The first three home when PHANTOM FLIGHT made a mockery of a mark of 98 at York last time, were drawn 5, 3, 4 and it is possible that he was flattered by that facile 5L success against largely exposed rivals.
That said he faces similar types this afternoon – save Royal Champion – and I would be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race stepped up in to listed company for the first time. He holds no fancy entries later in the season, but he looks the type who will hold his own in Group company next season.
Royal Champion has only had seven careers starts and finished third in a Windsor Group 3 last time. That is, arguably, the best form on offer but I do think Phantom Flight is the one to beat in a race that few make much appeal.
Recommendation: Phantom Flight at 15/8 with William Hill
The unexposed 3-y-old Khanjar could turn the Ayr Gold Cup into a procession for William Haggas in the powerful Shadwell colours, but he is a best price of 9/2 with Corals, and I will look for an each way alternative.
I have always thought there was a big race in POPMASTER, and he is only 2lbs higher than when runner up in the Wokingham behind Rohann at Royal Ascot back in June. He is drawn near the stands’ rail in stall 23 and he gets the vote in a race where luck looks sure to play its part.
Recommendation: Popmaster EW at 14/1 with Unibet 5 places or 16/1 with Coral 4 places
The race I am most looking forward to this weekend is the Dubai Duty Free Handicap which has, perhaps surprisingly, not been won by Charlie Appleby in the last decade. Godolphin have three of the first three in the betting this afternoon, however, and I believe the prize will be won by Appleby who saddles two unexposed progressive three-year-olds.
Ottoman Fleet won a listed race at Newmarket on just his second start back in the spring but has been off the course since finishing fourth in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot back in June.
He must go close, but I am a huge fan of WARREN POINT who is unbeaten in three starts at today’s 10f trip and has only met defeat once when runner up over 12f – pulled hard – in a three-runner event at Ascot in July. I am convinced he is a Group winner in waiting – likely to be at the Meydan Carnival in the winter – and he gets a narrow vote in a tremendous handicap. The opening 9/2 was quickly hoovered up and he is into a best price of 10/3 at the time of writing.
Hamaki receives plenty of weight from the Godolphin pair, but I think he might need another coupe of furlongs. The race he won at the Shergar Cup last time was a modest one although his subsequent weight rise has been negated by the claim of his talented apprentice.
Recommendation: Warren Point at 10/3 with William Hill
Shouldvebeenaring has won three of his four starts for Richard Hannon including the listed Champion 2-y-old Trophy at Ripon last time, but I will be disappointed if SAKHEER does not win theMill Reef Stakes for Roger Varian.
The colt showed promise on debut at Windsor before scooting up at Haydock on his second start. He is reported to be working well and jockey David Egan certainly thinks he is ready for the step up in grade.
I appreciate he is short enough in the betting for one with just a moderate Haydock Novice win to his name, but this does not look the strongest renewal of the Mill Reef and the opening 7/4 did not last long on Thursday afternoon/evening.
Recommendation: Sakheer at 5/4 with 10Bet
PRINCE IMPERIAL looked a progressive stayerlastseason, and he is entitled to come on for his belated seasonal reappearance on the July course last month. He is guaranteed a place in the field for the Cesarewitch in three weeks trial, but today’s Trial is a valuable prize in itself and the 5-y-old should come into the race fresher than most.
He won at Ayr this time last year – albeit in a weaker race – from the same mark as he can race from this afternoon, and all ground come alike to this gelded son of Frankel. Trainer Richard Hughes has his string in good shape.
Recommendation: Prince Imperial EW at 9/1 with William Hill