With only Swift Approval as a recognised front-runner, the pace may be a sedate one with the far side likely to be favoured. That should suit Ekhtiyaar @ 9/2 who is the most obvious contender and having had an interrupted season last year should put that behind him and is likely to improve again. It is interesting that he is still a colt, has an entry in the Abernant Stakes, a group three on Thursday and with four year olds winning both renewals of this race, looks the one to beat. Of that age group Danielsflyer, a course winner at this level, has to be respected and bids to bounce back after a season that progressively declined last year and has now been gelded. Hyperfocus is talented but needs to improve markedly on his reappearance at Bath and both his turf wins came on much softer ground than this, so there are question marks against him. Shanghai Glory, a lightly raced five year old who has obviously had his problems went close in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon but it would be a surprise to see him get the better of Ekhtiyaar here. Shanghai Glory, Hyperfocus, Danielflyer and 2017 fourth Mont Kiara are all drawn stands side which may not be the place to be and it could be worth considering the likes of Shared Equity, Eastern Impact or Boy In The Bar. Shared Equity would not want the ground to dry out to good or faster, in contrast, Eastern Impact loves it fast and has run well in this race before while Boy In The Bar has course form, ran well last time at Chelmsford and could go well @ 18/1.
Unexposed types are the ones to look for in the European Free Handicap and it is worth concentrating on Folk Tale, Hey Jonesy, Finniston Farm and Snazzy Jazzy. Hey Jonesy finished the season with a good fourth in the Middle Park Stakes and being bred for this trip, is an obvious contender @ 5/1. Finniston Farm @ 11/2 has not been seen since July when staying on in the Superlative Stakes on the July course. Whether seven furlongs is going to be on the short side for him remains to be seen but there should be plenty more to come from Tom Dascombe’s three year old. Similarly, Folk Tale’s last appearance on the track was in July when finding the Railway Stakes too hot and like Finniston Farm, his progression is a bit of unknown but he has to come into calculations @ 10/1. Snazzy Jazzy won a big sales race at The Curragh in September and unbeaten, is open to improvement and can go well @ 6/1 for Clive Cox and Hector Crouch.
Kalondra heads the market in what is a very open race. He was steadily improving until running well below form at Sandown and having not convinced at Wincanton on his second start over fences, it may be that he prefers going left–handed. With course form already in the bag, has to be of interest here @ 6/1. Neil Mullholland is well represented in this race and also has a live contender in Shantou Village who will like the drying ground, has course form and presuming he is fit, can be competitive @ 12/1. Go Conquer ran as well as can be expected at Kempton last time but again will find it difficult to dictate the pace in such a big field though warrants respect @ 10/1. Voix D’Eau returns to the scene of his 2016 victory and cannot be ruled out, Jameson is of interest @ 16/1 but needs to improve yet that was his best performance so far in the Close Brothers at Cheltenham. Casino Markets has been globetrotting in America but was fourth in this race last year, staying on after being slightly hampered and can go well @ 33/1.
Whether the ground will be quick enough for Deauville remains to be seen but he is clearly not the most straightforward and needs to bounce back from his two disappointing runs at Woodbine and Sha Tin. That said on the figures he is the best horse in the race and the one to beat @9/4 . Robin Of Navan ran well in the Darley Club Stakes over course and distance last October and should be fit for this after making his seasonal debut at Chantilly last month. He is one to consider but with Frankuus in the field, is likely to be taken on for the lead. Forest Ranger is worthy of a second look @ 9/2 but he is yet to win a stakes race and that is slight cause for concern. Arguably his best form is over this trip having finished second to Mustashry at York, though he did get a soft lead which he is unlikely to get here. Euginio is open to improvement and could go well at 11/1 as could Master Of the World @ 9/1 who has been better than ever on the all weather this winter.
Threading produce an impressive display in the Lowther Stakes before disappointing in the Cheveley Park last year and on the York form would have a strong chance. It is interesting to note that all bar one of the last ten winners of this race had form over at least seven furlongs, which just questions her credentials for this race. Altyn Ordea @ 15/2 progressed on each of her three runs last season culminating in a neck defeat of the smart Gavota in the Oh So Sharp Stakes and she is a definite contender. Strong market moves must be watched here and with lightly raced types Soliloquy, Zain Hana and Nawassi, who’s trainer John Gosden has won the last two renewals of this race, all lining up, significant money for any of them will be a fair pointer. Hikmaa, Billesdon Brook and Ertiyad all have place claims but will likely find one or two improvers too good for them for win purposes.
Quickened Clear’s Best Bets:
SNAZZY JAZZY – 2.25 Newmarket – 1pt win @ 6/1
A race that usually goes to a lightly raced sort means we can put a line through most of the field leaving Hey Jonesy, Folk Tale, Finniston Farm and Snazzy Jazzy. Folk Tale and Finniston Farm have not been seen since July which is a slight worry while Hey Jonesy has solid group one form but has a fair weight to carry for what he has achieved. The unbeaten Snazzy Jazzy’s victory at The Curragh when last seen reads well with Dragons Tail in third, as does his defeat of Society Power on his second start at Windsor. Snazzy Jazzy’s mark may be on the lenient side and drawn nicely near the rail, is worth a bet @ 6/1.
EUGINIO – 3.00 Newmarket – 1pt win @ 11/1
With the free-going Frankuus, Robin Of Navan and Forest Ranger in the field, this could well be run at a very strong pace suiting hold-up types. Obviously Deauville is the best horse in the race, but also not the most straightforward and after a couple of poor runs when last seen aligned with good to soft ground, is probably worth taking on. Euginio, talked of as a long term project by trainer Richard Hannon, steadily improved last season and if that improvement has continued over the winter, could be a player here. The likely strong pace will suit and having handled the undulations of the Rowley Mile previously, Euginio is worth a speculative punt @ 11/1.