The only two to focus on here are Best Solution and Golden Wood. They go at it again after Golden Wood finished a length on top in their January 11 dust-up and there’s a 3lb swing in the weights here to consider.
It’s worth noting that the race then was a big-field handicap. There are only six runners here with no confirmed front-runner.
This should allow Pat Cosgrave to park the bus in front on Best Solution and set tactical fractions to the disadvantage of the rest of the field. With that in mind, I’ll be backing him to reverse the form with Golden Wood.
The race revolves around Alabaster, he’s without question the best horse in the race at the weights.
However, it’s not that straightforward as he has developed a tendency to make a complete mess of the start – something you just can’t do on dirt. Backers will know their fate very early on with him.
Don’t Give Up is only up 4lbs for his latest win over course and distance and has obvious claims, but Saltarin Dubai finally showed a spark of life when runner up that day. He’s 4lbs better off than the length and three-quarters he was beaten, so I’m hoping he can back up that effort off his sliding handicap mark and go one better here.
There’s plenty of collateral form here and most of these have been beating each other, every other week. Dutch Masterpiece and Jordan Sport are having great carnivals, but both are creeping up the weights. One that caught the eye two weeks ago though was Sir Maximillian. He was just short of room at a crucial time, before coming home like a train. He’s 2lbs better off with Jordan Sport on that run and if he gets a clearer path, I reckon he can go very close here.
Gold Town is oceans clear on ratings and ability. He will be odds on though and while he should win, so let’s look for value elsewhere.
The betting w/o market could be the way to play, so Roland Rocks is the selection having ran reasonably well on turf last week. Its dirt run before that suggests he can finish near the favourite here.
Los Barbados benefited from a Adrie De Vries master-class when winning three weeks ago. A few of these were behind him then and while he should be able to dictate from the front again, it could be that bit harder with the rise in the weights and two extra furlongs to contend with.
Prince of Arran can go well, but the eye-catcher was Natural Scenery. He was all the rage in the market that day, but nothing went right in the race and now he gets Christophe Soumillion on board for the first time.
I’m more than happy to give this another chance and believe he’ll leave his mark of 105 well behind going forward.
There’s no Godolphin runner in the lucky last for the first time in recent memory, so everyone gets crack of the whip. That said, I won’t be straying far from the Sheikh’s grain in backing Suyoof here for Hamdan Al Maktoum.
From all Mike de Kock’s horses he was said to have badly needed the run first time out (given the season is two months long, he should really think about getting them fitter). Given he was badly hampered, he ran a cracker to stay on a never-nearer fifth in early January.
He likes to be held up and is drawn in stall one, so Jim Crowley will need to be at the top of his game. I honestly reckon this has the makings of a Group horse and can take this contest along the way.