John Gosden will walk the course this morning before deciding whether or not he will allow his star stayer Stradivarius (2.10) from taking his place in the field for today’s Long Distance Cup.
I would be staggered if the Newmarket handler didn’t allow his charge to face the starter, given he won the Gold Cup on soft ground back in June and some of his rivals such as Kew Gardens and Withhold are likely to be inconvenienced by underfoot conditions although the ground on the inner track was described as good to soft on Friday morning.
The selection is ½ at BetVictor and is taken to extend his unbeaten record to eleven. His stablemate Royal Line is the dark horse of the race and will be a big danger if he improves for the step up to 2m for the first time.
Frankie Dettori is in the plate on Stradivarius and he also gets the leg up on Star Catcher the 13/8 favourite at BetVictor for the Fillies and Mares. The latter holds three verdicts already over Fleeting (2.45) but I think the latter can gain her revenge as long as she is over her Longchamp exertions when she finished a fast-finishing second over 10f.
The selection had a poor draw in Paris and is well housed in five this afternoon while Dettori is outside her in stall nine. Donnacha O’Brien takes over in the saddle with Ryan Moore riding Ten Sovereigns in Australia this morning. At 7/1 with BetVictor she gets the each way vote.
Benbatl has long been my fancy for the QEII but the forecast soft ground is likely to scupper his chances and my antepost voucher. I thought Olmedo had an excellent chance in the Daniel Wildenstein last time but he was easily brushed aside by The Revenant who has been backed all rates into 5/2. He will love the forecast heavy ground but at 20/1 with BetVictor who are betting four places the vote must go the Simon Crisford’s Century Dream (3.20) who was third in the corresponding race 12 months ago and will relish underfoot conditions.
The selection has not been seen since finishing down the field at Meydan in the early months of the year but looks sure to have been freshened up for today’s contest. William Buick takes the ride.
Magical (4.00) was going as well as anything in the Arc with two furlongs to go and, if over those exertions, she will be tough to beat in what looks a moderate renewal of the Champions Stakes. The filly was beaten less than 2L in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes here at the Royal meeting back in June when she had non-other than Arc winner Waldgeist back in third.
Aidan O’Brien’s filly is 13/8 at BetVictor but looks a worthy market leader. The Japanese mare Deidre has a bit to find with the selection on Royal Ascot running although she would have got the nod on good or faster ground.
There is a long short-list for the concluding Balmoral Handicap. Lord North has been raised 12lbs for his Cambridgeshire romp and he looks best overlooked. Dark Vision will surely take one of these events soon although I’m not convinced, he looked to be crying out for a drop in trip when third at York (1m 1f) last time.
Escobar (4.40) was just touched off in this corresponding race 12 months ago and ran a cracked over 7f here last time. The return to a mile will suit and at 12/1 with BetVictor he gets the each way – 5 places – vote.
Elsewhere and I hope to see Coeur Blimey (4.15) ridden with more restraint than was the case in the Cesarewitch last week when he led for over a mile-and-a-half. I believe there is still more to come from the 7-y-old over timber on soft ground.
There is a good Maiden Hurdle at Market Rasen and I hope to see Dundrum Wood improve on his third in a Warwick Bumper for Olly Murphy. The selection was a winner between the flags in his native Ireland and this looks a decent starting point although he will get further.
In the finale at Wolverhampton this evening Nsnas (8.15) can go one better than when runner up to a decent tool of Gosden at Lingfield on debut.
Western Ryder is likely to be all the rage for a hot Beginners Chase at Sedgefield tomorrow but I am convinced that there is more to come from Windsor Park (3.05) who was a winning pointer in Ireland and won over timber here last season.