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I am intrigued by what James Given is doing with the former Aidan O’Brien trained Toronto, but even a drop to a mark of 91 is not enough to carry my hard earned. In a field of 15, it is surprising to note that only nine have won over this specialists trip of 7 furlongs.
The red hot Tomfre and Revich will quite rightly have their supporters in a line-up where many of the field are badly out of form. That opens up the race for the Richard Fahey trained youngster HARTSWOOD, who comes here relatively fresh following a light campaign. However, the factor that turned me in his favour is this intermediate distance.
Even on good ground a mile has looked a shade too far for the son of Garswood and like his sire 7 furlongs on a soft surface could turn out to be his optimum trip. The three-year-old may well have needed his run last time out at Leicester to put an edge on him (very heavy ground was also a negative) and he looks a big player off the same rating of 96.
I have already backed Rhythmic Intent for this final big handicap of the turf flat season and he remains outstanding value, but I wanted a second string to my bow and another lightly raced youngster fits the bill in the form of SURREY PRIDE.
Joseph Tuite won this in 2015 with Litigant and he has another unexposed player here. His last run at Newbury was a write off because of the terrible ground conditions (very few horses handled it on the day) and he is worth considering here based on his previous progressive efforts at Newbury, Chester and Newmarket. The best of those runs came in a Class Four event over an extended mile and a quarter at the Roodee, when he easily beat a fair field for that level.
Off a no more than even gallop he then looked a huge eye catcher upped to a mile and a half at Newmarket making good late headway to be beaten just under 8lengths by Kingbrook and he gets a full 10lbs pull with that rival here. I am trusting his trainer that the Berkshire contest didn’t bottom him out and he remains open to further progress on this only his second start at the trip and being by Lope de Vega out of a Hurricane Run mare he should relish it.
The prolific Present Man, winner of this contest in 2017 and 2018, will have the ground to suit and is only 2lbs higher than for that last success. However, it is highly significant that Harry Cobden has chosen to ride the younger horse DANNY WHIZZBANG.
This kind of surface and running fresh are seemingly his main assets, and when he has taken on better company (third to Slate House in the Kauto Star and third to Copperhead in the Reynoldstown) he has looked the best horse through the race – only for the testing ground to find him out on each occasion in the closing stages.
An opening handicap mark of 145 seems very fair, especially with a fair weather forecast. If he were to land this with some panache, he could become a major player in the Ladbrokes Trophy – although, of course, the weather would determine his participation there. Of the other entries, Champagne Court would be interesting if he sees out the extra yardage, while Nicholls’ other runner My Way has no weight at all and remains a work in process despite being a maiden in this sphere on this his 10th chase start.
Get Knotted ran an eye catching race over the course and distance last time out. This is his set-up off what looks a winnable mark of 77 and courtesy of his claimer’s 7lbs allowance, he is now 12lbs below his last winning rating. Mud lovers Cold Stare and the well treated Ptarmigan Ridge (first run for 12 months) also come into the equation, but I can’t resist a play on the unexposed Hughie Morrison runner WITH RESPECT.
This will only be the youngster’s seventh career start and on each occasion he has taken a step forward, culminating in a running on third to Moll’s Memory at Newbury when a faster pace would have seen him even closer. This bigger field should produce that end-to-end gallop he seemingly needs and another four to five pounds improvement should see the son of Gutaifan right in the thick of things at the business end.
With the red hot favourite Vekoma out of the race this is now the most open event on the card, but last year’s Breeder’s Cup Mile eighth DIAMOND OOPS has been reinvented as a speedster and could well be the answer to this tricky contest.
Equally as effective on dirt as turf, he laid down his credentials for this with a couple of Grade Two wins, the first on the grass at Churchill Downs and then last time out over the course and distance when readily beating Empire of Gold for a career best effort. Tactically versatile, I expect the son of Lookin At Lucky to get a lovely tow along as a presser before making his winning run down the home stretch.
His biggest danger could well be the filly Frank’s Rockette and she could be well worth a saver. Winner of four of her last five starts including the Grade Two Prioress Stakes, she gets all the allowances here being a three-year-old filly. Like Patrick Biacone’s charge she is a strong stayer at the trip and will race as a closer.
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