Another in a line of tricky handicaps this week.
No three-Year-Old has won this race since 2009 so its interesting that there are two fancied this year. Wink Of an Eye and State Of Bliss both represent the classic generation and are both single figure prices. Wink Of an Eye is actually better of at weights with State Of Bliss for beating him a neck at Goodwood last month. That’s because State of Bliss won impressively on his first try at today’s distance at the dreadful Shergar Cup meeting. Wink Of an Eye is chasing a five timer which would be some achievement in a race like this and of the two I fancy State of Bliss more. As I said it’s been a good few years since a three-year-old won this but the last two horses to do it were both trained by State Of Bliss’s trainer Mark Johnstone. Favourites have one won once in 29 running’s another stat that counts against Wink Of An Eye.
Of the older horses only once in twenty years has a horse older than five won this so I’m ruling out those older than five. Dark Jedi is a five-year-old trained by Tim Easterby who has been flying this week. Dark Jedi has really struck form lately winning at Ripon (second there won well at Carlisle this week) and then finished third over one mile six at Musselburgh where he loomed up in the final furlong but didn’t find as much as he can. This trip suits him far better and he was reportedly being aimed at the Ebor but didn’t get in.
My shortlist is completed by two four-year-old’s, Strawberry Rock and HMS President. Strawberry Rock has been lightly campaigned this season only having had two runs. He won on his seasonal debut in May at Windsor after 6 months off (HMS President third that day) He then ran just as well when second to an unexposed Godolphin horse at Newmarket and was well clear of the third. He is progressive but wouldn’t want the ground too fast.
William Buick rides HMS President for Eve Johnson – Houghton and he has a 50% strike rate for the yard this year. Buick was onboard for the horses only win this year. Recently this horse ran twice in forty-eight hours and probably ran a career best in a Shergar Cup race at today’s trip on the second of those.
My Four horse shortlist consists of State Of Bliss (Mark Johnston capable of winning race with a three year old), Dark Jedi (horse and trainer bang in form), Strawberry Rock (lightly raced, progressive and ridden by champion jockey) and HMS President (Career best at this trip last time and Buick 50% strike rate for yard) I’m going to concentrate on Dark Jedi and HMS President as both are good value each way shots especially as 7 places are available with one firm.
DARK JEDI (E/W) HMS PRESIDENT (E/W)
written by Steve Marriott