His record suggests he needs a run or two to put him straight, and that may have been the case when he was seventh on his reappearance here last season, his only start at the track to date. This will be the first time I have sat on him but he certainly looks to come here on a fair mark, just 3lb higher than when winning a valuable Naas handicap last September and already 3lb lower than when a good fourth on his next start in a big field at York. So this front-runner looks on a fair mark if he is straight enough, and I can’t tell you that at the moment, as I don’t know. Hopefully, the first-time cheek pieces will help him, too.
He shaped really well for me on his debut at Nottingham last season. He is a well-bred individual and related to a lot of good winners, and he looks to have plenty of ability himself to judge from that opening second to an experienced rival. He will probably stay further in time but this looks a good starting point for him for the season, and hopefully a winnable race. I’m told he has strengthened up well from two to three.
He comes here in great form. In fact, he hasn’t run a bad race since joining Heather [Main] last season, winning four times and officially improving 21lb in the process. I was on board when he was just touched off in what was a decent handicap at Lingfield last time and, even though it was a bunch finish, I think a 1lb rise is fair enough in the circumstances. This is his first start at the track, but I don’t see how it should trouble him and it is not hard to see him going close again in his current mood from a fair draw in five.
He progressed well last season, and you couldn’t have wished for any more from him than when he won at Wolverhampton on his reappearance last month. He beat his fit and in-form stablemate Battle Lines by 6 lengths there off a mark of 75, and I suppose it was inevitable that he was going to get hit hard by the handicapper, especially as the runner-up has gone well in both his starts for me since. This is obviously a big step up in class and he needs to improve a good deal again to be competitive here, but this valuable Listed race is certainly worth trying after that Wolverhampton win. The step back in trip is probably not ideal but at least it’s a stiff mile here.
She cost $70,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland sales last September. She is by the US sire Congrats out of a very well-related mare, and she goes really well at home, too. This is Robert’s first juvenile runner of the season, though, so this will tell us a lot more. But I have worked her at home and liked her, the stiff 5f will suit, and I would like to think she will be bang there at the finish.
He showed ability over 6f/7f last season but a gelding operation and the step up to a mile saw him take a big step forward here on his reappearance. He has been raised 7lb for that run, but hopefully the move up another couple of furlongs or so will suit, and he is a Rip Van Winkle half-brother to a 1m4f winner. This race has cut up a lot from the original 16 entries, and I think this is between us and Casey Jones.
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