Friday’s Listed race attracts a reasonable field of 9, with Jet Away being the most notable runner, who was last seen trailing in third of four runners behind Brown Panther in Listed company at Pontefract in very bad ground, but a return to a sounder surface should see him run to a better vein of form. Though he hasn’t really lived up to what was originally thought of him, he is a solid horse in at around this grade, and one can see him running another bold race under these conditions.
Winter Derby joint-favourite Junoob hasn’t been the same force as he was on the Polytrack over the winter months and on paper this looks a much tougher race than what he has contested the last twice on turf and his price reflects his chance.
Globetrotting Afsare ran the race of his life last time out in Italy when finishing a respectable second on his first start in Group 1 company. Though all three of his wins which came as a three year old came on Good to Firm, he shows there’s still fire in his belly and with a drastic drop in class, he looks more than capable of taking this.
Another globetrotter and Godolphin second string, Biondetti hasn’t been the same since taking a Group 1 win in Italy at 2010. Disappointing on both of his starts this year at Meydan (both over 10f), the return to England might go to his benefit, but the trip obviously doesn’t suit him so he looks likely to struggle here.
Cai Shen has always been consistent aside from a blemish over course and distance last August. Fortunately, he bounced straight back at Doncaster on his last run for the year before finishing a respectable second at Lingfield in the Winter Derby, before going on at the finish to come 6th of 30 runners at Ascot last month. Back up in trip again to 10f, he should run a cracking race and will be thereabouts.
Songcraft started his racing career for Andre Fabre in France, where he racked up a double before being switched to Saeed Bin Suroor by the Godolphin operation. He managed to make it four from four until disappointing on his third start at Meydan in what was a slowly run Dubai City Of Gold (Group 2). His next start came in the Dubai Sheema Classic which was a similarly stop-start event, only this time he sported first time headgear in the shape of visors (which seemed to have a negative effect). Running on British soil for the first time tomorrow, and with the visors dispensed with – if there is a true pace in this race I couldn’t run him out, but is one to play in-running.
Tazahum hasn’t quite lived up to what was expected from him as a three-year-old after he won a Listed race on his second run as a three-year-old, and has somewhat struggled to land any sort of blow in races of similar level. The extra two furlongs looks to be against him here, as in my eyes he is a miler but he does have a perfect record of 2 wins from 2 at Sandown.
The veteran of the race, Cill Rialaig started off a promising National Hunt career when winning two bumpers before being switched to the flat, she’s had a successful flat career, racking up six wins of her 22 starts. She is a distance winner and more then capable of holding her own, but this looks much tougher against more improving sorts and she’ll need to improve on her recent Ascot running to figure here.
Finally, lightly raced Farhaan for John Dunlop makes his second start this season after a reasonably lucrative juvenile campaign. A winner of a maiden and novice contest he was sent off favourite for the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket, but couldn’t run down Daddy Long Legs who set the pace, and his exertions told in the closing stages weakening into fifth. His comeback run when fourth to Thought Worthy and Noble Mission at Newmarket reads well, and he is likely to have come on for that run, and is very much a ‘dark horse’ in a hot race.
All in all I think this race is Afsare‘s for the taking, but couldn’t rule out a big run from both Farhaan and Songcraft at bigger prices.