Invariably a tricky race to try to predict though with winners at 7/1, 15/2, and 7/1 in the last three years suggesting the market tales a tale, though not one trainer has doubled up in the last decade so no clues there. With Silvestre De Sousa on fire in recent days we can start with top weight Elidor (16/1) who will have to carry ten stone this afternoon for trainer Mick Channon. Now a six-year-old, the gelded son of Cape Cross has already won this season at Goodwood over a mile and three quarters but failed dismally last time out at York in the Ebor handicap when weakening rapidly and his supporters will need to find a way of forgiving him that effort before they part with any of their money now.
Seamour (7/1 Each Way) is a horse who can flatter to deceive but trainer Brian Ellison has added cheek pieces for the first time this afternoon and they may yet make all the difference. Three races ago he cruised up in the Northumberland Plate only to be passed by winner Antiquarium close home and if he can repeat that effort now he must have a decent chance. He clearly stays the trip and more so has no stamina issues, and the booking of George Baker to ride him for the first time is interesting, and you can never be sure if a new jockey will bring about improvement – hopefully that will be the case as we are making him our selection here!
Meanwhile, Roger Varian continues in good form and he has Battersea (13/2) in here as he looks for his fourth career victory. Last time out he was a respectable fourth in the competitive Ebor handicap off a rating of 107 and races off the same mark this afternoon, and as this looks a lot less competitive on paper at least he ought to have every chance if Andrea Atzeni can keep him a little bit nearer the leasers today and leave him with a lot less to do close home.
When we first saw the field we were almost drawn to Fabricate (5/1) and still feel he might have a decent each way chance. Last time out he stayed on in to third behind Muntahaa at Chester in a pretty hot renewal looking a little one paced at the end but this could possibly be seen as a weaker race and Michael Bell has already snapped up Ryan Moore to ride which may yet be a hint in itself.
Finally, Hugo Palmer is still in among the winners and Wall Of Fire (4/1) seems popular with the punters after his recent distance win at York in a similar standard contest. Held up by William Buick that day, he won going away at the line so the faster they go the better, and with a soft ground win on his CV he won’t be overly bothered by any of the forecast rain which may even be in his favour. On the down side he has been put up eight pounds for that win but he is only three and has more room to improve than most of this field.