The feature race will see a maximum of five go to post and it is significant that Ballydoyle have done away with the pacemaker they unsuccessfully employed for So You Think (3.10) at Royal Ascot last time. The selection is a top class horse over 10f and connections just complicated matters having Jan Vermeer in the field in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
The pacemaking duties will be carried out by Confront for last year’s Derby and Arc winner Workforce who gave weight and a beating to his rivals in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes over today’s C&D on his reappearance.
That form has hardly been upheld, however, and as long as So You Think is over his Ascot exertions he can put the record straight. Considered an equine superstar by former trainer Bart Cummings in Australia he was considered unbeatable at this 10f trip, and it was his class that took him into third place in the Melbourne Cup last autumn.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien who took over the handling of the horse this year showed last weekend with his Irish Derby 1-2-3 that he is a master of his profession and, at this trip, So You Think can have too much pace for Workforce although a rematch over 12f on softer ground might produce a different result later in the year.
John Gosden’s Flying Cross is the highest rated horse in the Marathon and the booking of Johnny Murtagh suggests connections mean business. We currently have a poor crop of stayers, apart from Fame And Glory, and in a race that won’t take much winning I give the nod to Electrolyser (3.40) with trainer Clive Cox amongst the winners at Kempton earlier in the week.
The nap of the weekend is the unbeaten Roger Varian trained-filly Nahrain (4.15) who takes a step up in class having been an impressive winner of a Haydock handicap on her second run last time. As a daughter of Selkirk the hope is that Clerk of the Course Andrew Cooper will put enough water on the track to take the sting out of the forecast good to firm ground.
Top-weight Cape Dollar didn’t have the run of the race at Royal Ascot last time but she must carry a 9lb penalty for her Gp 2 win as a juvenile although she is 5lb better off for 2l with the beautifully bred Dubai Queen on Saturday. That said few fillies have impressed me as much as Nahrain this term and I will follow her until she meets with defeat.
Soorah (2.35) has finished first and second in her two starts over Sandown’s mile and one can forget her last run as she was drawn on the wrong side in the Hunt Cup. Ryan Moore looks a significant booking, she has the plum draw this time in stall 1 and in a wide-open 17-runner event she can land the Mile Handicap.
Coral Challenge: prices from
Start Right 13/2
Decent Fella 9/1
Man Of Action 10/1
Chilled (4.50) was much too free at Chester last weekend having looked a decent prospect at Leicester on his previous run. It is possible that the sot ground was also a problem on the Roodeye and in another tricky looking handicap the Stoute gelding is given another chance.
Antico Murgia has been getting a few rides for Godolphin recently and the young jockey takes off a valuable 7lbs on board Parlour Games (5.20) in the finale. Note this is another who wouldn’t want firm ground but as long as there is a bit of juice he can gain his third win in his last four starts.
At Haydock Vita Nova (2.50) can go one better than when just touched off by Ferdoos over C&D last time; that was the first time Henry Cecil’s filly had met with defeat in four careers starts and she can get back to winning ways in the Lancashire Oaks.
The Old Newton Cup is the big betting race of the day at the Lancashire track and Mount Athos once again has been unfortunate with the draw; he remains one to keep on side but a chance at a big price is taken with Bay Willow (3.25) at 20/1 who hasn’t been seen since February when running on the sand in Meydan.
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