A cracking renewal of this three-year-old only handicap, in fact several of the field were considered to be potential black-type performers and may yet go on to win at Group level later in the season.
Whatever the result, keep a good eye on the form of this race as it’s bound to be rock solid and while there are any number in with some sort of chance, these six look like the right way to go as far as picking a shortlist goes:
Forest Of Dean
John Gosden’s son of Iffraj was very narrowly beaten by Solid Stone (see below) late last year at Newcastle, but he has improved no end since then and looks as if he can take another big step forward in this race.
The trip holds no fears for him, Frankie Dettori’s mount went clear over this trip at Doncaster last time under Rab Havlin and he is improving in lumps so the extra 8lbs on his back doesn’t really worry me at this stage. The trip and ground then are fine and he appears to be a Listed winner in waiting at the very least.
King Power Racing really are becoming a true force to be reckoned with in the game and while others in their stable will reach higher heights this term, Good Birthday definitely has ability and can make his mark in handicap company.
He’ll have every chance to get close in this race, his form in winning a 1m2f handicap at Doncaster much like Forest Of Dean entitles him to be there or thereabouts but his improvement appears just a tad slower than that rival.
This one may end up a real springer in the market if all is well with him on Saturday morning, as we haven’t been able to see the best of him yet and on paper his handicap mark could be a bit of a joke.
At 95 he is rated no better than what he showed on his racecourse debut at Newcastle in November and we know these types improve immeasurably in the space of six months. Furthermore, this horse was so good on debut and at home that he was originally thought of as a 2000 Guineas type.
The drop to seven furlongs and the slower track didn’t suit him at Kempton on his second run, while once again he along with a few other fancied runners hated the soft ground over this course and distance last time out so the run is best forgotten and he could be a much better prospect now.
This is another colt who, up to April at least, was being considered for the classics. Having progressed nicely to win two of his first three runs, he was entrusted with a place in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom but as well as not taking to the track he found things a little hot against the likes of Cape Of Good Hope.
Back in more realistic company and off a seemingly workable mark of 92, the in-form Roger Varian runner can go very close in this and must be considered a major player.
His being well fancied this week has been all about his potential, but while it’s true that it’s there in abundance we also have to consider that this handicap will be tough enough and you have to wonder whether he’s streetwise enough for the race.
He came nicely clear over this trip in a maiden at Windsor and his opening mark of 89 seems fair enough, but this may prove to be more of a stepping stone than anything else and he may be more dangerous next time out having had this experience.
Sir Michael Stoute’s runner has close form with Forest Of Dean, but that horse has improved so much since they met that we cannot now take the form literally.
Having gone up to this trip for his seasonal bow at Newmarket, Solid Stone battled well having hit the front a furlong out and while a Stoute horse is sure to improve, he may need plenty more after a 6lb hike in the weights.
Headman is more like a head-scratcher given that we don’t really know what level he can get to, while Solid Stone is sure to be well backed but may have possibly been collared by the handicapper.
Mackaar is very interesting off this handicap mark but the most likeable profile is that of FOREST OF DEAN and it would be no surprise if John Gosden’s runner improved a whole lot more yet.