A cracker of a race won by some excellent horses over the years such as Eagle Mountain, Soft Falling Rain, Time Test, and in 2014 Custom Cut. We mention him last because his trainer David O’Meara has won the race twice (he also took it with Penitent in 2012), but more importantly because Custom Cut (7/2) is back to try and regain his title this season. Now a seven-year-old, he continues to run well with numerous places at Group Three level and clearly likes it round here. Last time out he finished runner up to Awtaad in the Group Two Boomerang Stakes at The Curragh and if he can repeat that here he has every chance of winning again and will be carrying out money to do just that.
According to the handicappers, Hugo Palmer’s Gifted Master (8/1) is best in at these weights and with his stable having a year they will never forget, who is to say that he cannot get involved. After winning his first two races at Newmarket and Ascot this season over six furlongs he was then a superb fourth to Quiet Reflection in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock which is rock solid form and he also has a third to Dutch Connection at Goodwood on his CV in the Group Two Lennox Stakes and is not the no hoper here his rather generous early odds imply.
With Newmarket king pin Sir Michael Stoute back at the top table these days his many fans will be hoping for a huge run from Forge (5/1) who is only a three-year-old with just the seven runs on the clock. After taking his maiden at Doncaster by seven lengths he went on a short run of placed efforts in Listed and Group Three class before a sixth to Nemoralia at York in the City Of York Stakes (also Group Three) before a comfortable confidence booster in a Class Three Conditions Stakes at Haydock when he made all the running for the first time under jockey Richard Kingscote. If the same tactics are employed today then he could well prove difficult to get past, though in all honesty he will need to add some serious improvement if he wants to win in this sort of class.
Meanwhile, Aidan O’Brien has decided to rely on Cougar Mountain (10/1) who may not be one of the stable stars but still has plenty of ability. Admittedly he has failed to win since August last year when he took the Group Three Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown but he has placed in a couple of Group Three’s since and isn’t without a slim chance with Ryan Moore doing the steering as expected.
To end our race preview what about John Gosden’s Nathra (5/2) who has been redirected here where she gets weight from all her rivals. After winning three of her four races as a two-year-old she reappeared at Newmarket in the 1000 Guineas when a good fifth to Minding and followed that with a superb length second to La Cressonniere in the French 1000 Guineas before a below par ninth to Qemah in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. She is dropping in class this afternoon and should go well but she is up again her elders and colts this time and even Frankie Dettori may struggle to get her home in front.