Archie Watson’s juveniles are usually primed to run well on their debuts, so Captain Magnum has to be seriously considered. Thunder Of Niagara is another likely type on paper but John Gosden has a fantastic strike-rate with his 2yos at this venue and his THIRD KINGDOM gets the vote.
Quite an interesting heat featuring a few more unexposed types than would often be the case in an older horse handicap here. FORTAMOUR appeared to have a bit up his sleeve when making his second handicap start a winning one over C&D in January and is selected to make light of a 5lb rise. Modakhar is another who has ventured into handicap company only twice so far and should have more to offer. Tadleel is of interest on his first start for Richard Fahey, particularly if backed, while his former stablemate Global Warning scored comfortably on his only previous visit here and may get his career back on track having been gelded.
John Gosden’s Daarik could well progress again now gelded after a 414-day absence but that’s surely to be reflected in his price and better value may lie with VITRALITE who did well to finish so close against the bias at Newmarket last time. All three Middleham Park Racing representatives have prospects, especially Red Bond, who bolted up here last time. Stall 1 has a very poor recent record in big fields over C&D, making life tough for progressive AW performer Aljari.
A good, competitive renewal. The front-running WITHHOLD won the 2018 Northumberland Plate on his sole previous run here and if resuming at the same level as when winning a valuable Newbury handicap on last season’s reappearance, will have sound prospects of another big payday. Mildenberger may be next best ahead of Royal Line, with Ispolini and Nayef Road shortlist material too.
The standout horse is PALACE PIER, who won well in both starts last season before his season then was curtailed with a leg injury. A Group 1 target was being seriously considered prior to that, which suggests that this colt may well be significantly better than this opening mark of 98. He can maintain his unbeaten record, possibly at the main expense of Acquitted.
Selected and Stitcher enter calculations on pedigree but IDENTIFIED very much looks the part on paper and may prove the answer.
Richard Fahey saddles a couple of interesting contenders in Araifjan and Precocity, while another handicap debutant in Red Hot Streak also needs a good look in the betting. OLCAN appeals as the type to improve this year though and he gets the tentative vote in a trappy race.
Longroom should win more races for this yard off his current mark and he’s a major player but QUANAH (nap) ran well in a better race here on Monday and can continue on his upward curve for this yard. Landing Night may prove best of the rest.
A chance is taken on FIESOLE who wasn’t disgraced in a couple of runs on AW late in 2019 and has scope off this mark on his classy hurdle form. Colony Queen did very well for Steve Gollings last year and also makes the shortlist along with Firewater and Benadalid
Cases can be made for a few of these. Jackamundo is back in trip for his AW debut but he was making good progress in 2019. Gabrials Boy, Pour Me A Drink and Global Art can go well but AEGEUS could benefit from the return to 1m2f and he can gain a second course success.