At Lingfield the Classic trials take centre stage. John Gosden has won two of the last three runnings of this Oaks Trial and the pick of his trio this year is Miss Yoda, who won her first two outings in good style and then enhanced her reputation in defeat behind Max Vega in the Zetland Stakes. That is just about the best form on offer.
She is the one to beat.
Ralph Beckett also has a good record in the race and his Heart Reef ought to relish the step up in trip as there is plenty of stamina in her pedigree and looks the main danger.
Sir Michael Stoute is famed for conjuring improvement from horses as they mature and Sangarius, who has made only five starts, looks like one to follow during his four-year-old campaign.
Sangarius has shown promise from the outset, looking potentially something out of the ordinary when winning on debut on the Newmarket July course in 2018. He raced only twice last season but enhanced his reputation when winning the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot, quickening in the style of a horse capable of making his mark at Group 1 level. He looks to have been found a nice introduction and can lay the foundations for a successful season.
A few leading contenders have swerved the Derby Trial, most notably Max Vega and Al Aasy, so it looks a good opportunity for English King to confirm the positive impression he created at Newcastle on his second and final outing last year.
He was held up further back than ideal but produced a nice turn of foot to score under a hands-and-heels ride, seemingly winning with plenty in hand. His pedigree suggests he will improve again for this stiffer test of stamina and he looks the one to side with.
Ghaiyyath has a couple of notable flops on his record, including when fancied in the Arc last season, but wide-margin wins in Germany last season and at Meydan in February suggest he is a horse of rare ability, potentially top-class when everything falls right. He is the horse to beat in an intriguing Coronation Cup, with the addition of star stayer Stradivarius adding plenty of spice.
Stradivarius has dominated the staying division in recent seasons, twice winning connections a £1 million bonus, and only a nose defeat to Kew Gardens in the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day prevented him from going two seasons unbeaten. He has a granite constitution and teak-tough attitude, which has helped him dominate the staying division, but the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot (in which he will be bidding for a hat-trick) is the main early-season objective and he may not be quite sharp enough on his reappearance over a mile and a half to deal with a horse of Ghaiyyath’s talent.
In fact, while Stradivarius has a glittering CV, Ghaiyyath has twice achieved a higher Timeform rating – earning a figure of 129 for his explosive performances in Germany and Dubai.
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