There were a few sights to behold in Halifax on Thursday night, as the good, the bad and the ugly all piled into the town centre to watch England limp to a very satisfactory 1-0 loss to the mighty Belgium.
Knight to Behold (16/1) ran like a fresher student who’d had too many WKD Blues when well beaten in the Derby at Epsom last time, doing far too much too soon, but is better rated on his previous form.
He set good foundations at two, second to White Mocha at Newbury prior to winning at Newmarket by a neck from Bow Street, but took his form to a new level when winning the Derby Trial at Lingfield.
He beat Royal Ascot winner Kew Gardens by over three lengths there, man of the moment Frankie Dettori has been booked for the ride, and a much better run is expected at decent odds in the Irish Derby at 17:15.
The 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior is the clear one to beat on Timeform ratings, despite having to turn around the form with Dee Ex Bee, who finished ahead of him in the Derby.
Connections of the latter must be confident of a big run, having stumped up – along with the connections of Old Persian and Platinum Warrior – €100,000 to supplement their horse for the race, but Saxon Warrior is rated much better than he could show at Epsom last time, and had previously looked better than a bacon sandwich on a hangover when winning at Newmarket.
Elsewhere on the Curragh card, the Rockingham handicap produced a thrilling finish last year and another close-fought affair is expected at 14:15.
For once, English trainers are trying to pilfer a pot, and the Paul Midgley-trained pair of Move In Time and Line of Reason are both lively contenders.
The former did well under the circumstances when fourth to Caspian Prince at Musselburgh last time, faring best of those held up, while the latter caught the eye of Timeform’s race reporters when taking his revival up a notch at Beverley last time.
Though Aidan O’Brien dominated the Railway Stakes (16:35) at the start of the century, he’s had less joy than an Eastenders episode in recent years, with just one win since 2009.
That may change this year, though, as Land Force looks the one to beat if reproducing his close-up third in last week’s Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He was possibly at a disadvantage in racing in the smaller group towards the stand side there and is fancied to get the better of stablemate – and Windsor Castle fourth – Van Beethoven, who might have to play second fiddle once again.