This race revolves around Oxted, last year’s July Cup winner, and is clearly the class of the field but has to prove he’s back to his best after a failed trip to Saudi Arabia. He won this race last year but had a much more orthodox winter break rather than travelling half way across the world and I’d rather let him prove he’s back to his best than take short odds that he is.
Summerghand is my idea of the bet against him. He’s a really likeable horse who arrives in great form and you know he’s going to run his race. He’s run well on all of his three starts on the Rowley Mile and will love the quick ground. He won last year’s Stewards Cup off a mark of 108 and if there’s any little chink in Oxted’s armour, Summerghand may cause a bit of an upset.
This is a decent renewal of the Craven Stakes, despite cutting up from earlier in the week and it’s great to see both of Charlie Appleby’s horses turn up here. They both bring good form to the table but Devilwala is the one for me.
I think he’s been overlooked a bit and that fourth place in the Dewhurst looks as strong as Master Of The Seas run in the Curragh behind the same horses, especially given the strong pace that Devilwala set that day at Newmarket. We know he handles the track well off that evidence, but the mile trip remains the one slight doubt with him.
You can forgive his run at the Breeders Cup as a lot that went wrong. He was drawn very wide, missed the kick really badly and was left way out the back, travelling too keen in a slowly run race. To his credit he plugged on and wasn’t disgraced. There was enough late on to give you some hope that he might see out a stronger run mile. If he does, the level of form he brings to the table is well up there.
Ralph Beckett is normally a trainer who goes well at this time of year and I’d expect him to have Devilwala primed for a massive run.
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There’s plenty of untapped potential and some well handicapped horses as you would expect for a three-year-old handicap at this time of year. Balearic is one that squeezes in down towards the bottom of the weights and despite an 8lb hike after winning at Newcastle, still has a lot of scope off a mark of 76.
That was his first effort in handicap company, also he had blinkers on for the first time. The race is already working out quite well as he favourite pulled six and a half lengths clear of everything else. The horse in fourth that day has already won quite well off the same mark since.
Balearic is stepping back up to a mile for the first time since his debut which looks like it should suit him given how strong he was in the finish on his last start. He strikes me as one who is better than his mark of 76 and can be upwardly mobile in handicap company.
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