Learn By Heart and Dark Acclaim set a good standard in what will be a tough test of stamina for these juveniles. Learn By Heart looked a little one paced lst time at Newbury so a mile on soft to heavy ground should play to his strengths. Dark Acclaim won readily last time, looking green before idling and could be anything though his sire Dark Angel is not known for staying types with his stamina gifted from the dam’s side. The 7/2 about Dark Aclaim looks fair. The supremely well bred Dubhe has to come into calculations @ 9/2 and can improve plenty from his maiden win at Salisbury. This trip should suit him as he will be a middle distance horse next year. Dee Ex Bee bids to atone for his flop at York when well fancied in the Acomb Stakes but the 11/4 looks a little short as he has something to prove now. Chilean won a good maiden at Chelmsford and if transferring that form to turf aligned with more improvement, can go well @ 9/1.
Both Chemical Charge and Midterm have been highly tried but coming up short and though this looks easier, they are by no means streets ahead of the competition. This could be tactical with no clear front runners in the field with any of Midterm, Chemical Charge, Danehill Kodiac and Wild Hacked capable of making the running. On Quickened Clear’s figures Midterm, Chemical Charge and Scarlet Dragon are level and only five pounds ahead of Danehill Kodiac and Wild Hacked who are open to improvement. At the prices, a sporting bet on Wild Hacked @ 14/1 could well be the way to go. Having only had four runs on the all weather and looking progressive earlier in the season he is open to improvement and can be forgiven his running on turf which clearly doesn’t suit.
Harry Angel handled good to soft as a two year old and if the more testing conditions at Haydock do not inconvenience him, it is safe to say the course and distance winner is the one to beat and will likely be able to travel prominently without too much trouble. Whether one would want to take a short price about him in the deep ground is the major question. Tasleet definitely handles the ground but he has to bounce back from a below performance at Newmarket, likewise The Tin Man who was second in this race last year, both look the value alternatives to Harry Angel. Magical Memory’s best figures have come with cut in the ground but there is a suggestion he gets worried out of it at this level, but has defininte place claims while Maurice De Gheest winner Brando warrants utmost respect on the ground and Blue Point is not without a chance. All three need to find a little more or hope the main protagonists run below form to take this. Spirit Of Valour is an interesting runner having showed plenty of pace over seven furlongs and having handled softer ground as a two year old could go well dropping back to six and may cause Harry Angel problems on the front end.
A typically competitive seven furlong Ascot handicap with Birchwood and Squats heading the market. Birchwood ran a good race at Goodwood last time suggesting he can win one of these big handicaps but he may be better at a sharper seven furlongs and this stiff track may just find him out. Squats, on his penultimate start equalled his career best at Newbury before a below par run last time and it may be a lot to ask for him to reproduce a topeffort again though he is still well weighted and goes very well at Ascot. Along with Squats, Firmament and Von Blucher ran well in this race last year, the former looks a little high in the handicap but has place claims while Von Blucher is well handicapped but is starting to look hard to win with. El Hayem is short in the market and the way he has finished recent races suggests a step up in trip would benefit rather than dropping back to seven. Mjjack ran well in the International Stakes over course and distance but needs to settle better and improve to figure here but the 10/1 is a little tempting. Raising Sand is well thought of by trainer Jamie Osborne and has had his issues but won comfortably in the Shergar Cup over a mile last time. He travels in a manner that suggests seven furlongs is within his compass and if building on his last performance, is tempting @ 14/1 but he will need plenty of luck to weave through the field which will likely shuffle over to the stands rail. At a massive price it would be great to see Heaven’s Guest run a big race, he loves it here and is ridiculously well handicapped!
There will be a searching pace here with Copper Knight, Aleef and Midnight Malibu forcing the issue backed up by Distant Past and Green Door. That should suit the improving Holmeswood and though this is the softest ground he has encountered, looks the one to beat @ 11/2. Confessional, a twice winner of this race and beaten a head last year by Soie D’Leau, will be primed again though he has not won at this level since taking this race in 2013. 2016 winner Soie D’leau produced his best performances in the Autumn last year and with the eye catching booking of Silvestre De Sousa should be on the premises. With the market focusing around three year old Holmeswood the value may lie with another of the younger generation in Mayleaf Shine, who’s best efforts have come on soft ground this season and could be a tempting bet @ 10/1 for Ebor winning trainer Iain Jardine.
There will be talk of the draw regarding this race but with stalls 9, 12, 14 twice and 16 twice, winning in the last ten years, high draws are not a negative, rather a positive! Improving types Chiefofchiefs and Brilliant Vanguard are unexposed on artificial surfaces and have to be shortlisted but at around 7/1 there is little value in a sixteen runner field. Another unexposed type is Timeless Art for Karl Burke, who stole a race over course and distance after clever riding by Martin Harley and can improve again, he is a bit of unknown on the all weather. Ripoll is a much better horse on an artificial surface than he is on grass with his form reading well at Kempton after getting up over a mile last time, he could be a bit of value @ 16/1. Standing dish in this race is Georgian Bay @ 12/1, winning it in 2015 before just missing out last year. He may be seven years of age but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he could go close again given the likely strong pace and this race does not look as strong as last year. Two three year olds worth consideration are the Richard Hannon pair of Mustarrid and Ventura Blues though both need to find more at the weights.
A competitive renewal of the Superior Mile Stakes with 2016 second Mitchum Swagger attempting to go one better after being beaten a head by Hathal. Having looked a slightly tricky ride David Lanigan has added the cheekpieces to Mitchum Swagger which have had a positive effect winning last time albeit in a weak race. This gelding by Paco Boy is a talented individual and the one to beat if returning to his form of last season. Morando hit a flat spot at Leopardstown last time before finishing well and may improve again, he should be thereabouts. Ballet Concerto has won his last two starts and like Morando may improve again but his win in the Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury was messy and this is a much stronger race. Benbatl is interesting dropping back to a mile, his run in the Craven in May was as good as any of his other efforts this season and he has to be considered. Poor old Sovereign Debt does not deserve the penalty and this will probably be his undoing again while course and distance winner Rusumaat could go well from the front at a price. Flaming Spear and You’re Hired have place claims at bigger odds.
Considering this is a big field, apart from Rake Progress it is hard to see if anything else will force the pace. Cape Coast, Mister Belvedere and Torcello race prominently but are not out and out front runners so this could be run steadily which will make it difficult to gain ground at the business end. Cape Coast is the obvious one to mention and clearly stays well but has to handle the softer ground. First Nation and Anythingtoday are contenders but are not open to as much improvement as others and will need to find more while To Dibba steps up markedly in trip and it remains to be seen if he will stay, with the 8/1 a little short. Torcello and Mam’Selle both look progressive hailing from yards who do well with these types, are proven on softer ground and both should get good positions in the race. The 10/1 and 12/1 about them looks fair. Seafarer for Marcus Tregoning is open to improvement and can go well for apprentice Tyler Saunders while Londinium, Gleny’s The Menace and Rake’s Progress can make the frame.
My Reward was allowed to dictate things when winning at Chester last time but with stablemate Mukhayyam and Ravenous in the field the race looks likely to be run at a good gallop. My Reward can still go well but he is best when able to dominate. There are a few runners with questions to answer not least Great Fighter with the ground a concern, Graceland does not win very often but is a solid ‘each-way’ horse, Tawdea, now well handicapped, ran a little better on Thursday but has failed at this trip three times and Compton Place who steps up in trip and class. Jaameh is a solid proposition and though his form may just have plateaued, he will be suited by the flat, galloping course that is Haydock. Sepal rates as the most interesting contender, she is progressive and should relish conditions with the 7/1 a fair price. At bigger odds it would be no surprise to see Andrew Balding get the best out of Cleonte who could go well @ 20/1.