There’s a cool £175,000 up for grabs in the 30-runner Royal Hunt Cup, won of course last year by Real World who is now a confirmed Group 1 performer.
It’s traditionally one of the hardest races of the year to get right, but we’ve whittled the field down to these six performers who all have what it takes to go well in one of the biggest betting races around.
Is this the Royal Hunt Cup hotpot, or are the bookies looking to get him beaten? Astro King came into last year’s Hunt Cup as favourite and does so again.
Twelve months ago, Sir Michael Stoute’s runner ‘won’ the race on stands rail, though Real World on the other side was simply the best handicapped horse in the contest.
He is in very similar form this time around and was rather unlucky in the Thirsk Hunt Cup, albeit he got no closer than ninth, but he’s 4lbs higher than he was last year and others may be on a sharper upward curve.
Unusually for a Charlie Appleby/Godolphin runner, Desert Peace could be the dark horse in the race.
He’s only nine races into his career and reached a mark of 101 when winning in the mud in Dubai, a rating you’d think he could comfortably better now.
He hasn’t done so well since and he’s not the best drawn, but he was impressive over at Belmont on firm ground last summer and could come good now.
Drawn close enough to the near side rail if it holds an advantage to runners is Fantastic Fox, one with an attractive profile.
A four-year-old by Frankel, Roger Varian’s runner peaked last season in the middle of the summer and this year appears to be getting better race by race.
He was a good third at Epsom last time when not getting a clear run in a strong handicap and he remains on the same handicap mark.
While we like Fantastic Fox, arguably ahead of him in the Roger Varian pecking order (and ours) is Greatgadian.
He’s drawn near the middle and will hopefully not end up on a wing, but has the sort of progressive profile required of a Hunt Cup horse and must go well.
Improving on last year’s form, Greatgadian won a nice race comfortably at Chelmsford before then taking care of Peter The Great at the same venue.
That horse has since gone in, again in comfortable fashion, paying a nice compliment to Ray Dawson’s mount.
Legend Of Dubai
Yet another for the Varian team is Legend Of Dubai and they must be confident about his chances under top jock Andrea Atzeni.
Beautifully bred, a Dubawi/Shamardal cross in fact, he always promised plenty but had his setbacks early on. As a result, he has only run five times in 3 seasons thus far, but has barely put a foot wrong.
Back in late April on his first start for eight months, he demolished a fair field at Newmarket and has since been put away for this. The third horse that day has since come out and won not once but twice, including at York, while this fella was in a different league.
He is drawn next door to Greatgadian so has similar worries, but the talent is all there and he is well handicapped.
After beating Ouzo at Sandown in May, it would appear Amanda Perrett and her team always had this race in mind. Jim Crowley takes the ride who will be full of confidence.
This is an intriguing race, as the Hunt Cup always is.
While the draw is important, there will be strong pace right across the track and four of our six horses are drawn between stalls 6 and 11. If they ensure things are equal, then LEGEND OF DUBAI may well prove to be hard to beat.
His form is excellent, conditions are ideal and we reckon that in time he will prove to be a 105-110 horse, though he’s in here off a mark of 96 and that cannot be ignored.
Stablemate Greatgadian can also go very well, Desert Peace cannot be overlooked at a price and Astro King remains a solid prospect if a little over bet.