On the evidence of the action yesterday, the going at the Berkshire venue was a good deal softer than the official description (particularly in the last two furlongs) so with that in mind, ROBANNE (best price 16-1) might have a better chance than her morning price suggests. A progressive two-year-old last season, William Knight’s charge earned her place in the 1000 Guineas field thanks to a pleasing effort in the Nell Gwynn, but unfortunately the ground went against her on the day and she failed to cut much ice. Not seen out since running better than her finishing position suggests in a listed race at Deeauville back in June, the daughter of Paco Boy arrives here fresher than most and from a favourable double-figure draw (stands side seemed to have an advantage here yesterday), she has a decent chance of getting herself in the mix.
GUSTY ROCKY (best price 10-1) arrives here in excellent shape courtesy of a notable success in the Ulster Cesarewitch on the Flat at Down Royal last time out and that confidence he gained that day should hopefully be carried forward into today’s assignment at a track where he previously victorious back in June. On that day in the height of summer, Pat Flynn’s inmate made mincemeat of a useful field in a fast time and with his number one asset being his high cruising speed, another soundly-run race should prove to be just the trick for this in-form seven-year-old.
REMARKABLE (best price 8-1) has come a long way in a short space of time and he has every chance of landing this big pot if he can run somewhere near the level that saw him finish a creditable fifth in the Jersey Stakes when last seen in June. Indeed, John Gosden’s charge might have finished a good deal closer than he did if he would have received a smoother passage in the latter stages and having already proven himself adept at going well fresh, his lay off since the middle of summer has to be taken as a positive rather than a negative.
On the evidence of his performance in the Galway Plate, Road To Riches hasn’t really recovered from the crunching fall he suffered in the Grade 1 Chase at Punchestown last season and with that in mind, he’s readily passed over at the morning prices in favour of BALLYCASEY (NAP) (best price 9-2). Third in that aforementioned race at Ballybrit, Willie Mullins’ charge proved his wellbeing with a deserved success at Killarney next time out and although he failed in his bid to follow up in the Kerry National three weeks later, once again the three-mile journey under testing conditions took its toll in the latter stages. Back over his optimum trip over a track where he’s been success twice in the past, the son of Presenting makes massive each-way appeal at 5-1
Given that IFFRANESIA (best price 16-1) was the lowest rated horse going into the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh last time out, she did extremely well to mix it with some of the best sprinters either side of the Irish Sea and a reproduction of that sort of effort should ensure she easily outruns her odds in this much weaker event. Although she hadn’t been in scintillating form up until that juncture, Robert Cowell’s charge had been in deep against proper Group 1 horses and having already proven she likes today’s C&D with a victory here back in 2014, 16-1 seems an insulting price given she has plenty in her favour.
PUMAFLOR (best price 10-1) looked on good terms with himself when scoring in tidy fashion at Haydock last time out and he’s taken to follow up and land the final of this series for his in-form handler. The feature of that performance at the Lancashire track was the way he travelled throughout the contest and although he hit the front plenty soon enough, he had enough in the locker to repel the late challenge of Top Break. Prior to that victory, Richard Whitaker’s inmate had gone really well on both his previous two visits at today’s venue and from a nice middle draw, let’s hope the son of Aussie Rules can get plenty of cover early on before being delivered with his challenge late in the piece.
***For all National Hunt fans, I recommend John Morris' Jumping Prospects Guide (25th year) which you should find a profitable accompaniment to the new season. To order your copy, go to www.jumpingprospects.co.uk***