The last three renewals of this famous race have been won by 10/1 shots (twice) and 20/1 chance last season so all things are possible though we did notice that Mark Johnston has won three of the last nine renewal and John Gosden two, though neither have a runner now so that won’t help at all. As you will have noticed, Walpole (7/1 Each Way) failed to take up an engagement last weekend but he is entered again here as trainer Hugo Palmer considers his next move with the son of Rock of Gibraltar. Five races so far have seen four wins and a third which is a very impressive return, and if he gets the extra quarter mile here which seems questionable on breeding at least, he may be that bit better than your average handicapper. His stable are in good form as they have been pretty much all season and that has to be a positive and he does look to be the fastest improving horse in the field and still well weighted to boot.
With the Ralph Beckett stable in such good form it would be folly to ignore the glaringly obvious chances of Magic Circle (11/2) who has already won this season in a Class Three handicap over a fraction over two miles. Off a rating of 90 he soon put two and a quarter lengths between himself and his nine rivals at York which really caught the eye not just of us but of the handicappers who have put him up an extra seven pounds. In a fast run race he may yet be able to bring his stamina in to play but as things stand we do wonder if the handicapper has him in his or her grasp for now.
Up near the top of the weights Iain Jardine has an interesting option in Shrewd (15/2) who could yet be appropriately named if he wins this race on Saturday. Put up two pounds for his recent second place to Heartbreak City in the Ebor handicap, that looks more than fair for such a valuable and competitive event and with useful claimer Clifford Lee booked to ride and take seven pounds off his back, he must have a pretty decent each way chance at the very least and deserves a spot in our race preview if Cliff can stoke him up a little earlier and leave him with a bit less to do inside the final furlongs.
Back to the ever reliable Andrew Balding again and Montaly (8/1) has a small squeak at a half decent price. Although connections clearly feel stamina is his forte with run over all distances up to two and a half miles, his last win was actually over a mile and a half in August 2014 which is a bit off putting, but he has only had seven races in over two years now and isn’t over raced for a five-year-old.
To end with, Luca Cumani may have had his issues but hasn’t forgotten all he has learned over the years and in Shakopee (7/1) he has another serious challenger. A four-year-old now, he is relatively lightly raced with just the eight career starts, with two wins at Leicester (over a mile) and Doncaster (over ten and a half furlongs), though that makes this extended trip a bit of a potential issue. He did look to be running out of steam when runner up over a mile and a half last time and his supporters will need to take his stamina on trust and hope he defies his breeding which suggests this may well be that bit too far for him.