An interesting contest won by either Roger Charlton (no entries this year) or Brian Ellison (ditto) in five of the last six seasons so that leaves us drawing a statistical blank for a change! What we do have is the Saturday form of Richard Fahey who has Gabrial (16/1 Each Way) in here looking to add to his eight career wins and close to £690,000 in win and place prize money. Last time out the seven-year-old was fourth to Scottish in the Group Three Strensall Stakes at York over nine furlongs but his best recent run was clearly when fifth to The Gurkha in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood over this mile, and a repeat of that effort would see him go close here. Add in his course record of one win and two places from just the four starts and he looks even better each way value and is the one we want to be on this afternoon.
Back to our old friend David O’Meara next and he has Custom Cut (11/2) in here who is the highest rated entry in the field according to the handicapper. At his best he is a really classy performer and has won at up to Group Two level (three times) over this mile, but he has run twice here and is yet to taste success. Last time out he finished third at York over nine furlongs in the Group Three Strensall Stakes, beaten less than two lengths at the line, and although he is officially going backwards (he is rated 114 today and peaked at 117), the stable and jockey Danny Tudhope are never to be dismissed entirely and he arrives here with a better chance than it may look on paper.
The early jockey booking of Frankie Dettori to ride the William Haggas trained Hathal (6/1) catches the eye as it at least implies that Al Shaqab racing will be sending the four-year-old here. He is one of the more lightly raced contenders and thus open to more improvement than most, ad we will be watching his return to action with interest. A son of Speightstown out of 1000 Guineas winner Sleepytime, he has only had the six races so far, winning two of them at Lingfield and Newbury, both over seven furlongs one a maiden and the other a Listed race. Better still, he also has a two and a quarter length second to My Dream Boat to his name, and he won the group One Prince Of Wales Stakes so that form looks rock solid though we would be lying if we said we weren’t concerned by his absence since September 2015 and the very probable chance of a lack of race fitness being his undoing here.
As we all know by now, Sir Michael Stoute has his string in fine form and has had all season, and it seems to us to be a matter of time before he wins a decent race with the likeable Convey (6/1) A son of the great Dansili he won the Listed Pomfret Stakes at Pontefract by a very easy three and a quarter lengths but he has since been last of six to a rejuvenated Richard Pankhurst in the Group Two Hungerford Stakes and second to Opal Tiara at Goodwood in a Group Three but has to find a little bit more this afternoon.
Lastly for today we have the three-year-olds who get the weight for age allowance which theoretically increases their chances. First Selection (12/1) is the best of them on paper after he ran a blinder back in May when runner up to The Gurkha at Deauville in the French 2000 Guineas at odds of 50/1 and has competed unsuccessfully at Group One level all season. The drop to this class can only help and it will be interesting to see whether he can get back to his best form this afternoon.