly not once but twice in the end, and would have been a lot closer to the principles with anything like a clear passage. The handicapper also saw that run as a non event and has left him on the same rating of 99, but with Silvestre de Sousa seemingly happy to ride again he could yet hit the placings and at a massive price.
To end with, Sir Michael Stoute has been farming the big races of late for fun and he has Mustashry (6/1) in here off a rating of 100 and as there are rumours they think he is Group class at home, he could yet be well in here. Lightly raced with five starts, he was last seen at Ascot when winning the Woodford Reserve Handicap by a neck, holding off all challengers, and even with a weight rise of five pounds for today, he may be improving fast enough to repeat those tactics again this afternoon and go close to winning in a tough race to call regardless.