Eight three-year-olds take part: seven lightly raced and one debutante, the solitary filly.
The betting suggests we have four live chances.
David Barron's three-year-olds have been in flying form of late. It is a good sign when he fields runners this time of year as they are in search of wins. Spiritofhayton drifted markedly in the betting on debut over today's course and distance. It's intriguing why this son of Big Bad Bob was so weak in the market considering he ran so professionally, headed in the closing stages, to finish second, beaten by less than one length. A number of horses from that race have disappointed since so it may well be the case it was a poor race. It is possible connections thought this January foal needed the race. Whatever the circumstance, he ran well and is likely to improve for that initial start. He hasn't been seen for forty-five days so there may have been an issue.
William Muir is a very good judge of his horses. It spoke volumes that Saxon Flames was well found in the betting when making his debut over 7f at Lingfield. Martyn Dwyer took the ride as he does today. This bay colt, a son of Shamardal, is out of a debut-winning mare (actually won her first two starts, never to win again) who was a talent, similarly owned and trained. She raced at Group class, achieved a highest official rating of 112. She went close on a couple of occasions at Group 2. Saxon Flames must have been showing up well on the gallops as very few of Muir's debutantes start 4/1. M J Caddy [owner] is worth noting for this stable. They have done well with a number of talented horses: Kahlua Kiss (2006) & Material Witness (2004). Saxon Flames could be one of the better horses Caddy has owned. He ran well on debut to finish second. This step up in distance should bring further improvement and sure to be primed.
Excel Again is a son of Exceed And Excel. He cost 110,000G when bought at the yearling sales, originally purchased and trained by Hugo Plamer, but made his debut with another fine handler in James Tate. This March foal was well backed on debut and may have been a touch unlucky not to have won, finishing in third place by less than one length and considered an ''improver'' by the race reader. There wasn't a great distance between the first five and with an unfancied winner it looked to be a strangely run race. There is an interesting point about this horse which I can't detail but I am confident it will run a big race. If available at each-way odds that will give a little room to manoeuvre. Should be fit and ready.
Brian Ellison can spring the odd surprise with his Flat horses, especially two & three-year-olds. Bowban is a son of Makfi who has been relatively fancied on his first two starts. A £12,000 yearling purchased, 35,000E at two. This bay colt was priced 6/1 on debut before drifting to 9/1 SP. That is pretty fancied for an Ellison debutante. He was outpaced mid-race but stayed on into third spot. He stepped up to 1m 2f next start when runner-up to a seventy-six rated horse, who left him flat-footed. Interesting to see whether this drop back in distance will find him a touch outpaced.
The only filly in the line-up, Coral Princess. Keith Dalgleish can go well with his debutantes. This bay daughter of Elzaam was a cheap two-year-old purchase costing 6,000G. A low price tag doesn't inspire. The five-pound apprentice means she gets in this race off a handy weight. However, it is never easy for a filly to take on the colts especially on her racecourse bow.
River Warrior, Elite Icon and Redarna are best watched.
Conclusion: The betting suggests this is a four-horse race. Unless something unusual happens it most likely will.
Spiritofhayton was a big price on debut although Barron's horses have been in flying form. I suspect that was a limited race and connections didn't think he would win. He will be ready for today and worthy of respect. Bowban has run well on both starts to date and fancied in the betting, too. Just a slight concern whether this drop back in distance will suit. Saxon Flames is well bred. If taking after sire or dam he will be a fair horse. Well backed on debut and should enjoy this step up in distance. I can see him taking some beating. I'm similarly interested in Excel Again. An expensive buy, well owned, trained and backed on debut. There should be marked improvement on that first start. Presently priced 9/4. If getting to an each-way price has respectable win and place claims.