It is not often that a horse who wins impressively on debut and is then tipped to be one of the top two-year-olds of the season, ends up racing in a nursery, but that is exactly what has happened with the William Haggas colt War Department. A dream debut success of four and a half lengths was impressive enough to install him as favourite for the Coventry at Royal Ascot, but the dream soon turned to a nightmare when the horse was hampered, stumbled and was virtually pulled up that day. That experience seemed to affect the horse in his next outing as well when he was never able to strike a blow in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket last time out. The horse has been given a break since then to gather his thoughts and the break coupled with a significant drop in grade into Nursery company makes him the stand out pick here. The form of his maiden win alone is solid because it is a race that has produced multiple winners and a confidence boosting return to form looks likely here.
The main danger to the selection is the progressive Bathos, who represents the powerful Mark Johnston yard. He comes to the track seeking a fourth straight victory in Nursery company, and seems to be relishing his racing at the moment. He does have a 7lb rise to deal with here tho and that might make him vulnerable to the selection late on.
Another horse who has to come into calculations is the Roger Charlton representative Executor, who impressed when landing a Bath maiden in style last time out. He steps into handicaps for the first time here and with more progression expected should run his race.
War Department (WIN)
The William Haggas stable is certainly in fine fettle at the minute and so it would be naive to ignore one of his on-song runners that can hopefully give us and the stable a quick fire double. This looks like a competitive renewal of the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes, the Hamdam Al Maktoum owned runner Tasleet looks the one to keep on the right side of. He almost rattled off a hat trick of victories when only finding top Hannon two-year-old Shalaa too good at Glorious Goodwood, but he resumed winning ways last time out in impressive fashion in a valuable York sales race and that looks like the best form on offer, so the in-form sprinter is the confident selection.
This is a race littered with dangers, but the main threat looks set to come from a French raider in the form of Andre Fabre’s Lawmaking. The two-year-old heads to British shores off the back of a close second in a Group Three race at Longchamp last time out. That was a big improvement on its debut effort and with more improvement likely, he will be a danger to all in the capable hands of the legendary trainer.
A first foray out of Ireland for the smart Jim Bolger colt Sanus Per Aquam is also eye-catching after two runner up berths in its last two runs in Group 3 company. The shrewd trainer fancies his chances here and so he looks the one for tricast purposes.
The Hugo Palmer trained three-year-old gelding Not Never looks like he might be the answer to a very tricky looking handicap. The horse continued the potential of his two-year-old campaign when scoring in impressive fashion on his reappearance and handicap debut at Chester. He then fired right back to form following three months off when he went close at York in the summer, and if you excuse the out of sorts run at Doncaster last time out, then he looks very well treated here for a trainer who loves winners at HQ.
The dangers are plenty, but two main ones will surely come from the two most unexposed types in the race. Sir Michael Stoute has St Leger winning jockey Andrea Atzeni in the saddle on his runner Peterhof. He was a winner on his sole start as a two year old before being placed in each of his three runs this season in similarly competitive handicaps and that form should see him bang in the mix here.
The other horse who should feature is the Luca Cumani runner Knight of Wands. The horse looked a decent stayer when lasting home well in the mud at Newbury last time out and that was a huge step forward from his debut so again he is another he should go close.
Not Never (WIN)