A really competitive renewal of the Rockfel Stakes and I’m going for Mark Johnson’s runner Festival Day. He’s had some really good two-year-old fillies, with Raffle Prize, Walk On Marrakech and West End Girl. This one has only won a Chepstow maiden, so you might doubt her form, but she broke the track record for two-year-olds when doing it, and that’s been a record long in the making. She also set the fastest seven-furlong time there this year, beating all sorts of quality older horses, and the first day she ran at Goodwood she really should’ve won that race.
She looks like she has the potential to be anything still. I’m happy to take on the even-money favourite Daahyeh here because she had a hard run at the Curragh just 14 days ago, so at the price of 4/1, Festival Day looks your best option.
Some old favourites coming back in the Joel Stakes, including Benbatl, who hasn’t run in a year, and I’m willing to take him on because of that. King of Comedy is the only other Grade 1 horse in the field and his run on his last outing in the Judmonte was really good. He was unfortunate that he couldn’t get a run through with the way the race panned out, and he’s by far the best horse in this.
Dropping back to a mile won’t bother him at all as he has great mile form from the St James’ Palace when he was second to Circus Maximus and was flying at the finish – arguably he should’ve won that day. He’s the Group 1 class here and has no penalty even though it’s a Group 2 because he hasn’t quite got that win at the higher level yet. He’ll be very hard to beat here at 11/10.
A small, competitive field for this and I’m going for the Stuart Williams runner Rhythmic Intent. He’s run a few times on faster ground and has disappointed, but the key today is soft ground. It’s heavy at Haydock and we need soft-ground specialists for the track. A lot of the rest of this field would prefer it much faster.
The last time this horse ran, at Ascot, he was flying at the finish and got blocked – and that was on a good-to-firm surface. At 7/2 he should be there or thereabouts at the finish.
We might be keeping the best ‘til last here in Mount Everest. He’s out for just the second time this season. All last year, he was the Derby horse for Aidan O’Brien last season. He ran for the first time since his setback at Leopardstown on Champions Day this year and ran a brilliant race and was running on really fast. Against this level of competition, he’ll be really hard to beat. Ryan Moore is on him. I think they’re really going to crank him up today, the last day he was just finding his feet. Today is the day. They might have the Arc or the Breeders Cup in mind for him, that’s the kind of quality he has.
He might’ve missed the Derby, but there’s plenty of big days ahead for Mount Everest, starting today at 8/11.