NOT SO SLEEPY (3.35) improved at a rate of knots over hurdles last season and is entitled to go very close in the Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket.
Hughie Morrison’s gelding ran fourth in the race 12 months ago but has probably improved a few pounds in the interim. Not So Sleepy returned from a break bursting with energy, powering almost five lengths clear of in-form favourite Dark Jedi at Pontefract 16 days ago, and revels on soft ground.
Summer Moon shoulders top weight but ran a cracker when third last year at loud odds. Mark Johnston’s gelding is far better drawn this year and could hit the frame at a nice price. Willie Mullins is always to be feared and Great White Shark impressed when last seen landing the Guinness Handicap Hurdle at Galway in July. He was only tenth last year but judging from the betting market, better things are clearly expected. Coltrane is on a four-timer for Andrew Balding and Oisin Murphy, and the manner of his clear-cut success in the Melrose Handicap at York marked him down as a most progressive stayer.
Aspirants for next year’s 2000 Guineas/Derby are on parade in the Dewhurst Stakes and Joseph O’Brien’s THUNDER MOON (2.55) can extend his unbeaten run. The colt was hampered over a furlong out but still managed to land the National Stakes from Wembley and St Mark’s Basilica at the Curragh. Richard Hannon’s Chindit has won all three starts, beating Albasheer in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster four weeks ago. Stablemate Etonion also boasts a 100 per cent winning record from two outings at Sandown.
The Group 3 Autumn Stakes over a mile pitches Charlie Appleby’s ONE RULER (2.20) into the fray against Ballydoyle’s Van Gogh and Sir Michael Stoute-trained Maximal. One Ruler had the measure of Maximal at Sandown before recording a slightly disappointing third to New Mandate at Doncaster. It took Van Gogh five runs before getting off the mark at the Curragh last month and the colt may be an O’Brien late developer.
At York, the powerful William Haggas and Danny Tudhope northern axis team up with the Queen’s LIGHT REFRAIN (2.00) in the Rockingham Stakes. The filly posted two fine efforts in defeat before landing short odds with little fuss at Newcastle and her 3lb sex allowance comes in handy. Regional produced an excellent fourth in a Listed contest at Ayr and is feared.
SPIRIT DANCER (2.35) should go well in the Coral-sponsored 1m 2f handicap. Richard Fahey scooped the pot with a similar three-year-old last year and Winter Power’s close second to First Impression at Ayr’s Western meeting gives the son of Frankel a solid each-way chance. He likes to race prominently and is closely matched with likely favourite Ilaraab on his debut run at Wolverhampton in August. Crystal Pegasus has clicked into gear lately and is on the upgrade. Matthew Flinders must also enter calculations on the strength of his second to Roberto Escobarr and a more recent Doncaster victory. Some firms are offering four places each-way.
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