While prize money is understandably down this is still a valuable race with over £37,000 going to the winner. No surprise then that the field is tight, but given the soft conditions this test will not suit everyone and these are the six we reckon will handle it best.
No matter which angle you take into this race, Peter Chapple-Hyam’s five-year-old gelding is a rock-solid place contender and should be feared.
Still on the improve after just seven career starts featuring four wins, Deja was a very good second to Scarlet Dragon over this trip and on soft ground at Royal Ascot last time in a race that gives us the key piece of recent form.
He has gone up 5lbs for that run, but we haven’t quite seen the very best of him yet and he is high on the list.
Visored for the first time, James Given’s runner might just slip under the radar a little bit but his profile is spot-on for a race of this nature.
A winner over this trip on heavy ground at Leicester last year, the former Aidan O’Brien horse had a pipe-opener at Newmarket in June before running well in fifth in our key race, the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Ascot behind Scarlet Dragon.
He is coming to himself gradually by the looks of it, has his conditions today and will most likely make a big impact.
We’ve done well in the past with Sir Michael Stoute-trained four-year-old handicappers and this is another one who may not have finished winning yet.
Now a gelded son of Noble Mission, Laafy did OK as a three-year-old colt and truly thrived when taking a 1¾-mile handicap at Nottingham in heavy ground before running out of steam at the end of a busy season, albeit still running good sixth places at Haydock and Ascot.
He returned after his cruel cut to land a mile-and-a-half Newbury handicap in easy fashion and despite his hefty rise in the weights, still seems to be ahead. The trip is perfect, he will prefer this softer ground, he’s well drawn and has the assistance of track specialist jockey Richard Kingscote to help him along too.
Le Don De Vie
The horse with the unusual breeding by a Brazilian stallion, Le Don De Vie was considered an outside hope for last year’s classics when with Andrew Balding and despite not reaching that level he did win a handicap at Epsom on Derby day.
He was a good fourth in that crucial Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Ascot and could yet produce his best form now he’s been gelded and remains lightly raced, but for now his profile suggests that better racing ground may be what is needed.
An interesting contender. On a four-timer having landed three all-weather races at Lingfield and Kempton, Brian Meehan’s horse is one who beat Momkin on debut in 2018 albeit in receipt of weight.
The trip is fine for him and he’s certainly going the right way, in fact his speed figures from his latest win were very impressive, but despite the description of ‘standard to slow’ his best work at Kempton and especially Lingfield was achieved on surfaces appreciably quicker than this one meaning his performance may well be blunted.
There are plenty of positives about Andrew Balding’s horse; he’s won around here already and on soft ground (with Laafy in behind), probably wants this trip having been tried at staying distances and is very definitely going the right way.
However, from his Lingfield Derby Trial fifth behind Anthony Van Dyck to his 6th at Ascot last time, he hasn’t improved in absolute lumps and so it’s been relatively easy for the handicapper to just about keep him in his grasp.
A hugely competitive race set to be run in very wet conditions, one in which should Palavecino take to the surface he could be a real force but that is far from guaranteed.
Deja is certain to give his running and should be in many a placepot, but whether he has the weight in hand after his last good run at Ascot is doubtful.
Should Ranch Hand prove to be better suited by this 1½-mile trip he too is in contention, however the most fascinating contender and the one with the most improvement in him in the conditions is Sir Michael Stoute’s LAAFY and he is given the nod to land the prize.