As the saying goes, “one swallow doesn’t make a summer”, but with four winners this week from being bang out of nick for ages, it must feel like a proverbial heatwave for Ben Pauling and his HIGH BRIDGE (best price 20-1) has to come into the equation despite having to shoulder top weight. An excellent and promising third in a race that has turned out to be a pretty fair form guide during the season so far at Ascot on his seasonal reappearance, the Monsun gelding got his just rewards for that sterling effort when winning over today’s C&D last time out. Dictating matters from the front, the seven-year-old just had to be pushed out to repel the persistent challenge of the useful Charlie Parcs and with the likes of Mount Mews and Poppy Kay both going on to endorse the form since, his performance in victory reads well on paper. Moreover, that was his third success in as many starts at the Berkshire venue and that love affair with the this big, wide-open galloping track surely has to count for plenty come Saturday. Given how the recent renewals of this prestigious prize have panned out tactically, being a prominent racer is no bad thing and with his regular pilot – who gets a good tune out of him – set to ease his burden of top weight, the duo looked booked to go well at a big price.
As one would expect, there’s always a decent spattering of up-an-coming young talent trying to make an impact from the novice ranks in this contest and having run with great distinction in Grade 1 company at Sandown last time out, KALASHNIKOV (best price 12-1) has to come into the argument off his opening handicap mark of 141. Improving steadily throughout this season, Amy Murphy’s charge posted a career-high performance at the Esher track despite being beaten on merit by Summerville Boy, but as he also left the impression he could have done with much better ground, no doubt connections will be wanting the forecast rain to stay away. Either way, conditions will be nowhere near as bad as what they were at Sandown and having shown all his best form on a flat, left-handed track, everything looks set fair for a positive display providing his inexperience doesn’t catch him out.