An intriguing maiden to open proceedings with some well-bred sorts and decent form on offer.
Mark Johnston’s team is starting to hit a rich vein of form, so his Loyal Touch with Ryan Moore booked is of obvious interest. The son of No Nay Never who’s a half-brother to Irish Derby winner Sovereign finished 3rd on debut at Salisbury where the penny seemed to drop late on. The horses around him haven’t won in the interim but were placed so there’s substance to the form.
Richard Hannon’s Classic was a close-up fourth on debut at Newbury when all the horses around him had form coming into the race. He’ll undoubtedly improve from that experience but looks a little too short in the market.
The Foxes has yet to place in two starts but was far from disgraced in the Chesham at the Royal meeting. That’s arguably the best form on offer and shouldn’t be far away.
However, I’ll side with Hunkpapa from the Manton stable of Brian Meehan. The Sioux Nation colt stayed on nicely on debut at Newcastle, so the extra furlong here will certainly suit. The winner has a Group 2 Champagne Stakes entry and given how Meehan’s horses tend to progress, I think he’ll go close at a nice price.
written by Peter Keogh
A competitive looking sprint handicap awaits in the second race of the day.
Going off the market and recent form Lethal Levi stands out a mile but a 15lb rise since the first of his most recent victories makes this a trickier ask and at a very short price I think locating an each way alternative looks a better tactic.
Looking through the 11 alternative rivals I’ve narrowed it down to a trio that look decent each way options.
The ultra consistent Dream Composer has only finished out of the front two once in his last five starts and shouldn’t be far away once more however the one thing that’s a slight negative is the horses weight. He’s not miles away from his last winning mark but enough to worry me a tad in a race as competitive as this.As such I’m going to plump for the two that remain on the short list.
Top weight Digital hails from a yard that are in red-hot form. Trainer Kevin Ryan has bagged 7 winners in the past fortnight and although this four year old gelding is far from prolific he has competed in quality handicaps throughout this season. He’s now 2lbs below his last winning mark and in his only previous run at this venue claimed a third placed finish. His current double figure price could look overly generous come the off so get on sooner rather than later.
The final selection of my duo has recent form figures that resemble an overseas telephone number but don’t let that put you off Scott Dixon’s Dark Shot. One of the outsiders of the entire field he’s attracted support having been backed in from as big as 50/1 in some places. He’s had limited success competing at this level in the past but now resides on a very attractive mark and is worth an each way play to sneak into the placings.
DARK SHOT (E/W)
written by Rory Paddock
Mark Johnston has taken three of the past five runnings of this handicap and he’s doubly represented this year. Soapy Stevens comes here chasing a hat trick following victories at Chester and a heritage handicap win at Newmarket. He’s consequently pretty high in the handicap but only got a three-pound hike for that Newmarket win so he shouldn’t be far away, Themaxwecan is the other Johnston runner but he’s been disappointing of late. He finished eight in this race two seasons ago off an eight-pound lower mark but the addition of a first-time visor will need to spark vast improvement.
John Gosden’s Trawlerman looked an exciting prospect when landing a nice handicap at Chelmsford in April but the wheels have come off slightly since. There were excuses for both those runs and if the first time hood helps and he gets more luck in running, then he may regain the winning thread. Sam Cooke(8/1) has been a somewhat disappointing individual given his initial promise but he returned to form when not beaten far behind Soapy Stevens at Newmarket. He should reverse the form on the weights and I’ll take a chance he can gain a fourth career victory for Ralph Becket and Rob Hornby (33% strike rate).
SAM COOKE (E/W)
written by Peter Keogh
Sea La Rosa tops the market for the Group 2 Lillie Langtry Stakes which has historically been won by some classy individuals down through the years, William Haggas’ charge is a full sister to a Group 2 winner and looks an exciting prospect in her own right, with victories at listed and Group 3 level already in her career. She’s been lightly raced this season and seems to be very much on an upward curve.
The second-highest on ratings is Irish Oaks fourth Emily Dickinson for team Balydoyle. She didn’t get the clearest of runs at the Curragh that day so the run can be marked up but that being said she’s only won a maiden and this will be her third run in 23 days which will have to take its toll.
It’s just over 301 days since we’ve seen Yesyes but she was a high-class filly last season winning a listed content, finishing third in the Group 2 Park Hill and rounded off the season with a good run in the Prix de Royallieu. She’ll probably need this run against race-fit rivals but is one to keep onside going forward.
Jessica Harrington sends Forbearance across the Irish Sea in search of more black-type. The daughter of Galileo was a Group 3 winner at Newmarket last season but has shown precious little in three starts in the current campaign and looks up against it here.
SEA LA ROSA (WIN)
written by Peter Keogh
Mr Wagyu showed a most pleasing attitude when winning in Ireland last time and his effort the time before, behind Rohaan rubber-stamps his outstanding form claims. Uncomplicated and able to go from the front, his high draw shouldn't pose much of an issue although he is now on a career high mark.
Summerghand landed this a couple of years ago and he showed himself to be no back number when an excellent fifth in the Wokingham. Well handicapped and drawn up the middle, it would be disappointing if he wasn't storming home come the end and he is taken to run into at least a place.
Chil Chil has gone well after breaks before but she could never land a blow on her return to action this term when a disappointing eight of thirteen at Newbury. Clearly entitled to improve for that effort, she arrives here as interesting as any of the others and her yard has been going well.
Commanche Falls won this last season and started this campaign with a fine second, things haven't really gone his way since though he knows how to win and he would be a very big player if back to his best.
Inver Park is in the form of his life and he must be considered on the back of his comfortable success at Royal Ascot.
First Folio, Gulliver and Popmaster are others with claims but our vote shall be split between Summerghand and Chil Chil.
CHIL CHIL (E/W)
written by Chris Connolly