We have another busy weekend of flat-racing action upon us with Shergar Cup day at Ascot; as well as an excellent card, incuding the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, at the Curragh on Sunday. The race I’ll be previewing, however, is today’s Group 3 Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock Park at 2:55pm.
The Merseyside track has played host to some strong, competitive races over the last two days; and the highlight of the meeting’s final day should be no different. This year’s renewal fascinates me, with various form channels on show providing an intriguing puzzle.
The current favourite, at around 7/2, is Sir Michael Stoute’s 4 year-old Hillstar. Few will deny that it’d be a deserved success for the son of Danehill Dancer should he get his head in-front, after finishing runner-up on each of his last three outings. All of those efforts represent rock-solid form, especially the most recent in which he split a pair of subsequent Glorious Goodwood winners in the Princess of Wales’ Stakes at HQ. The concern for Ryan Moore’s mount has to be the drop back in distance to the extended mile and a quarter, given that all of his best efforts over the last two seasons have been at a mile and a half or beyond.
Nabucco (8/1) was giving away 3lbs to both Amralah (10/1) and Vancouverite (5/1) when finished 3rd behind that pair at Newbury; but meets them at level weights today and there may not be much between that re-opposing trio. Preference would be for the Godolphin inmate, Vancouverite, who was lacking race fitness on that occasion. Charlie Appleby’s lightly-raced colt ran creditably in a couple of Group 1’s in Dubai, and we may not have seen the best of him yet.
Danadana (11/1) has to put a poor run in the York Stakes behind him if he’s to feature under Andrea Atzeni, while Ismail Mohammed’s Educate (6/1) brings some decent handicap form to the table and is the selection of the Value Horse Tips boys today, picking up 7/1 last night, and must run well too.
TRUE STORY (9/2) is without doubt the most interesting of the 3 year-olds – who are all in receipt of 9lbs from their elder rivals. Saeed Bin Suroor, who won this in 2012 with Hunter’s Light, has endured a frustrating season with the once Derby ante-post favourite. A shock defeat in the Dante was followed by a modest 7th in the Derby; though his Eclipse fifth was certainly a step back in the right direction. The trip looks perfect, providing the pace is true; and if Kieren Fallon can get him to settle early, I can see him proving too strong for his eight rivals in this lesser grade.