15:00 Newmarket Al Zaraqaan is the enigma here as no one including his trainer knows just how good he is. A winner of all his three starts last year he completed a four timer on his return this year when a taking winner of the Roseberry Handicap at Kempton. He looked a horse destined for better that day and is indeed bred to be better than a handicap being a son of Golden Horn and a half brother to an Irish 2000 Guineas winner. His last three wins have been on the All Weather but there is no reason why he should not continue his improvement on turf, fast ground should suit him. He takes a big step up in class from a handicap to a Group Two here, but this is not the strongest race on the calendar and he is a horse I can see making headlines at Royal Ascot next month. He should be followed until the limit of his ability is realised.
Al Zaraqaan’s trainer William Haggas also runs Pablo Escobarr here and he is a steady campaigner who won a 6 runner Group 3 at Goodwood last year. He is ridden by Tom Marquand who has been riding superbly since returning from Australia. Pablo makes his seasonal reappearance here and may just find the odd one too good here. Pyledriver is an interesting horse and has the best form on offer here after winning two Group two races last year and was a classic contender. The undulations of Epsom didn’t suit him, and he was down the field in the Derby but finished 3rd in the St Leger but appeared not to stay. He ran over trips from 1m2F to 1m6F last year. I think today’s distance of 1m4F would be his best trip. He is a likeable sort but makes his seasonal reappearance here and may just be caught out by a fit and rapidly improving Al Zaraqaan. The race is completed by two Mark Johnston runners with differing profiles. Sir Ron Priestly had decent form over 1M6F last year and won a listed race on his reappearance he drops back 2F here. Thunderous had decent form over shorter last year but ran a shocker on his reappearance. He is ridden by Ryan Moore who does well when riding for Johnston.
I'm going to go with Al Zaraqaan here. We don’t know how good he is yet, but he looks capable of winning at a higher level than this race he should be followed this season starting with a win here. Unlike some of his rivals he is race fit and improving fast and can improve again and take this en route to Royal Ascot.
AL ZARAQAAN (WIN)
written by Steve Marriott