Rock Of Estonia
This looks a very strong Norfolk, with a lot of depth to it, so my colt needs to step up a fair amount to even get competitive here. But he is two from two, and he did well to give plenty of weight to a next –time-out winner at Bath last time. It’s a tough ask but we know 5f on fast ground hold no fears for him, and this is only his third start, so of course there could be plenty more to come. There needs to be, though.
He would have an outside each-way chance at his best from a form perspective, that being a Doncaster Listed win at two and a second in the Free Handicap on his return, but he has to bounce back from a poor effort at Sandown last time and this trip is a big unknown. It is two furlongs more than he has gone before, and that is a big question mark. Being realistic, first-time blinkers will have to improve him a good deal for him to be in the shake-up.
Quest For More
Order Of St George and Big Orange are the obvious ones to beat here, but Quest For More is no forlorn hope if coming back to his best. Granted, he has run two modest races this season. You can forgive his run on rain-softened ground in Dubai but he was pretty lack-lustre behind Big Orange in the Henry VII Stakes at Sandown last time. That clearly wasn’t his true running and he scoped badly afterwards, and a return to some of his better efforts of last season – notably his win in the Cadran – would make him a danger to all and he has a win and a narrow second to his name from just two starts at this course. But he does have something to prove after that Sandown run last time, and he does need a career-best.
There will be some big improvers lurking in here but my horse has a good profile. He has only ever just done enough in three wins for me this season, which has worked out well as he has just got into the handicap off a mark of 92; getting into these big handicaps these days is getting increasingly hard. He isn’t obviously well-handicapped, as he has gone up 5lb for a Redcar win in a handicap last time that hasn’t really worked out, but he is progressive and George has given him a nice break since. I think the extra furlong will definitely suit him too, and the quick ground should be fine. He has plenty of positives in an open race.
UPDATE: With Gilgamesh ruled out on Wednesday night, I switch to Bless Him. I definitely think he is handicapped to win races off this mark, and I mentioned in this column before his Doncaster return that we had this race in mind for him. And he certainly was very unlucky at Goodwood last time. But a draw in three, on Wednesday’s evidence, makes life very difficult for him.
I rode him for the first time when he won at Doncaster earlier in the month, and he seemed to enjoy the step up to 1m2f and the soft ground when winning there. He goes up another 2f on much quicker ground here, which is an obvious worry, but he ran okay on fast ground here on his debut and his pedigree does give you encouragement that he will stay. He went up only 3lb for Doncaster so I think he remains fairly handicapped.
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