Brando is probably the one to beat in here – in fact, I won the 5f handicap on him off a mark of 88 at this meeting last year and he ended the season rated 116 after his Group 1 third at Ascot – but three or four will be fancying their chances in here if he doesn’t run to his best. So, along with the likes of Tasleet and Windfast, I think my mount Aeolus comes firmly into the reckoning. I haven’t ridden him before but he put up a string of good efforts in Group company last season, including when fourth, only losing out in a four-way photo, in this race first time up. And he ran well in a better grade afterwards, too, including when fourth in the Hackwood Stakes on fast ground at Newbury. Ed’s horses have started 2017 in good form, too.
She shaped very well when second on her only start at Brighton last season and the winner, Mystic Dawn, went on to acquit herself well in Group and Listed company afterwards. The step up to 7f should really suit her – she is related to winners and there is plenty of stamina on the distaff side of her pedigree – and you would hope that she can be competitive here. There are plenty of similarly promising once-raced fillies in here, though, so I imagine this could take a bit of winning.
This probably looks as hot a 0-85 handicap as you will get, as the race looks full of lightly-raced and unexposed horses from some of the top yards, many of whom you suspect will have a good deal in hand of their current marks. I hope Dubara is one you can put in that bracket then, even if she has had more runs than most in here. She progressed well with her racing last season, and ended up dead-heating with a good horse of Ralph Beckett’s at Beverley, the form of which worked out okay. They pulled 5 lengths clear of a horse who ran well when placed in maidens thereafter, just being beaten in both, and the distant fourth did the same before winning her maiden at Newcastle last month. So I think a mark of 82 is fair and she does have some decent winners in her family, being a half-sister to the likes of the stable’s Kikonga. She may need further than 1m in time, but I wouldn’t imagine they will be hanging around here. I have sat on her at home and she seems to have progressed well from two to three, though being by Dubawi she could probably do with a bit of rain or watering.
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