What an intriguing race in prospect as William Haggas unleashes a newcomer to his yard, all be him a seven-year-old and that has to be close to a first. South African racing is finally getting the global recognition it deserves and Yorker (16/1) looks more interesting as he has his first run over here after leaving Africa and top trainer Geoff Woodruff. This will be his first run since June 2014, but do remember there are ridiculously complicated quarantine rules, and it takes a long time after leaving their homeland before they are allowed to step foot on a racecourse over here. Back home he was Group One class over a mile to ten furlongs around Turffontein and Kenilworth, and as he is a class act well worth watching this afternoon, we can only wish him and his connections all the best on a relatively unusual venture.
With the Sir Michael Stoute yard in flying form and hitting a strike rate of 31% as we write it would be plain stupidity to ignore the chances of Diploma (4/1) even if three-year-olds don’t have the best of records in recent years. A daughter of top sire Dubawi, she has won two of her three races this season, both here over a mile and a quarter, and will be looking to keep up her 100% course record this afternoon. Last time out she was stepped up in to Listed class and hit the front cruising to put an easy three and a quarter lengths of daylight between herself and her rivals, and although this is another step up in class, she did that so easily that she is worthy of some serious consideration and is well worth a bet this afternoon with more improvement almost guaranteed.
Godolphin feel there is still a lot more to come from Scottish (9/2), and if that assumption is correct then he needs and earns his place on our early race preview. Still only a four-year-old and thus still maturing, he was third to Time Test in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes back in May and won the Listed Steventon Stakes at Newbury two months later before finishing second to Royal Artillery in the Group Three Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock earlier this month. Generally speaking that form leaves him a little short of this class but it isn’t the strongest Group Three ever seen and he looks to have as good a chance as many of these today.
Local trainer David O’Meara won this last year with Mondialiste and the year before with Custom Cut (8/1), and the last named is back in 2016 to try and uphold the stable tradition. Now aged seven he hasn’t won since September last year and has had a run of eight consecutive losses but he hasn’t been beaten too far in most of them and as his record round here reads 314, the last one a Group Two, if he is back to anything like his best under Danny Tudhope than he is another with a big each way chance.
To round things off nicely everyone seems to be forgetting about Air Pilot (11/1) who has already won at this level this season for trainer Ralph Beckett and five times overall from fifteen starts. Admittedly all his winning form is on a surface with a bit less sting on it that the currently predicted Good to Firm but if the rains arrive in time to turn it to good then he could pull off a shock, and isn’t being asked to do any more than he has already done on two previous occasions.