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NELSON GAY took a few attempts to open his account, but he appears to have turned a corner of late, winning his last two starts on the all-weather at Southwell and Wolverhampton. He proved better than ever on his latest success, reacting well to first-time cheekpieces to win with more in hand than the one and three quarter length margin suggests. The switch back to turf isn’t a concern and he can defy a 7 lb rise.
A cracking renewal of this good three-year-old handicap, featuring several progressive types, but it is RIFLEMAN who gets the nod after making a very promising start to his career last autumn. He is from a good family and looked potentially smart when opening his account at Kempton in November, taking some organising but seeing the race out strongly and value for much more than the winning margin. The handicapper may have taken a chance with an opening mark of 87 and this well-made colt is just the type to excel this season, particularly now stepping up to a mile.
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This looks an excellent race on paper and HIGHEST GROUND is fancied to come out on top. He beat Waldokonig impressively on his return at Haydock last season and was only narrowly denied by Thunderous on his next start in the Dante, going like the best horse at the weights but his inexperience cost him in the closing stages. It is probably best to ignore his final start which came on soft ground and he represents a yard that have an excellent record in this race and are chasing a fourth successive win.
PALACE PIER quickly developed into a top-class miler last season, winning the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and following up in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville. He was underwhelming on his final start in the QEII, but the Gosden team had an indifferent time of it that day, and it is probably best not to take that form at face value. This looks an excellent opportunity for him to kick-start his season and he is very hard to oppose.
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A fascinating renewal of the Classic Trial. TRAWLERMAN clocked a good time when running away with a Ponterfract maiden earlier in the month, staying on very strongly, and this fast improving son of Golden Horn can take this step up in class in his stride for all his comes back in trip. Yibir looks the pick of the Charlie Appleby-trained duo and is feared most, although Zetland Stakes one-two Lone Eagle and Recovery Run are much respected.
This race revolves around CHIASMA, who has an awful lot to live up to being a sister to the outstanding Frankel no less, but she is under the expert tutelage of the Gosden team and is taken to get off to a winning start. Charlie Appleby has his string in fine nick so his Lingfield scorer Nash Nasha, a daughter of Irish 1000 Guineas winner Just The Judge, seems sure to have a say, while Royal Harmony is another eye-catching debutante.
SEA THE SHELLS was impressive in a couple of Wolverhampton minor events earlier in the year, landing the odds in good style last time, and that form is working out nicely. He can progress again and stretch his unbeaten record to three now handicapping from what looks a lenient mark on turf debut. Goodwood novice winner Juan de Montalban appeals as the type to improve again as a three-year-old and can give Mark Johnston’s colt most to think about.
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