Ice Slice and Clotilde both arrive at Haydock in great form looking for their respective four timers, but Strong Steps (Best price 11-2) shaped with some promise at Newbury in a strong handicap on his latest start and could be poised to make an impact. The Aqlaam gelding was far from disgraced in a hot handicap behind the likes of Azraff and the consistent Gabrial’s Kaka last time and he should find conditions to his liking with Frankie Dettori back on board.
Ghinia could be a danger if there remains cut in the ground as she will be ridden aggressively and was only just touched off in a hot course and distance handicap last September.
Strong Steps - 0.5pt e/w @ 11/2
Not disgraced after travelling strongly on her reappearance, JOURNEY (Best price 13-8) looked as though the run would improve her at York and she should take some beating if she can replicate her performances over a mile-and-a-half last year. John Gosden’s filly moved powerfully over an inadequate trip on the Knavesmire before she blew up late on and was outspeeded inside the final furlong. That was a return of immense promise and there should be better to come today.
Last year’s winner Miss Marjurie is very much respected given she should be sharper for her Goodwood comeback behind Carnachy.
Journey - 1pt @ 13/8
This year’s Timeform Jury Stakes features a better class field than has often been the case so ADAAY (Best price 7-1) will probably need to produce a career best this afternoon to regain the winning thread. The presence of Leicester scorer Home Of The Brave, course specialist So Beloved and the talented, but enigmatic, Convey provide stiff opposition for William Haggas’ charge who should appreciate the drop in trip after failing to make an impact over a mile at Sandown on his return. That outing should have blown away any cobwebs and I expect the selection to be a more potent force now he tackles second furlongs for the first time since he won over that trip at Newbury last August.
It is perhaps worth recalling that the son of Kodiac was the first horse to inflict defeat on the classy Limato when he score on this day 12 months ago in the Sandy Lane Stakes and there is no doubting Adaay is a class performer on his day. There is every chance a personal best will be required today with Home Of The Brave looking so impressive on his seasonal reappearance and So Beloved, now two from two at the north west venue, skipping to a two-length triumph on his comeback. However, Adaay looks to have been primed for today’s Group Three and he looks nicely drawn to make an impact at a level he already displayed he is comfortable at.
Adaay - 0.5pt e/w @ 7/1
GIFTED MASTER (Best price 7-4) developed the reputation for being something of a tearaway in the formative part of his career, but that ability and exuberant energy has been harnessed in recent starts by his talented handler. The influence of top Irish rider Pat Smullen shouldn’t be underestimated either and the combination have yet to taste defeat in three starts. Classy filly La Rioja is highly respected given the manner and substance of her two turf victories last summer, but Gifted Master is taken to extend his winning run to six before heading to Royal Ascot for the Commonwealth Cup.