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EL DRAMA looked a good prospect when making a winning debut at Doncaster in October, overcoming greenness to land the spoils by half a length. That form has worked out well – the third, fourth and fifth have all won since – and El Drama took a step forward in his own right when third on his reappearance in a Listed race at Lingfield last month.
Settled in touch in the early stages, he held every chance entering the final furlong and stuck to his task well to be beaten just a length-and-a-half behind Apollo One and Megallan (who has won at Listed level since).
A repeat of that effort is likely to put El Drama right in the mix here, while the small ‘p’ attached to his Timeform rating denotes that he is still open to more improvement, especially now stepping up to a mile. This looks a good opportunity for him to resume winning ways.
STARCZEWSKI has taken his form to another level on his last couple of starts, defying a BHA mark of 78 over this course and distance in February and then improving again to follow up from 4lbs higher in the weights at Wolverhampton last time. He only won by half a length at Wolverhampton, but was arguably value for extra – doing well to overcome the run of the race (held up in a steadily-run affair).
Admittedly, this represents by far the toughest test of Starczewski’s career to date, but there is every chance he’ll prove up to the task from only 2lbs higher in the weights than last time. The runner-up Margaret Dumont has certainly done her bit for the form by winning her next start, while Starczewski appeals as the type to go on improving and is still relatively unexposed as a stayer after all.
DESERT SAFARI shaped well when third in a competitive sprint handicap at York on his final start of last season, faring best of those who raced prominently. He travelled fluently and kept on well after finding himself upsides the leaders entering the final furlong, ultimately being beaten 3-and-a-half lengths into third behind the smart Gulliver.
That effort demonstrated that Desert Safari is effective on turf, but he has done most of his racing in small-field events on the all-weather – with his three career wins all coming under such conditions. This race looks certain to play to his strengths as a result, while he showed enough on the Knavesmire to suggest he is still on a good mark. He remains open to more improvement too, having been gelded ahead of his reappearance as a four-year-old.
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