We have 19 runners chasing a £51,000 first prize in this fantastic old race, a 1½-mile handicap in which several appear to have been laid out for this very day.
We’ve whittled the field down to these six, though in truth at least ten could have made the list.
Simon and Ed Crisford’s New Approach gelding had his progress halted at Royal Ascot, but he’s generally on the upgrade with his pause in that progression easily being put down to the very soft ground.
Now, back on better ground and over the trip he likes, he can climb another rung of the racing ladder and looks capable of reaching a level of up to 105 about now, making him well in off his mark of 100.
He arguably wants a bit of room to get the job done though, so this big field and likely quick pace may not be 100% to his liking.
Andrew Balding is having a great time at the moment and almost on that alone, we can’t rule out this horse despite form figures of 685-77 since last summer.
In fact, he actually completed last season by finishing last in his final three races and was beaten fully 26 lengths on his seasonal bow in 2021. All of that meant that the six-year-old, still capable at this level, slipped from a mark of 114 to just 102 and managed somewhat of a comeback last time out.
The heavy ground was perhaps not to his liking at Ascot, but nevertheless he ran a more than respectable race to finish 7th of 14 behind Quickthorn and it could be that he ends up being pretty well handicapped sometime soon as he comes back to himself.
John & Thady Gosden’s son of Golden Horn was well fancied to get the job done at Royal Ascot over this trip, though the pair very wisely remained patient and withdrew him when the rain came down.
Over middle distances on generally good ground, Grand Bazaar has run to handicap marks of 83, 88, 91 and 98 which shows his progressive nature. At this age (4) and given his profile, he is clearly ready to move up once again.
A mark of 105 is well within his grasp, he’s fit after a decent seasonal reappearance, and because of a poor run on unsuitable ground last back end he’s rated 97 now making him very well in on the handicap. Huge chance.
Sir Mark Prescott loves to manipulate the handicap in his favour and he does it very well. He was open enough to say, having inherited this horse from David Lanigan’s yard and won with him first time out back in February, that he’d been laid out for the Northumberland Plate last weekend.
Unable to go there, he’s trying again with what will admittedly be a better horse than what we saw at Lingfield but there are doubts.
He was given a handicap rating of 92, which actually looks harsh on paper, and given that the Plate was the initial target and Prescott is known for improving horses when they go up in trip, this mile-and-a-half doesn’t look completely ideal.
Soto Sizzler is a six-year-old with form figures of 292/4272, so you’d forgiven for wondering why he’s on the shortlist for such a competitive handicap.
He has only had 17 races though and since he came back, he has run to his best level and has even shown signs of gradual improvement. He’s also trained by the bang in form David Menuisier.
Zabeel Champion, representing Mark Johnston here who is terrific with these races, is just 12 runs into his career and brings in two very important pieces of recent form.
In May, he beat Global Storm at Newmarket who of course franked that form at Royal Ascot, while Grand Bazaar was further back in third although he likely set the race up for the other two.
Last time out Zabeel Champion was a fine third to Quickthorn in the Duke of Edinburgh with this ground now suiting better. He is rock-solid, but may not be the best handicapped horse in the race.
Soto Sizzler has definitely been underrated, while Aaddeey’s progression can now continue in drier conditions.
The one with easily the best profile for us however is GRAND BAZAAR who is taken to land this valuable race for the Gosden’s and Rab Havlin.