Sean Goff | Saturday racing preview
Sir Micheal Stoute sends Royal Ascot winner Opinion on the long journey north for the £100k 1m 3f handicap but an 8lb rise for that win sees him having to lump top-weight of 9-10 here. It’s a big ask as nine of the last 11 winners carried 9-1 or less.
But Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani has farmed this race in recent years and saddles second-fav Franciscan.
The suave Italian has landed one of the oldest races on the calendar three times in the last nine years with (Alkaased 2004, Zeitgeist 2005, Mad Rush 2008,) while Bourne was runner up in 2011 and Fiery Lad third in 2010.
A two-time course winner, has won at York over 1m 4f – he ticks all the boxes as a Cumani plot horse. Was well fancied for this last year but the soft ground scuppered his chance. The better ground will be right up his street this time and 7/1 looks fair.
Scatter Dice stayed on to get fifth in the Northumberland Plate last weekend. Mark Johnston’s runner beat Chester Cup winner Address Unknown at Ascot 12 months ago and could be one for the places.
And while they say you get nothing for finishing second – even if Dave Smith is the judge – but Paddy will refund your losing single stake in the Old Newton Cup if your horse finishes second.
Meanwhile at Sandown, Aidan O’Brien steps Declaration of War up from his mile win in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot to 1m 2f in the Coral Eclipse (3.50).
Stablemate Mars – one-time favourite for the Derby – is on a retrieval mission after meeting trouble in running in his last two starts – the one mile St James’ Palace Stakes behind Dawn Approach and when sixth and fancied for the Epsom Derby.
The extra quarter mile could bring the best out of the Ballydoyle colt but two, quick, punishing races isn’t an ideal preparation.
Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Al Kazeem sets the standard and is chasing a five timer after wearing down the front-running Mukhadram in the Prince of Wales’ Stakes.
The runner-up was only beaten a neck but is 8/1 to reverse the form on Saturday at Sandown.
Seasonal debutant The Fugue was back in third and trainer John Gosden said she would come on “appreciably” for the run. The Fugue should close the gap on the other two but with the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood little over a fortnight away it may be wiser to pull the trigger then when she’s back against against her own sex.
The globe-trotting Pastorius is no back number and last year’s German Derby victor won the Prix Ganay in April before a below-par effort in the Singapore Cup in May.
- Ballydoyle has won the Eclipse five times since 2000
- The last 11 winners had previously won a Group One race