Naturally we have a full field of 17 for this high-profile £125,000 handicap. The 2-mile, 2½-furlong trip should take some getting given the way the weather has turned this week and with that, we reckon these six are the ones to concentrate on:
Ian Williams knows his way around races of this nature, and he’s moved to book Ryan Moore for his five-year-old gelding.
Cardano has also drawn gate 1 for this affair which could yet prove crucial, especially given his penchant for bouncing out fast and getting a position.
He’s in great form of late, there’s no doubt about that, but his best work has been done on quicker surfaces than this which leads us to doubt whether he can lead early and see this trip out.
Coeur De Lion
Alan King’s eight-year-old doesn’t have the greatest form figures these days, but he retains enough ability to be competitive even off a handicap mark of 94.
Off a rating just 3lbs lower, Coeur De Lion won the two-and-a-half-mile Ascot Stakes at the royal meeting last summer. Ability is not the concern, nor is stamina, so the only doubt remaining is whether he candle real cut in the ground as the evidence so far suggests it will blunt him slightly.
There is a hell of a lot to like about this one. Trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld, this six-year-old Moyglare Stud gelding was rated 111 as a four-year-old and was considered to be a leading contender within the top-class staying division dominated by Stradivarius.
He has successfully stayed two miles and beyond, handles most types of ground and could now be very well handicapped indeed.
He had just the two runs last season, doing OK both times, but in defeat has slipped to a mark of 104 which seriously underestimates his true level. He’s been gelded now, his trainer has plumped for Frankie Dettori to ride and he should be considered a major contender.
Tim Easterby’s runner is bound to be well backed for this. The yard has been going terrifically well this flat season, so considering that on his soft ground Ebor form of just over eight months ago Glencadam Glory would be 9lbs well in, he should be supported accordingly.
His yard however has had a tendency to want to go back down in trip with him so far, rather than up to 2+ miles, while even some natural improvement for having run once this season at Musselburgh wouldn’t quite see him be good enough to win this. Watch the market.
The winner of 6 out of 39 career races so far, Hochfeld is a real tryer and another solid effort seems to be on the cards.
As a Mark Johnston runner he has most of the attributes we’d look for in a potential Chester Cup winner, with one major negative being enough just to temper enthusiasm.
In great form this year no doubt, he doesn’t seem terribly well handicapped and a look back through his form would suggest he’d be more comfortable on faster ground. Not to be ruled out, however.
Not So Sleepy
The one for money since the declarations came out. Not So Sleepy is trained by Hughie Morrison and, like his trainer, is as comfortable in the National Hunt sphere as he is on the flat.
The trip and ground are fine, as evidence by his fourth-placed finishes in each of the last two runnings of the Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket, while his best hurdling performance was achieved as recently as March when he ran a fine fifth to Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle.
Since then, he’s been down the field at Aintree and overall, he just keeps going up in the handicap without winning on the flat. So, from gate 13 he is passed over for win purposes this time but may well still continue to draw in the majority of the cash.
Despite that wide draw and an ever-increasing official mark, Not So Sleepy has enough credentials to be involved once again under Graham Lee.
Glencadam Glory could be dangerous if suddenly coming back to his best form, which is eminently possible, however the standout horse here all being equal is Dermot Weld’s raider FALCON EIGHT.
He has the form in the bag to be comfortable here off top weight, rider Franky Dettori more than entrusted with guiding him around this unique racecourse.