Some serious stayers invariably line up for this prestigious contest which has been won by Times Up (twice), Estimate, and Pallasator last season, to name but three. This season the early betting market is headed by Luca Cumani’s Mizzou (9/4), a five-year-old son of Galileo who was last seen in action finishing second to Order Of St George at Royal Ascot in the Gold Cup. It seems fair to say that form would probably be enough to win this assuming he can repeat it after three months off, and as he won first timer out this year when beating Clever Cookie at Ascot over two miles we know that run was no fluke. The fact that he has won on ground varying from Good to Firm to Soft is a real bonus leaving the ground as almost an irrelevance, and he arrives here with a decent chance with Andrea Atzeni booked to ride but most certainly cannot be accused of representing any value.
We have an alternative bet with an each way option in St Michel (14/1 Each Way), only a three-year-old but an entry for Sir Mark Prescott. Basically an improving handicapper on paper at least he has won his last two races at Newmarket and Goodwood over two miles, form which is way short of most of his rivals but as a three-year-old he gets eleven pounds from all of his rivals and a full stone from the favourite, and if Sir Mark thinks he has chances in this sort of race then quite frankly, he probably does and is a bit of value as well this afternoon.
Clever Cookie (6/1) appears to be a far better horse with cut in the turf and looks as though he will get enough to keep him happy on Friday afternoon unless it dries out even further. We know he has run well on quicker ground but we feel that is despite it not because of it, and as he only has a neck to find with Mizzou on Sagaro Stakes form (he had no luck in running in the Gold Cup and that run is best ignored), he could well be seen as the value option at over twice the price of the favourite as we write.
Next up on our short list we are interested in David Simcock’s Sheikhzayedroad (10/1) who is a class act on his day and cannot be easily dismissed. He started this season in Dubai with a Group Three win at Meydan before finding Postponed and Co too good in the Sheema Classic before returning to continue the season back home in the UK. A five and a quarter length third to Order Of St George in the Gold Cup was better than expected, but he followed that with another third, this time to Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup, and a repeat of that form would surely give him a solid chance this afternoon.
Clondaw Warrior (5/1) sits higher in the betting than we expected, but is that down to his form or the Willie Mullins factor we wonder? His trainer is as skilled as it gets in this sport and the nine-year-old did finish runner up in this race last season, but he cannot be getting any better at his age and we wonder if this could end up as a stronger renewal. Last time out he picked up second place prize money of close to £40,000 in the American St Leger at Arlington and if he has recovered from his travels he could well pick up some more prize money this afternoon though surely not for first place.