DESERT ENCOUNTER (2.15) must have a big chance in an exciting renewal of the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup at Newbury.
Like many of Halling’s progeny Desert Encounter has got better with age and David Simcock’s five-year-old ran probably his best race in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown when filling the minor place behind Ulysses and Barney Roy.
He will also find this easier than his last assignment when sixth to Enable in the King George. Earlier in the season Desert Encountered mopped up a competitive Ascot handicap by almost three lengths on quick ground and is 3lb better off with Second Step for a narrow defeat at Goodwood. He enjoys weaving a passage through horses and probably saw too much daylight that day in a five-runner contest.
Second Step has since landed the August Stakes at Windsor, with one of today’s rivals Across The Stars trailing home last. Second Step has to enter the equation.
Dylan Mouth was a clear-cut winner of the Bet365 Old Newton Cup at Haydock in early July and much-improved sixth horse Fabricate is now 12lb worse off. Godolphin’s globe-trotting Secret Number has to concede weight all round.
ERIK THE RED (3.25) is a big price to land the 20-runner Dubai Duty Free Handicap.
Kevin Ryan’s gelding comes out slightly superior at the weights with Euginio and Al Neksh on a line through Another Eclipse and is at his very best in big fields.
Erik The Red’s third to Fidaawy at York was a fine effort and he is 5lb better off with the winner. Fidaawy clearly has the form to follow up but there is a big discrepancy in their odds. Erik The Red ended last season with a narrow defeat in the Betfred November Handicap, so stamina is no issue, and in-form Fran Berry takes over from regular jockey Kevin Stott.
The last two runnings of the Mill Reef Stakes have seen victories for Harry Angel and Ribchester but I doubt if there is anything of that quality on show this time round.
JAMES GARFIELD (2.50) was beaten on the nod by Wells Farhh Go in the Acomb Stakes at York and the drop to six furlongs should see him go close.
Frankie Dettori rode a peach that day, kicking James Garfield a couple of lengths clear over a furlong out and he was only nabbed on the line. His form earlier in the year when encountering today’s quick conditions was first class. He landed his maiden at Doncaster by six lengths after running third to Sound And Silence in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. That’s a fair standard.
Favourite Invincible Army smashed the track record when reeling in quicksilver Corinthia Knight at Kempton two weeks ago and is a must for any shortlist.
Seventeen speed machines go to post for the Group 3 sprint and JUDICIAL (4.00) could upset several more fancies opponents.
Running in the Elite Racing Club colours, Judicial has been in cracking form this season. He found the softer ground against him last time when second to Kimberella at Chester and finished on the heels of winner Take Cover and third placed Cotai Glory in a Listed event at York.
Those two are vying for favouritism today but Judicial was at a disadvantage emerging from an outside berth in stall one on the Knavesmire. He should get plenty of cover from stall seven here and could cause an upset at an each-way price.
GALACTIC PRINCE (4.35) should also go off at decent odds in the 1m 4f handicap.
Andrew Balding’s three-year-old has crept in at the foot of the weights but shaped well last time at Chester when no match for Key Bid. His earlier third to Bin Battuta and Cape Cross at Ascot was a useful effort.
Weekender, a son of Frankel, has been making steady progress since finishing third to Laraaib and Atty Perse at Haydock in May. He rates a big danger, although many of Frankel’s ‘boys’ prefer a little juice in the ground.