First run in 1840, a race with a maximum field of 28 runners, racing downhill for the first two furlongs, resembling something like the cavalry charge at Balaclava, can seem something of a lottery, but surprisingly, with some pretty strong trends, winner finding hasn’t been impossible, and 16 of the last 20 runners have been returned at odds of 14/1 or less. While 2 of the last 3 renewals have been won by 3yo’s, (Magical Memory
2015 and Dancing Star 2016) they have been the only two of the Classic generation to succeed since Danetime in 1997. Of the more mature contenders, last year’s winner, the 7yo Lancelot Du Lac, was the only Victor older than six, since the 8yo Sikari’s Son won in 1995, so with just three 6yo’s winning in the last forty years, the 4 and 5yo’s have clearly been having the best of the argument. The last animal to win twice was
Skydiver, fifty years ago, which makes Lancelot Du Lac and Dancing Star’s chances of a repeat, look even more difficult. None of Saturday’s handlers have managed to win more than once, but the Malton Maestro Richard Fahey wouldn’t be doing it out of turn if his son of Oasis Dream, Growl, who has been placed 4th in the last two renewals managed to get his head in front.
He was only beaten 1L racing off a mark of 109 last year, when badly drawn in stall 8, and was similarly placed behind Dancing Star the previous year. He ran well last time, finishing 4th/14 in a York Handicap last Saturday (soft) and could be well suited by the likely faster ground on Saturday, ( finished 2 3/4L behind Harry Angel on Good/Firm in last year’s Group1 July Cup). 10lbs lower than last year he looks well handicapped and connections will be hoping it’s third time lucky
The Paul D’Arcy trained Spring Loaded, has won 11 of his 36 starts, 8 of them on The AW and the 6yo put in an excellent effort last time when winning over the minimum trip at Ascot three weeks ago. He won easily by 2L from Poyle Vinnie, racing off a mark of 100 on Good/Firm ground and with the considerable advantage of having Ryan Moore in the plate on Saturday has plenty to recommend him. However lack of form on a downhill track, (19th/27 in the 2016 renewal in his only attempt) and a 7lbs higher mark tempers enthusiasm.
Andrew Balding won with the 3yo, Magical Memory three years ago and following Foxtrot Lady’s battling victory at Newmarket 4weeks ago he must fancy his chances of repeating the trick. As a half sister to the 2016 winner, Dancing Star, and from the same family as the brilliant Lochsong the 3yo is certainly bred for the job. She is 8lbs higher on Saturday putting her on a mark of 102 but it will be very surprising if in the fullness of time she doesn’t merit a higher mark.
The Clive Cox trained 4yo, Tis Marvellous, has only won 2 of his 13 starts but showed the last twice that Saturday’s test could be right up his street.
He finished 5th/15, 1 1/2L behind the winner, Saturday’s opponent, Gifted Master, following an 80 day break in May, and 7 weeks later put in an excellent effort when finishing 4th/28, 1L behind the winner, Bacchus, in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot. He meets Bacchus on 3lbs better terms at the weekend and this winner of the Group2, Prix Robin Pappin as a 2yo, looks a danger to all.
The transfer of the 6yo, Aces, from the French yard of JE Hammond in April to Ian Williams has seen a revival in the son of Dark Angel’s fortunes. 3rd on his seasonal and stable debut in May, he followed up with a facile victory in a 16 runner Class2 Epsom Handicap 3 week’s later, off a mark of 87, and last time won over 7f at Headquarters off an 8lbs higher mark. He is only 2lbs higher on Saturday and is well worth considering for a yard that continues in such good form.
Since Sprint Maestro, Robert Howell (won with the 4yo Intrinsic in 2014) took charge of Blue De Vega in October 2017, the 5yo has been mostly campaigned at 5f, and the son of Lope De Vega put in a sterling effort last time when winning an Ascot Class2, 5f heat off a mark of 93. He is only 4lbs higher on Saturday, and having won twice over 7f, including at Group3 level, as a 2yo when trained in Ireland, plus having finished 3rd in the 2016 Irish 2000gns, it would suggest that Saturday’s trip could prove ideal. It will come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end at the weekend.
Selection : ‘Tis Marvellous.
E.W. : Blue De Vega. Growl.