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A typically competitive handicap to start proceedings, but the one who leaps of the page is WINK OF AN EYE. He has done nothing but progress this year, extending his winning run to four when narrowly prevailing from State of Bliss in a useful handicap at Goodwood, though Ryan Moore left the impression he had more up his sleeve should it be required.
The runner-up has won since, so the form has been franked and a subsequent 4lbs rise may not be enough to prevent a five-timer. Scarlet Dragon, from a reduced mark, Strawberry Rock and My Frankel are others shortlisted.
STRADIVARIUS won this race in 2018 and 2019 and still looks the one to beat in the staying division despite meeting with defeat in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last time. His recent strike rate has been dented somewhat, but he wasn’t best positioned at Ascot and twice met significant trouble as the winner kicked for home.
Stradivarius has since missed the Goodwood Cup – won by Trueshan – due to unsuitable ground, but conditions should be perfect here and he can get back on the up. Trueshan would arguably benefit from softer ground, but he’s a tough character who is rarely off his game.
LUSAIL made a winning debut in a hot novice event over course and distance in May and produced a career-best performance when recording his third win of the year in the July Stakes at Newmarket last time, beating Asymmetric by a head – who has since gone on to win the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood. That form looks solid and Lusail displayed an excellent attitude on that occasion, so is taken to prove too strong for the likes of Berkshire Shadow and Fearby.
SUESA blotted her copybook somewhat when disappointing in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, but she started favourite that day and instantly returned to form when winning the King George Stakes at Goodwood last time in devastating fashion from Dragon Symbol. She was well suited by being held up in a strongly-run race which allowed her to show off her potent turn of foot, and she should face a similar scenario here.
Suesa looks a top-class sprinter in the making and can prove that now. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Golden Pal – who rates the biggest threat on form – and fellow front-runner Winter Power – who goes really well at this track – appeal as the two to chase home the flying French filly.
BROADSPEAR pulled clear of the remainder with another well-backed newcomer when runner-up at Salisbury two months ago and he should have learnt plenty from that initial experience. That form is arguably the best on offer in this valuable and competitive maiden, so he is preferred to Dawn of Liberation and Hoo Ya Mal – who both made eye-catching debuts at Newbury and Sandown respectively.
ACHELOIS continues to progress this season, taking her tally to three wins from four starts when successful at Goodwood last month, again proving very strong in the finish. That is proving a trademark of hers and she remains relatively unexposed at this trip, so she is fancied to go in again despite being 6lbs higher in the weights. Sea La Rosa and Jewel In My Crown are interesting in their own right and merit respect, too.
ROYAL FLEET maintained his unbeaten record at Newmarket last time despite doing plenty wrong, still looking very raw against more battle-hardened rivals and drifting right onto the far-side rail. He clearly possesses plenty of ability and has the potential to be better than a handicapper.
He can defy a 7lbs rise in the weights before having his sights raised. The fitting of a first-time hood could be a big help. Wishaah’s latest win is working out well and he’s considered a big threat.
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