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The Gallinule Stakes is the last chance saloon for potential Epsom Derby players and the history of this race was kick started in future superstar style when the likes Alleged, Ardross and Assert were victorious. However, recent renewals have had absolutely no effect on the big race.
The key to this year’s renewal could be a maiden at Naas way back in November when Taipan went through the field like a hot knife through butter when accounting for his rivals 17, with the selection a staying on, but a never dangerous fourth.
The winner has run two solid trials behind Bolshoi Ballet at Leopardstown into a never threatening third and fifth. On both occasions, off a slack pace, he was badly outpaced turning for home before belatedly staying on down the home stretch. He would have been the selection on deep ground over a mile-and-a-half, but even this heavy ground test may not be enough to bring his stamina into play.
MAX MAYHEM has taken a forward step from that maiden and opened his account at his third time of asking with a commanding victory at Roscommon. The form of that contest doesn’t amount to much, but it was the manner of the success which caught my eye. This deeper ground on a stiffer track should bring about further improvement and give him a realistic chance of reversing that maiden form from last year.
Short-priced favourite Broome has been campaigned very differently this season by Aidan O’Brien, being eased back into action with two workmanlike wins in slightly lesser contests. However, I am not so sure that he really wants deep ground as he takes on better horses and I much prefer to play the each-way game here.
Derby hero Serpentine has both the action and the history of being a good ground horse, which leads me in the direction CAYENNE PEPPER in a dead eight race. This classy filly has a cracking record when fresh and was super consistent at the backend of last year, when second in the Pretty Polly and Irish Oaks followed by a much deserved success in the Group Two Blandford Stakes.
Her final run of the season when down the field in the Filly and Mare Turf in the Breeders Cup is readily consigned to the dustbin as she had to take a wide route all the way around Keeneland and was a beaten horse turning for home. This scenario suits her so much better, and the daughter of Australia looks the best value play in this year’s renewal.
So many questions to try and answer in this fillies’ classic. How ready to go will the scopey Pretty Gorgeous be and will this mile be enough of a test for her? Is Miss Amulet really a sprinter in the making? And is there a big price lurker hiding away in the field of 14 ready to spring a surprise?
I will shocked if the favourite is not ready to run her heart out here despite it being at the start of a long hard season and I do believe Miss Amulet won’t see out this demanding mile and could revert to taking on the speedsters at Royal Ascot.
However, I don’t want to take the short price about Joseph O’Brien’s market leader and I was torn between an each-way play on stablemate Sense of Style and the Harrington duo’s Zaffy’s Pride and NO SPEAK ALEXANDER. The latter readily accounted for Zaffys Pride in the Circus Maximus over 7 furlongs last time out.
Although the runner-up was keeping on nicely at the finish, I recking that the selection has that bit more class and her higher cruising speed will enable her to get a better early position, which is so important in the race. I also believe that she will be a definitive miler through the remainder of the season whereas the other two fillies are sure to take another step forward when they are placed over a mile-and-a-quarter and beyond.
Three of the last four races on the card are tough handicaps, but this two-miler represented a really good each-way play in a field full of fit hurdlers returning to the level. I have been waiting for Pemple to step up to 2m and on good or good to soft and he would have been the selection. But, he is a typical Lope De Vega and may struggle to see this out on really deep ground.
Of the hurdlers Lynwood Gold, Dalton Highway and Brazos all have solid enough claims, but it is the least exposed hurdler in the line-up that gets the nod. I thought COLTOR was a massive eye-catcher in the Boodles at the Cheltenham Festival, keeping on strongly from the home turn to finish fifth after being outpaced coming down the hill.
Eventually beaten a closing 6 lengths by the shock winner Jeff Kidder, Dermot Weld decided to put him away thereafter and instead chose to pursue a staying Flat campaign starting here.
Winner of an 11-furlong maiden on his last flat start in October on soft ground, that kind of test would have been at the sharp end of his radar. The son of Free Eagle is set to make his handicap debut here off a mark of just 84 and I will be hugely surprised if he doesn’t rate close to three figures by the back end of this Flat season and become a genuine Cesarewitch and/or black type player.
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