I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that he has been racing on the all-weather of late and, being a Dream Ahead, I think conditions will suit him here. I rode him when he won on his debut at Brighton last season on good to soft ground and, although it will be more testing here, I have ridden him at home in more testing conditions and he is a big, strong horse who will go through it. It’s a competitive race and Koropick and Private Matter are the form horses, but my colt is improving on the evidence of his good second at Lingfield last time and he doesn’t have that much to find to have a winning chance in an open contest.
He has won on good to soft but, on pedigree, I am not sure about him in ground this testing, and he could be badly drawn in 13. But, while this is obviously very competitive, this is not as strong a race as we have had in the past – Al Kazeem, Time Test and Cannock Chase have won this in recent years – and my colt comes here on the back of a good second on his return at Doncaster. He has chances but I think Century Dream could prove tough to beat. He raced too keenly on the lead at Sandown last time and, if he proves more amenable, I think he has the potential to progress a fair bit in ground that may suit him.
The fact that he has won over Ascot’s stiff 1m, albeit on fast ground and only off a mark of 97, gives me hope that he can see out this trip in this company. And he will handle the ground. He lost his way a little bit in the middle of the season but he won well for me at Ascot and over 7f here in the soft for me in September, and ended off his campaign strongly with a defeat of Lumiere in the Challenge Stakes. He needs to have progressed 7lb over the winter to make himself competitive in this company, but soft ground is a big plus and I give him an each-way chance in a race in which a few won’t find the ground ideal. Lightning Spear may be one of those, for all his Queen Anne third came in the soft, and while Somehow has won on heavy her most impressive performance to date came on fast ground last time. I definitely think Ribchester is the one to beat. I’ve always rated him and he has form on course and on the ground, and his second to Minding, after proving keen early on, in the QEII on Champions’ Day makes him the one we all have to fear.
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