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Full credit to Nickle Back at Warwick as he was incredible from the front and jumped like a stag. It was frustrating to watch as no one got close to him and they let him get a 15L+ lead, making it near impossible to challenge him. Hyland won the other race that I put Alexandra Romanov up and he did well after a layoff, my selection didn't exactly jump the best but was given every chance but didn't have enough in the tank to challenge.
Fontwell 2:55 – Up The Straight 5/1 (1pt)
There are a few in this race who are on a winnable mark, but they don't really catch the eye like Up The Straight does who has clearly set this as his seasonal starter target.
He ran in this race last year when it was just three runners, which saw him run a creditable race as he finished 2nd and not a million miles away. He is running off an 8lb lower mark in this year's renewal and when you combine that with the fact he has previously won off a mark of 127 last April in a Class 2 and he gets the ground he enjoys, I think he could be difficult to beat as long as Sacre Coeur isn't ridiculously well-handicapped now sent back over fences. Since the run in this race last year he was sent over 3m for the majority of the season which isn't what he wants as he seemed to struggle over that trip, and his only run over today's trip was on soft ground, which he isn't the best on, but as a result, he has dropped down the handicap and now he gets his ideal conditions he can be forgiven.
I deem Sacre Coeur to be the main danger and I wouldn't read too much into Harry Skelton not taking the ride as Tristan Durrell rode him last time out and claims 5lbs. The fact he hasn't been seen over fences all too often since when he came from France suggests his technique isn't the strongest and though Dan Skelton can work miracles with newcomers, I think he can be taken on.
Ascot 3:57 – Naqeeb 15/8 (1pt)
This is a very good Listed race for the 3yo's, but one could progress past this field is Naqeeb.
I'm fairly certain Middle Earth will be better than a Listed horse in the future but I'd be very concerned about his last run in the St Leger, not because he didn't perform that good on soft ground, but that it was a tough race for him and it's quite a quick turnaround. Middle Earth beat Naqeeb when the pair met at Newmarket's July course a couple of months ago but based on that run and now they're running over 14f I think Naqeeb can easily reverse that form. When they met it looked like Naqeeb didn't have the same speed as Middle Earth but he was starting to come back at the winner at the line and I think the added 2f will be suited to Naqeeb.
Naqeeb is related to Baeed and Hukum, I'm not for one minute suggesting he'll replicate anywhere near the same level of form as his half-brothers but when you've got a pedigree that good it's always a very good indicator off how good they could possibly be.
Fontwell - 2:55 pm
5/1 @ PaddyPower
Ascot - 3:57 pm