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I know that connections think the world of Once upon A River (who has gone off a well backed favourite on both his career starts), and he easily won his Roscommon Maiden last time out. That form hasn’t really been tested though, and the likes of the BUCKAROO and Maritime Wings are readily preferred.
The last named was pitted into Group Three and Group Two company after winning his maiden and was far from disgraced behind Point Lonsdale on both occasions – the latter in the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh. However, he does have a tendency to hang when coming under pressure. That could just be a trait of still being green though, and the jury is still out on that apparent awkwardness.
That means I will give a confident vote to the exciting Fastnet Rock colt Buckaroo. He wasn’t given too hard a time in the closing stages of his debut once it was clear he couldn’t win, but was a massive eye-catcher running on very strongly from off the pace.
This rangy sort then followed that first run up with a neck success over Stone Age at Galway, again looking green, but travelling superbly well before outstaying his ‘dad’s rival’ who re-opposes here, but may not have the scope of the selection. However, the long climb to the winning post here will favour the selection much more and the stronger the gallop the better it will suit our man as well.
Recent Haydock Park winner MONTAMMEJ is very enticing at with only a 3lbs penalty for pipping the ultra-game Copper Knight at the post at Haydock Park last week, especially as this intermediate trip of 5-and-a-half furlongs could well be his optimum set-up in a race – which is bound to be run at a pace. Cam Hardie rode him to absolute perfection at the Merseyside track and he could well be worth a saver here.
I can also see why Hurricane Ivor is probably the favourite for this, having looked a shade unlucky behind the same horse at York (Mondammej behind), but a single figure offer in a big field as competitive as this – where he will have to navigate a safe passage from behind a wall of horses – doesn’t interest me.
The enigma that is Stone of Destiny was only just behind the Anthony Brittain charge at Haydock and has solid claims of getting even closer this time around, but he is a full 7lbs higher than when landing this prestigious handicap 12 months ago and, rather like Hurricane Ivor, is a hostage to fortune in the closing stages.
So, the value each-way call leads me in the direction of Tim Easterby’s charge COUNT D’ORSAY. Of course there is the question of ground, but if the predicted heavy downpours do not land at Town Moor I am sure he will be taken out and we will get our money back. However, if we do get a genuinely surface to race on, then he could prove one of the better handicapped horses in this cavalry charge where the majority of runners need a career best to land the gold medal.
Down to a rating of 96, the five-year-old has been placed off 97 this term, and last time out ran a much better race than his finishing position suggested, when just 3-and-a-half lengths off Tis Marvellous at Ascot. His price will collapse if the rains come and if not, Montammej is a more than able back up on top of the ground.
I thought that Jim Bolger’s charge MAC SWINEY was given a moderate ride to say the least in the Juddmonte International at York. Back down to a mile-and-a-quarter, we all knew his strong suit would be his stamina. However, Kevin Manning still rode him for speed from the front and he was predictably outpaced in the closing quarter mile by Mishriff and company.
The Irish 2,000 Guineas’ winner now finds himself in much calmer waters and if any of the predicted showers hit the Dublin track, I am sure that they will be gratefully received by the Bolger team.
To be fair to all and sundry from the Coolcullen base, he may have looked slightly in need of the run to put an edge back on him at the Knavesmire. He should be at his physical peak again following a mid-summer break after two very fair runs in the premier classics at Epsom and the Curragh.
Thunder Moon has underperformed by some way this season, but deep ground over the wrong trips haven’t suited him on his last two starts and this set-up looks like his optimum. Of the remainder, Khartoum is much better than he was able to show last time out in Listed company when he simply fell out of the stalls. Meanwhile, Ryan Moore’s chosen mount of the three entered by Aidan O’Brien is Horoscope, who got back to confidence winning ways in that very same contest.
However, it was noted that his trainer explained the return to form coincided with the return to a smaller field, so he is respected but ultimately not feared if the selection bounces back to his brilliant best.
Teston, with Silvestre De Sousa booked could be quite interesting following wind surgery and any market moves should be heeded in this closing one mile straight line handicap. Cruyff Turn was given an absolute sizzler of a ride from the front by David Allan at York and holds a number of these on form. Fast ground is absolutely imperative to him and despite having endured a hard race that day, he could well successfully adopt the same tactics here if that race hasn’t taken the edge off him.
But Richard Fahey’s PYTHAGORUS strikes me as a winner waiting to happen and is returning to fast ground for the first time since he landed his maiden at Beverley last year. Since then, the unexposed youngster has been relatively disappointing. However, his run last time out as a beaten favourite can be readily excused by the sloppy pace up front, which resulted in him running very freely through the first three furlongs.
In expectation of a more even and solid gallop throughout and dropped to a mark of 98, he could be the blot on the handicap here. All I want to see early doors is for PJ McDonald to drop anchor to get him settled and then gradually gain a position from halfway. If there is any rain that wouldn’t do him any harm either, but he looks a solid each-way play and just gets the vote over the unexposed Dubawi colt Royal Fleet and recent fluent Newbury winner Bear Force One.
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