ZABEEL CHAMPION came up short in his hat-trick bid at Goodwood last time, but he shaped encouragingly under the circumstances, digging deep under pressure to be beaten only three-quarters of a length.
His strength at the finish suggests he will be suited by stepping up to a mile and a half, so a further 3lb rise in the weights might not be enough to prevent him from bringing up his third win of the season.
NAYEF ROAD has developed into a very smart stayer in three starts this season, notably filling the runner-up spot behind Stradivarius in both the Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup.
He certainly deserves to get his head back in front, and this looks as good an opportunity as any, with the form of his recent efforts just about setting the standard on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings.
MINZAAL stepped up on his debut form to get off the mark with the utmost ease at Salisbury last time, always travelling strongly and quickly forging clear in the final furlong to land the spoils by four lengths.
Admittedly, the form of that race is nothing out of the ordinary, but both the time and the sectionals point to it being a useful effort. When you factor in his scope for more improvement, then it is no surprise that he is right up there at the head of the betting for this Group 2.
BATTAASH was below form in both the 2017 and 2018 renewals of this race, but he put those disappointments behind him with an exhilarating display 12 months ago, lowering Dayjur’s track record that had stood for 29 years.
That performance earned him a Timeform rating of 136 – higher than any other horse currently in training – and he has won both starts this season without needing to run to the same level, including when winning the King George Stakes at Goodwood for the fourth year in a row.
He broke his own track record on that occasion, and it goes without saying that he’ll continue to take plenty of beating if anywhere near his best.
NAVAL CROWN finished third on his debut at Newmarket and then ran at least as well when filling the same position in a Listed event at Ascot last time, travelling strongly before being left behind in the final furlong (ultimately beaten three and a quarter lengths).
That form comfortably sets the standard now dropping back into a maiden, and Naval Crown seems sure to take plenty of beating with further progress not out of the question.
WALIYAK showed improved form when second on her handicap debut in the Sandringham at Royal Ascot, arguably shaping better than the bare result given that she raced on the opposite flank to the winner.
She took another step forward when finding only Chamade too good at Goodwood last time, and, now 5lb better off at the weights with that rival, it will be disappointing if she can’t reverse the placings, especially as she may yet have even more to offer.
FINEST SOUND ran right up to his best when third at Newmarket last time, doing well to hang around for as long as he did after racing freely without cover in the first half of the contest.
He left the impression he’s still ahead of his mark and remains one to be interested in, with a mile on rain-softened ground likely to play to his strengths (previously second in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot when conditions were similar).
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