Never Dark has been rather expensive to follow so far, beaten at SPs of 9/4, 4/5, 9/4 and 2/1, but his form is still progressive and he is taken to make a winning handicap debut from an inside draw. He was a close third on his most recent outing at Wolverhampton in March despite overdoing things in front, and the drop to 5f should suit this speedily-bred colt.
Griggy’s form has really taken off this winter, winning four times, and his latest success at Chelmsford in February was his most impressive, hitting the front on the bridle before drawing clear. He was somewhat unfortunate not to follow up here the following week, just edged out having chased an overly-strong pace, and remains very much one to be interested in, with the return to 5f unlikely to be a problem.
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With Gold Wand a non-runner this looks a good opportunity for the beautifully-bred Sun Bear. She was only just edged out by her stablemate at Nottingham on debut in November under a hands-and-heels ride, and that is easily the best form on offer. Dettori is likely to put her experience to good use with plenty of newcomers in opposition, and this longer trip promises to suit being out of an Irish Oaks winner.
It’s not often you see a horse make their debut at listed level, let alone win, but that’s exactly what Born With Pride did at Newmarket in November, making all in a good time and running to a very high level for a newcomer. She’s prominent in the Oaks betting on the back of that performance and is the one to beat, though exciting colts Hypothetical and Max Vega look big dangers.
Oloroso failed to kick on after making a winning reappearance over this course and distance last season so he’s far from certain to build on his very good second here on this year’s comeback. However, the enforced three-month break should be to his advantage given his record fresh, and he’s more than capable of winning off his current mark.
It didn’t take long for Nazeef to reach a smart level after an eye-catching debut at the July Course 12 months ago, easily winning her next three starts, notably when having six lengths in hand on her handicap bow at Newmarket in September. This does look a strong race for the grade, with dual Group 1 winner Billesdon Brook and her stablemate Scentasia heading the dangers, but Nazeef receives weight from that pair, and she has plenty of untapped potential.
Highfaulting had an excellent spell at this venue during the second half of last season, winning twice and runner-up two times in between. He had more in hand than the bare margin suggests for his most recent success in October, and he’s very low mileage for a six-year-old. The progressive Purgatory has won three of his last four starts and is the obvious threat.
Al Daiha went close to shedding her maiden tag on a few occasions this winter, most notably when only just failing to reel in the re-opposing veteran The Warrior at Lingfield three months ago. She’s taken to come out on top this time and open her account. Mystiquestar is well worth another chance to build on her encouraging handicap debut having pulled too hard at Doncaster and is an interesting runner on her belated return.
Fly The Nest is still seeking his first win but he can’t be faulted for his consistency, knocking firmly on the door on all four starts this year, and is likely to go well again despite his wide draw. Glamourous Crescent built up a good record last season, only just losing out here on her latest start, and is another to consider re-united with her former handler.
- Never Dark – 13:00
- Griggy – 13:35
- Sun Bear – 14:10
- Born With Pride – 14:45
- Oloroso – 15:20
- Nazeef – 15:55
- Highfaulting – 16:30
- Al Daiha – 17:05
- Fly The Nest – 17:40