The Group 2 Norfolk Stakes is a burn-up as we have two-year-olds that have broken track records in previous races and an American trained-speedster in Golden Pal – and this will be exciting.
Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal has been catching the eye on the Newmarket gallops and this son of Uncle Mo set blistering fractions when getting run out of it late at Gulfstream on debut 63 days ago, but he has had lots of time to recover from those exertions and Ward knows what it takes to train a Royal Ascot winner.
Michael Bell’s The Lir Jet smashed the course record at Yarmouth when making a winning debut over 5f and was super impressive in doing so. He was subsequently sold to Qatar Racing for a tidy sum so they must fancy their chances.
Eye of Heaven lowered the track record of the the two-year-olds at Newmarket win where Tactical was unlucky-in-running third behind him. Trainer Mark Johnston was very bullish about him after the race and he is a big, strong, colt who should be able to cope on rain-softened ground.
That form got a big boost when Tactical won at this meeting earlier in the week.
Jojo Rabbit made no mistake at Wolverhampton having being narrowly beaten at Lingfield first time up while Lippizaner is Aidan O Brien’s representative and the return to 5f should suit as he was mugged late on at Naas over 6f.
Richard Hughes is convinced Nelson Gay has a big chance and felt he got star-struck at Yarmouth behind The Lir Jet and is much better than he showed. Could be worth an each-way play.
Verdict: EYE OF HEAVEN to win it with Nelson Gay worth an each-way play at the prices.
Defoe won this Hardwicke Stakes last year but looked very rusty when well down the field against Ghaiyyath and Anthony Van Dcyk at Newmarket. This slower ground will suit him better but they will think the same with Anthony Van Dcyk who last year’s Derby winner and looked like he was going to be a player in a lot of the middle distance races this season. The Aidan O’Brien camp must feel they have a very strong chance in this.
Elarqam went down by a whisker to St James’s Palace Stake winner Lord North at Haydock on reappearance and that form looks really strong now. It’s the first time he has raced over 1m 4f, but he could be a real player. It will open up plenty of avenues for him if he can win.
Anthony Balding’s Morando is a very interesting runner. He has run some very good races and could certainly hit the frame. Fanny Logan does not look up to winning this but you dismiss the Gosden / Dettori combo at your peril.
Verdict: I’ll have ELARQAM to win.
The Commonwealth Cup has been a really good addition to the meeting and this renewal is a competitive event. Pierre Lapin won twice as a two-year-old and looked like he would improve at three.
Irish challenger Lope Y Fernandez was only run out of it close home in the Irish 2,000 Guineas last weekend. This is a quick turnaround but in an era where stallions are so valuable, his market value will leap if he can win this as it shows how tough he is!
Golden Horde mixed it against the top two-year-olds last season and beat Threat at Goodwood. His trainer Clive Cox did brilliantly with Lethal Force. Kimari represents Frankie Dettori and Wesley Ward, and was just touched off in the Queen Mary Stakes last season.
Southern Hills broke his maiden tag at this meeting last year in the Windsor Forest Stakes, but hasn’t run since. French challenger Wooded looked good when winning at Chantilly last month.
Jessica Harrington’s Millisle was very disappointing in the Newmarket 1,000 Guineas and needs to bounce back to get competitive in this.
Verdict: I fancy GOLDEN HORDE to deliver for Clive Cox and Adam Kirby.
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