Royal Hunt Cup: Haggas To Be Handicap King Again

Royal Hunt Cup: Haggas To Be Handicap King Again

A Royal Hunt Cup winner needs speed, a good draw and plenty of luck in running so this is by no means a simple task.  What passes as a good draw is often not known until the first day’s racing is over, but based on a bit of history the higher numbers may just be a little better off.

Here are six against the field in this year’s hotly contested Hunt Cup:

Afaak

Charlie Hills’ Oasis Dream colt finally showed he wasn’t simply a soft ground horse last time out when scooting clear at York in a good handicap on fast ground to win by a length-and-a-half and he can still improve a little more yet.

He has close form with impressive Lincoln winner Addeybb of William Haggas’ yard and can himself step into pattern company eventually, though he wouldn’t be as well-in as you’d hope in these handicaps now he has been risen for his Knavesmire win.

Bless Him

Winner of the three-year-old’s equivalent last season, the Britannia Stakes, this one has been here and done it before and despite a very under-par return to action this season we cannot discount further improvement and a big run here.  Soft ground wasn’t ideal last time and place money is within reach now he has more suitable conditions.

Escobar

Won like a good horse at Haydock the other day and if capable of landing a similar blow so quickly, must be in with a serious shout here.

The trip and ground are perfect for him and he’s a speedy type who is getting better so it’s easy to see him running well once more, I just can’t help thinking the gloss may have been taken off him by that last run and I’d like to see him again over this trip in a few weeks’ time having had a chance to recover properly.

Kynren

David Barron’s gelding has only had the six runs and is bound to improve plenty as this season goes on, his peak form putting him in with a chance here although the fact that he has been declared a non-runner on good-to-firm ground with the going listed as a reason cannot be a positive in these conditions.

Mubtasim

For some reason it already feels like William Haggas’ charge has been around forever, though he has only run twelve times including in last year’s Jersey Stakes (Group 3) in which he was a close-up third and we have not seen the best of him yet.

He was due to run last Friday but has instead been saved for this with connections believing he is still well handicapped enough to play a part, and I agree.  His good second to Tabarrak in a Listed race last time out put him close to the 110-mark with further improvement certainly to come, so his running here off 106 seems reasonable and he may well be hard to catch.

He has to prove he can be at his best over a mile, though with 30 horses chasing him up in quick conditions I do not see the trip as a major stumbling block.

Tricorn

Third in the Britannia Stakes last season when in form and this year comes into this contest showing a similar level, but this time on unsuitable ground meaning his performance can be upgraded.

His third on soft going last time out was better form than it looks on the book at first glance and I can see plenty of improvement coming from John Gosden’s representative now that he has a big field and a fast track, so a huge run looks like being on the cards at the Royal meeting once again.

Summary

Although Tricorn has so much in his favour and must run a big race, it’s hard to get away from the classy and tough MUBTASIM who can follow up a fine third in the 2017 Jersey Stakes with a big handicap win here.  Others such as Escobar and Afaak are bound to be on the scene too.

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