* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
JOHN LEEPER is bred in the purple (by Frankel out of the multiple Group 1 winner Snow Fairy) and duly offered plenty to work on when fourth on his debut at Doncaster in September. Held up in the early stages, he was briefly outpaced two furlongs out which left him with plenty to do. However, he made eye-catching late headway despite not getting a clear run entering the final furlong, ultimately passing the post only 3-and-a-quarter lengths behind the winner.
That form puts him right in the mix here, while the small ‘p’ attached to his Timeform rating denotes that he is open to more improvement – especially now stepping up to a mile-and-a-quarter. Therefore, John Leeper rates a confident selection to get off the mark at the second attempt under Hollie Doyle.
RANCHERO made his debut in what looked a strong novice event at Kempton two weeks ago, with plenty of well-bred sorts representing top yards featuring in the line-up. Ranchero was relatively easy to back but shaped well in finding only one good for John and Thady Gosden, looking a banker for a similar event with the experience under his belt.
He raced keenly just behind the leaders and held every chance when produced to challenge over a furlong out, sticking to his task well from there to be beaten just a length by a previous winner carrying a penalty.
That form is comfortably superior to anything his 13 rivals here have achieved, so Ranchero really should take all the beating, with further progress on the cards for a yard with an excellent record at Newcastle.
WALHAAN is on a losing run stretching back to November 2018 – when trained in France by Jean-Claude Rouget – but there is no doubt he is on a good mark now starting out for another new yard. He spent last season with Ian Williams and very much caught the eye on a couple of occasions, producing his best effort when second in a useful handicap at Ascot in September.
Crucially, Walhaan is now 1lb lower in the weights than he was then, so it’s easy to make the case for him if the switch to James Tate can get him back on track. It will be interesting whether the market speaks in his favour in a wide-open contest, with an each-way bet appealing as the best option at the current prices.
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