A Conditions Stakes over 6f 1y on Standard going.
Five three-year-olds take part at level weight. Collectively these talented horses have won eight races. Noted thoroughbreds with official ratings ranging from 76 -103.
In many respects, this win prize money is small change to what some of these may achieve in future races.
Sutter County stuck in the mind after a sparkling debut win which left his opposition nine lengths behind. This son of Invincible Spirit has struggled with injury but a talent who looked to have shrugged off fears of a downward spiral when making a positive return in November. Mark Johnston's charge ran a cracking race last time out at Kempton when worn down in the closing stages by the progressive Second Thought. With an official rating of 103, it will take a good horse to stop this front runner.
Richard Hannon's Tomily has bumped into Sutter County a couple of times in his career and beaten twice. This chestnut son of Canford Cliffs is a speedy sort who may be better suited by the minimum trip. He was readily denied by Sutter County last time out although that was his first run since October. It could well be the case he needed the run and should battle harder today.
Robert Cowell has a decent horse in Visionary. This son of Dream Ahead made light work of average opposition on debut at Brighton, although punters were probably mumbling under their breath after a slow start. This January foal is owned and bred by Khalifa Dasmal although put through the sales ring when bought in by Cowell for 20,000G. He has been a consistent horse in all four starts to date. When beaten, it hasn't been by any great distance and he secured a nice prize [£11,971] when winning over the minimum trip at Wolverhampton in early January. Bar his debut, Visionary has raced over 5f. Connections are dipping their toe into this higher level and probably feel this extra furlong may help negate his official rating . By all accounts, this step up in distance should suit. Whether he is quite good enough, time will tell.
Jeremy Noseda is a class trainer. He doesn't have too many three-year-olds racing at this time of year which indicates Winning Ways is an improving horse. This son of Lope De Vega - an Irish-bred out of an unraced mare - has been fancied on all three starts but firmly put in his place on debut by South Seas who has proven to be an outstanding talent.
Winning Ways was expected to shine the second start at Haydock but may have faltered in the soft ground conditions. To be fair, it wasn't the strongest of fields when winning by five lengths last time out over course and distance. It would be harsh to knock a horse who wins with ease at odds of 1/3f. With an official rating of 80, this will be a challenge. Bookmakers have this horse priced 11/2 [4:30 PM]. They may feel this relative of Dick Whittington hasn't shown his hand just yet.
Ferocity needs to find huge improvement with an official rating of 76.
Conclusion: An intriguing race. Sutter County is progressing well and sets a pretty stiff challenge. Johnston's charge is likely to set the pace and will take some pegging back. The odds could be priced to chance so I wouldn't rush out to bet at short prices although respect this colt.
Tomily was beaten easily last time by the above-mentioned horse and needs to find more today. It is very likely he needed the run that day and he is a speedy, tough little horse who could get closer. On balance, I would favour Sutter County.
Visionary will improve for this step up in trip but needs to. Difficult to assess this runner. It's a similar story with Winning Ways. Official ratings suggest he has a mountain to climb but Jeremy Noseda is a canny trainer and bookmakers are clearly being cautious in case his first two start didn't show his true self. Ferocity would be a surprise winner.
I'm rooting for Sutter County. He will put down a bold show. I'd be slightly surprised if he is beaten but at short odds in this race type, I would rather enjoy this contest than bet and be disappointed if the favourite is defeated.