We have a maximum field of 19 on the round course for this 1½-mile handicap for the three-year-olds, and what a contest it looks likely to be.
There are many, many good form lines to consider here. Mandobi, Franz Strauss, Schmilsson, Savvy Knight, Newfoundland and Flying Dolphin could all have been given a mention, but in the end our shortlist consisted of the following six:
James Ferguson’s runner, by Sea The Stars, has excelled since being gelded last year.
After the op he ran well in second at Chelmsford, but bettered that on his seasonal reappearance at Windsor in April when scoring in good fashion.
His new mark of 89 is no gimme, so improvement is needed, but on his fourth ever run and after a 52-day break that remains possible.
After 58 days off and having not yet run in a handicap, there is a little bit of guesswork required with Charlie Hills’ colt. He does have strong form with the right horses though.
His debut was just average, albeit Coroebus and Saga were ahead of him, while he beat subsequent Newmarket winner Educator next time.
The team thought enough of him to send him to the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom in April. He was sixth there, behind Derby seventh Nahanni, Listed second Zain Sarinda, Derby Trial winner United Nations and St James’s Palace fifth Mighty Ulysees which is impressive form.
Israr steps up in trip for John and Thady Gosden having taken the London Gold Cup at Newbury last time.
That is the race of course which has given us Communique, Defoe, Headman and Bay Bridge recently with winners so often going into Group company.
Israr didn’t handle Newmarket’s Dip very well on his seasonal bow behind Educator but still ran well before his big win, with another step forward now anticipated.
Teofilo’s offspring have all being proving that they can stay very well, which bodes well for Post Impressionist here as he moves up from 1¼ miles.
William Haggas has shown time and time again that he can improve horses hugely and get them going on great runs, while this horse already has the form in the bag anyway having split too good ones at Newcastle.
There, he had Honiton behind who has since come out and won a maiden by nine lengths (rated 99 now), while Eldar Eldarov was ahead of him.
As long as the fast ground isn’t too much of a worry, he is a well handicapped horse off 89 who must go well under the red-hot Danny Tudhope.
It’s hard to look at all the variables connected to Post Impressionist and still believe that there is a better handicapped horse in the race at a mile-and-a-half, but I think Secret State is just that.
Charlie Appleby’s runner was second in the Wood Ditton on debut behind Francesco Clemente who has gone on to win again since.
On his second run in May he had Honiton even further behind than Post Impressionist did, swatting him away and scoring by 3¾ lengths at Chester on ground that wouldn’t have been ideal.
Last time he was better again and found things fairly easy when beating Laasudood at Nottingham, that horse having also gone on to score subsequently.
There is nothing not to like about his profile and he will be tough to beat if not suffering a bad trip.
Surrey Mist is another typical improver and he chased home Israr in the London Gold Cup last time out.
That form alone entitles him to a place on this list, but there are other bits of evidence that point to him being a most progressive middle-distance horse so given his 1lb weight pull with Israr, he remains a horse of some interest.
After being gelded Surrey Mist stayed on nicely over a mile-and-a-quarter on his second start, and won over one mile, three furlongs on his next outing which means he is more likely to stay this trip than some in the field.
If he is anything like previous winners of the London Gold Cup, then Israr hasn’t finished winning yet and could be heading for Group company in time.
Post Impressionist is another with excellent form and who is likely to improve, but perhaps on both counts he is outdone by SECRET STATE who we should see in some top class races later in the year.