LOOK CLOSELY (4.10) appears a middle-distance handicapper to follow this season and he is fancied to hit the ground running at Newmarket.
Roger Varian's gelding chased home Cape Cavalli in a Goodwood Novice Stakes in September before hacking up by six lengths three weeks later on handicap debut at Leicester over today's longer 1m 4f trip. The assessor hasn't missed Look Closely with a 12lb rise but there could well be more in the locker now granted a stiffer test of stamina.
The action certainly moves up a gear and Ghaiyyath, after producing a sensational performance in Dubai over the winter, puts his reputation on the line in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes.
Charlie Appleby’s big-race favourite destroyed Spotify by more than eight lengths at Meydan in February and returns to a course over which he won twice earlier in his career.
Defoe cut down Kew Gardens to land a thrilling renewal last year when the race was run at its traditional Epsom base and is a danger on the back of a narrow defeat in Meydan.
Stradivarius may be caught out by this significant drop in trip but won the hearts and minds of most racing enthusiasts by racking up ten straight victories before being pipped by Kew Gardens on Champions Day last autumn. He is not short of speed and fast ground suits perfectly.
Anthony Van Dyck, last year’s Investec Derby winner, will appreciate the decent ground and is likely to outrun his odds in a tantalising contest. I'm in a quandary and will see how the market develops before committing to a bet.
SANGARIUS (3.00) has never been risked on firm ground so Sir Michael Stoute will be hoping for a few showers ahead of the Listed Paradise Stakes. This mile trip is also on the sharp side but if Sangarius can reproduce the form of his storming Hampton Court Stakes success at Royal Ascot he will outclass this field.
Lord Tennyson is unexposed, having little trouble in making a successful debut for John Gosden at Chelmsford City. Mythical Magic is consistent but usually finds one too good, while Escobar steps up in class after demolishing 19 rivals in the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot. Prince Eiji is a lightly-raced type open to improvement, while Marie’s Diamond is likely to take them along at a decent clip. This is an ideal starting off point for Sangarius.
The Classic trials at Lingfield are both trappy contests. Berkshire Rocco outran his 16-1 odds when placed behind Max Vega and Miss Yoda at Newmarket last autumn and should go well in the Derby Trial for in-form combo Andrew Balding and Oisin Murphy. Max Vega did little to advertise the form at Kempton on Wednesday, however, and it is worth chancing Mark Johnston’s KING’S CAPER (3.15) at a more attractive price. The stable is in rampant form and Franny Norton may well be able to dictate his own tempo up front.
King Carney has scored twice on soft ground at Nottingham and Pontefract, and probably needs to find a little extra. At bigger odds, Sounds Of Cannons has form in better class, fading into fifth behind Aidan O’Brien’s Royal Dornoch in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at HQ last September. English King had four lengths in hand of Tuesday’s easy Kempton scorer Galsworthy when they clashed at Newcastle and Ed Walker’s colt is worthy of respect.
Miss Yoda is trading a short odds in the Oaks Trail and the Gosden yard never leave a stone unturned. Max Vega gave her 3lb and a three lengths beating in the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket last October, which is a worry, and WEST END GIRL (2.40) would have a big shout if recapturing the form of her Sweet Solera Stakes success. The Johnston-trained filly went off the boil later in the season but may be best caught fresh.
Lake Lucerne’s Chelmsford City triumph didn’t tell us much, while Heart Reef’s two runs last year came on deep ground. She is open to improvement on this sounder surface.