Dandy Nicholls has won this ultra competitive heat an impressive six times this century, so his two runners, Orion’s Bow, and Kimberella, have to be of interest. The former a 5yo by Pivotal, ran a great race in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood, finishing second, off a mark of 103 to the better drawn Dancing Star. He disappointed next time in the Great St Wilfred at Ripon racing off a mark of 106. Excuses can be made however as he was drawn on the wrong side, and had to be switched, so his 8th place wasn’t bad in the circumstances. Also it was his first run at Ripon, a course that certainly doesn’t suit all horses. Orion’s Bow is a most progressive animal having won his first handicap in July 2014 off a lowly 74 and his last victory in July saw him take a class2 Hamliton handicap (soft) of a mark of 97 winning by 3 1/4L from that good yardstick Hoof It. He handles most ground and it will come as no great surprise if he defies his new mark of 106.
The second Nicholls runner Kimberella is also very progressive, winning his first handicap in April 2014 off a mark of 82 and now running off 105. He was particularly impressive when winning a Class2 York handicap (Gd/fm) off a mark of 99 in July. Badly drawn in the Stewards Cup he finished 13th, beaten 4 3/4L off a mark of 103. He fared little better in the Great St Wilfred at Ripon finishing 10th, but the memory of that scintillating York victory remains, and given fast ground could get involved his new mark.
Kevin Ryan has won this three times since 2007, and of his three entries, the 4yo Treuntum Star looks the least exposed. A winner of four of his thirteen starts, he was quite impressive when taking a Newmarket Class2 handicap off a mark of 95 on soft ground on his reappearance in April. Well beaten 19 days later on good, his shrewd trainer put him away until the Autumn, presumably to protect his handicap mark and exploit his preference for soft ground. Nicely treated and best after a break he is definitely one to consider, particularly if Irish maestro Pat Smullen takes the ride.
Richard Fahey’s 4yo gelding Growl is another who put up a fine performance in the Stewards Cup. Drawn out with the washing in stall 26 he had anything but a clear passage and Ryan Moore did well to finish fourth, full of running, only a nose and a head behind Orion’s Bow in second and Raucous in third. He meets the Nicholls horse a pound better at the weekend, and Raucous 5lbs better, so having had a welcome break since Goodwood looks a worthy favourite.
David O’Meara’s 6yo gelding by Pivotal, Watchable, has been campaigned at listed or Group level in his last four races, and indeed finished a very respectable 3rd in a German Group2 last time out. He ran in a handicap at Royal Ascot in June where despite a poor draw finished 5th of 25 racing off a mark of 108. Racing off the same mark on Saturday, and coming from this yard he’s worth a second look.
Only one 3yo (Don’t Touch last year) has won this in the last decade, but W Haggas’s Raucous, a colt by Dream Ahead has plenty to recommend him. Eighth in the Gp3 Jersey stakes at the Royal Meeting, he finished a good 3rd in a Newbury Gp3 behind older horses next time out. Badly drawn in the Stewards Cup he ran a cracker off a mark of 102 to finish third. He ran inexplicably badly next time when a well backed 7/2 2nd fav for a listed race at Headquarters and in the subsequent stewards inquiry nothing came to light. However it often proves wise to forgive a horse one bad run and off his mark of 106 this talented 3yo is worth considering.
If Roger Varian’s Certificate, a 5yo gelding by Pivotal runs here in preference to a lNewbury engagement on Friday he must be of interest. Relatively lightly raced, he has been campaigned over further than 6f and has won his last two races, both over 7f. He travels well, racing up with the pace, so the drop back in distance may not be a disadvantage. Indeed his ability to stay further may prove an asset. More of a concern would be, that on the three occasions he has encountered ground with soft in the going description he has drawn a blank.
E.W. : Orion’s Bow