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The brilliant Battaash has sprinkled stardust on the five-furlong division in recent years, but there has not been a standout performer over six furlongs since Muhaarar retired at the end of 2015. The big prizes have been shared around but in Starman we again have a colt capable of stamping his dominance on the division.
Starman came a long way in a short space of time last season, winning a strong listed race at York less than two months after making his debut. He seemingly got stuck in the mud in the Champions Sprint Stakes but that has been the one backwards step in a career that has otherwise followed a sharp upward curve.
He was certainly impressive on his reappearance in the Duke of York Stakes last week, making smooth headway before knuckling down well to see off a more experienced rival, ultimately scoring with a bit in hand. He is already a high-class performer – rated 126 by Timeform, only 2 lb lower than leading sprinter Battaash – and could still have more to offer, so he is a very exciting prospect.
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Al Aasy among the best in training
William Haggas has made no secret of the regard in which he holds Al Aasy and the colt is starting to justify that faith. He impressed on his return in the John Porter at Newbury last month and was even better in the Al Rayyan Stakes over the same course and distance on Saturday, powering through the race on the bridle, moving like a horse of the highest calibre.
He won hard held and there is little doubt he is up to making his mark at Group 1 level. In fact, his rating of 128 is bettered by only four horses in training – Palace Pier (132), Mishriff (131), Stradivarius (130) and Addeybb (129).
Teona a dark horse for Epsom Oaks
Snowfall was cut to 4/1 second favourite for the Oaks after winning the Musidora Stakes by three and three-quarter lengths, and that was one of the best performances posted by a three-year-old filly – her rating of 109 puts her only 2 lb behind stablemate and favourite Santa Barbara.
However, whereas Santa Barbara still has the ‘p’ attached to her rating to suggest improvement is expected, Snowfall was seen to maximum effect at York, allowed to dictate a steady gallop under Ryan Moore. She needs to improve around half a stone to win a typical renewal of the Oaks and it’s not easy to see where that significant improvement is going to come from.
The best prospect in the race was third-placed Teona. She found the Musidora coming too soon in her development – she had only raced in maiden company – and essentially pulled her chance away, but she did well to get competitive in the straight and appeals as the type to improve significantly for the experience.
She is clearly held in high regard having been well backed for the Oaks beforehand, and her maiden form is working out well (the horse she slammed by nine lengths won a competitive handicap at York).
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