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I had this lightly raced five-year-old as a runner in the Golden Mile later in the week, but once the rains came connections were always going to give OUZO a chance to have only his second career start in 18 outings over a mile-and-a-quarter.
On breeding you would think that the selection has every chance of seeing out the trip and the one time he tried it, under six lengths off the classy Ilaraab at Newbury, he just found the drying ground against him.
There is little doubt that his fine fourth in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot followed by a close up fifth at Salisbury gives him solid claims here, but I would just want to see him ridden with a bit more restraint. At the Wiltshire track, the five-year-old was a bit free, saw too much daylight and at the end game he was merely outpaced, but not outstayed.
He clearly likes to get his toe into the ground because his form figures on good to soft or softer read 421415, the last of those being the Salisbury run. But, even more interesting, is the fact that when settled more mid divivision than racing as a pure presser, he tends to relax more and have plenty of running left in the tank.
Of course, this is a mightily competitive event, and I am most fearful of the well-weighted Lucander (ran too freely in the John Smith’s at York) and Migration, who was ahead of our selection at Salisbury last time out. I will be having a saver on the latter and advise you do so too, but the David Menuisier charge has pretty much been found in the market place following that eye-catching run. I am hoping that Ouzo can reverse that form upped in trip and buried in mid-pack.
These kind of middle distance three-year-old events are normally the domain of Mark Johnston at Glorious Goodwood, and he has no less than four of the 14 entries set to run. However, I reckon his team will be eclipsed by both Nagano and KOLISI. The first named had a simply horrendous passage in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot and just when he was getting into top gear, he was squeezed out turning for home. He is a big player here.
However, the selection is an unexposed horse going places and despite his lack of experience, the son of Harzand could be absolutely thrown in here off a mark of 87 on his first attempt at a mile-and-a-half. I loved the way that he went through the contest to land his maiden at Salisbury, looking hugely professional and then quickening clear at the distance before being eased right down by Tom Marquand a long way from home.
The handicapper is merely guessing as to his complete talent, but the Godolphin horse he battered that day went on to win his maiden by three-and-a-half lengths and runs in the mile-and-a-quarter three-year-old handicap on Thursday.
This could easily have been a Richard Hannon benefit bet and I am certainly going to have a back-up interest in this ultra-competitive Golden Mile Handicap on the 2019 winner Beat Le Bon, who is finally back down to that same winning handicap mark.
He will be ridden cold at the back of the pack in the hope that the leaders go hell for leather, just as they did two years ago before firing home. You could actually argue that he performed even better in defeat Down Under when Hannon sent him to the Golden Eagle at Rosehill. He came from miles back to finish sixth beaten less than four lengths after being 15 lengths off the pace two-and-a-half furlongs out and earned £55k for that placing. Don’t even get me going on the prize money differential here! But, if settled on good ground, he is a massive price in ante-post at the moment.
However, in PATH OF THUNDER we have a horse that comes into this race with a very similar three-year-old profile to Beat Le Bon in 2019 in that he is unexposed, loves to chase a hot pace and, off a handicap mark of 95, looks to have got in lightly.
Check out at his performance at the Newmarket July meeting where this gelding, despite running green and pretty free through the first half of the race, fired up the final sharp climb to put a fair set of three-year-old handicappers to bed in great style.
I simply can’t understand why he isn’t rated closer to 100. But, as they say never, look a gift horse in the mouth. Granted a fair draw and in the hope that he relaxes more during the initial stages against his elders, he could well be the meetings’ blot on the handicap.
There are so many factors to take into account just betting on the day of the event for the Stewards Cup, but nearly a week in advance it is even harder task. The draw, the going, pace in the race, etc! However, I wanted to take a chance on the unexposed younger horses in the entry and my two against the field are Great Ambassador, trained by Ed Walker, and Roger Varian’s charge SAINT LAWRENCE. Both have been racing against the best speedsters of their generation, and they look an above average group.
The former was far from disgraced when just under 4 lengths off Chil Chil at Newmarket in May and looks to have been laid out for this. As a juvenile he was three parts of a lengths off Pyledriver over 7 furlongs and connections then tried to stretch his stamina out to a mile (in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot). But, he has always had plenty of natural speed and that was epitomised by his comeback success at Kempton this season.
He is the back-up bet to the selection, who ran Rohaan close in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot and then simply didn’t handle the deep ground at Haydock Park last time out. A mark of 103 probably means this four-year-old is not as well treated as his rival. However, this will only be his fourth career start over 6 furlongs and we have almost certainly not seen the best of him over this distance.
Of the remainder of the entry, I still reckon there is a big prize in Above, who was a fair seventh in the Wokingham Stakes. Meanwhile Hey Jonesy is better than he has shown this season, but is rather temperamental if hugely talented on his day.
Saturday 16:45 Dingle
Okay, so we will have played in all the big handicaps by now, but this happens to be my strongest bet of the meeting and I am just hoping that Richard Hannon finally sees the light and runs this son of Footstepsinthesand over this trip of in excess of a mile.
It could even be that this intermediate distance of 9 furlongs is a shade on the sharp side and DINGLE will need to go a mile-and-a-quarter to fulfil his undoubted potential. But, I saw him run in the flesh at Newmarket last time out, he needs an out-and-out gallop at this trip.
He is a nicely balanced sort, so I have little or no worries about this undulating track and if he gets into a nice rhythm off a decent pace while being tucked away in midfield, then I can see him picking up the leaders going towards the distance.
That run behind the potentially very smart Path of Thunder, who is set to run in the Golden Mile, could prove rock solid as the season wears on and we have yet to see the very best of this three-year-old – who is set to have only his seventh career start here. It wouldn’t surprise me, if he lines up here, that this youngster could be a massive last day gamble.
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