This is always a competitive handicap and viewed in some quarters as a rehearsal for the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot. Most of these are open to improvement and it’s a difficult race to price up based on previous performance.
One who created a big impact last time is Clive Cox’s Crack On Crack On, who finished with a rare flourish after starting slowly at Lingfield last time, and he went into a lot of notebooks.
One of the angles for him is the “did everything wrong but still won” approach, but it’s one I’m wary of, and he will have to race a lot more evenly to justify his position in the market here.
There is also a school of thought that horses who finish quickly will stay further, but that’s not always true, and I have serious reservations about the Havana Gold colt’s ability to stay a mile, given a couple of his siblings are out-and-out sprinters. It’s easy to conclude that he was outpaced last time, but in reality, he just didn’t take hold of the bit until turning for home, when he produced a genuine turn of foot.
I’m not certain he will go the right way, and if he doesn’t race on the bridle early on, he could be faced with a wall of horses in the straight.
Recommended: Lay Crack On Crack On for a place @ 2.5 or shorter
It appears to be the gang-up-on-Clive-Cox day, as I’m keen to oppose Heartache in the Sandy Lane Stakes on what is her first start of the year, and her first outing beyond five furlongs.
She was a very fast 2-yo, and there are always questions about how such types will train on, and her appearance over this trip merely highlights the lack of opportunities for horses like her over the minimum trip at this stage of the season.
Recommended: Lay Heartache @ 5.0 or shorter
I’m keen to oppose Kachy back on a sprint course here, and while he was very impressive when making all at Chester last time, that made it five wins on turning course for this speedster, and just one when facing a straight track.
He was readily held in this race last year, and also when facing Battaash at Goodwood in the summer, and he is fundamentally a bully who looks good beating inferior rivals but can’t live with competition for the lead.
Recommended: Lay Kachy for a place @ 2.5 or shorter
It’s a big surprise that Ryan Moore has chosen the non-staying U S Navy Flag here, and that’s great news, as the natural market support he’s come in for means we can take him on at odds-on in the place market.
He rather stole the Dewhurst last year under a cheeky Ryan Moore and has been stuffed on all starts since, his fifth in the French Guineas down to a lack of stamina rather than an inconsequential stumble.
Recommended: Lay U S Navy Flag for a place @ 1.8 or shorter