Dee Ex Bee (Best price: 25-1)

Ordinary pedigree and respectable form point to him being short of the necessary quality but this tough Mark Johnston-trained horse has a record of steady improvement. Won here in October and also at Goodwood last year, so undulating tracks hold no fears for him, and both those wins came on rain-softened ground, which he gets again. “Never nearer” third in a trial here in April, then kept on into second in the Chester Vase. No great surprise if he keeps plugging away for a place once more but makes little appeal for the outright win.

 

Delano Roosevelt (16-1)

Won a Leopardstown maiden on his debut in July but beaten all four starts since, albeit while showing promise. Comfortably held by Saxon Warrior when two and a half lengths behind him at Naas in September. Second in two long-established Derby trials this spring, notably when “never nearer” behind Hazapour at Leopardstown last time. Hardly showed lightning acceleration that day but this son of Galileo ought to appreciate the extra quarter-mile here. One of five for Aidan O’Brien.

 

Hazapour (9-1)

Product of the Aga Khan breeding that has sometimes done well here, including two years ago with Harzand, whose half-sister is this one’s mother. Won a Galway maiden on soft from three starts last year. Odds of 16-1 suggested little was expected when he reappeared in the Leopardstown trial last month but he travelled well, led when asked to do so and held off Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon. Could improve again and an obvious contender, especially with Dettori booked to guide him through the race.

 

Kew Gardens (40-1)

Perhaps the least likely of Aidan O’Brien’s five, although such talk is dangerous after the trainer’s 50-1 winner 12 months ago. Won a Killarney maiden and a Newmarket Listed race, beating Dee Ex Bee, last year but trailed Saxon Warrior by three lengths at Naas. Looks short of pace and vulnerable once more.

 

Knight To Behold (20-1)

Sprang into contention when landing the Lingfield trial by daylight last month, when he took a keen hold, was allowed to stride on from an early stage and was never reeled in by his rivals, headed by Kew Gardens. The stated plan is to settle him behind a lead this time, though he looks a strong stayer and aggressive tactics could actually play well once more. Bred to do the job and any improvement for his reappearance run would make him dangerous.

 

Masar (25-1)

Godolphin runner was not quite good enough for Saxon Warrior in the Guineas, coming up short by a length and three-quarters and hard to think he can improve much on that form. Last five starts came at a mile and it’s not clear that an extra half-mile will help him, though his pedigree offers some hope. Needs the ground to dry up.

 

Roaring Lion (9-1)

Came closer than anything else has done to beating Saxon Warrior when held by just a neck at Doncaster in October, when he quickened to take the lead before being outbattled. Was two and a half lengths behind that rival when only fifth in the Guineas but excuses could be made and he was much more impressive when storming home in the Dante a fortnight later. Blistering speed he showed off a steady pace that day suggests an extra quarter-mile may not play to his strengths, especially on rain-softened ground. Looks a hard ride and has trouble keeping straight in the closing stages. Bundles of ability and a worthy second-favourite if the ground proves drier than expected.

 

Saxon Warrior (11-10 fav)

Unbeaten in four and unquestionably the right favourite, he is the only Group One winner in this field, having won two such races. Outbattled Roaring Lion at Doncaster in the autumn. Was thought to be vulnerable on his first start back and was not favourite when winning the Guineas, travelling smoothly and scoring with some authority. Any improvement on that would make him very hard to beat, short of trouble in running. Must prove his stamina for the extra half-mile, which can’t be taken for granted on his pedigree or his run-style. Draw in stall one is often a problem over this course and distance but he has the tactical pace to minimise that. Four stablemates will surely not be getting in his way. An immensely valuable stallion prospect if he can win this

 

Sevenna Star (33-1)

Form and pedigree give this one plenty to prove and Dettori, who could have ridden, has gone for Hazapour instead. Beaten in both starts as a juvenile but had a wind operation in the winter and better this year though the bare form isn’t good enough.

 

The Pentagon (33-1)

Another of O’Brien’s five, this one is starting to look exposed as not good enough after six starts. Won a Curragh maiden and a Group Three at Leopardstown but the most recent of those was in July. Neither the rain nor the extra distance are necessarily a help.

 

Young Rascal (8-1)

Finished strongly to win the Chester Vase last month, having been brave to take a gap between rivals at the crucial moment. On the face of it, a half-length defeat of Dee Ex Bee is not enough to scare fans of Saxon Warrior and this colt may have plenty of running to do from the home turn, as he looked a bit short of early speed that day. But his stamina is not in question, the recent rain helps and he will surely be there to make a challenge if more fancied rivals falter.

 

Zabriskie (66-1)

One of the best bred in the field but yet to show that level of class on the track. Has more to offer and the recent rain gives him a chance to outrun his big odds. To be ridden by Padraig Beggy, who sprang such a surprise in this race last year but has hardly had a winner since.

 

 

 

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