An EBF Maiden Stakes (Plus 10) over 7f on the standard to slow going. Seven two-year-olds with racecourse experience and solitary debutante.
Roger Varian is finishing this turf season with sparkle after a torturous year with the stable suffering from illness. Yalawin is a French-bred son of Lawman in the familiar silks of Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum. This bay colt was fancied to go well on debut at Newbury when bookmakers priced up 3/1 at the off. He raced over six and a half furlongs when behind John Gosden's Parfait who had struggled to lose his maiden tag after being short priced on a few occasions and clearly held in some regard by connections. The second horse that day, Fire Fright, had been a model of consistency suggesting the form was fair if not outstanding. Yalawin kept on well in the final furlong. From a statistical point of view, this March foal has strong claims.
Richard Hannon doesn't seem quite the force of old although the stable has still achieved a decent number of wins this year - actually more than I would have guessed. Dick Tracy has raced three times this formative season and been fancied in the betting. This son of Lawman has an official rating of 81. He has run over a variety of distances ranging from seven to nine furlongs so may find this drop in distance goes at a livelier pace. The owner, John Manley, is no stranger to successful horses [Pethers Moon etc].
Saeed bin Suroor fields the only debutante. Next Challenge is a son of Shamardal out of a German mare who raced just six times at pattern class but achieved little success regarding form apart from being placed at Listed class on debut. Next Challenge cost 140,000E at the yearling sales. Worthy of respect.
The three times raced *Spirit Of Belle hails from Pat Phelan's stable, travelling from Epsom in Surrey. This son of Sir Percy is a homebred who was sent off huge odds on his first two starts but showed a glimmer of ability at Windsor. This bay colt wasn't disgraced last time out when third behind Pivoine. The betting that day suggested it was a two-horse race so there may be a chance he was slightly flattered by his proximity to the leaders.
Eve Johnson-Houghton doesn't have as many juveniles in her string. She's a very talented trainer when given the opportunity. Jake's Hill was priced 50/1 on debut at Nottingham over one mile and half a furlong. This son of Mount Nelson kept on well behind a decent type in Contrapposto after being in the rear. This is a marked drop in distance but you have to consider that the trainer knows best. However, running on this turning course can be a rude awakening and it wouldn't pay for this colt to be outpaced. If priced 13/2 & less SP has fair each-way claims. If weak in the betting, I would take a watching brief.
Owen Burrow's has a mighty owner in Hamdan Al Maktoum. Mafaaheem is a son of Shamardal out of a Listed winning mare. He was fancied to go well on debut at Newbury when ridden by Paul Hanagan. Although finishing seventh of nine he wasn't beaten far, less than five lengths from the winner. The betting suggested a bigger run was expected so it may be worth following the betting. If backed, it would bring more encouragement.
Perla Blanca and Imphal are best watched.
Conclusion: I've written this post quite early so using the tissue prices which doesn't help. I will wait until the betting settles as it may weed out a weak link or two. This could be tricky race because Yalawin, Dick Tarcy and Next Challenge have claims. While Jake's Hill & Mafaaheem could improve their debut efforts. These two are particularly interested if fancied in the betting. A watching brief.
*NR - Spirt Of Belle