A Novice Stakes over 5f on good to firm going. Six two-year-olds take part.
A fascinating contest.
Cardsharp made an impact on debut at Brighton. This son of Lonhro was noted by Group Horse as a talent. He was seriously backed and touched as short as 4/7f before weakening a touch before the race began. He won comfortably.
Mark Johnston had considered this bay colt for the Lily Agnes. He took this option, probably fearful of that idiosyncratic nature of that course. He is a decent juvenile. It is worth noting that he contested a Median Auction on his racecourse bow which can be a race type of some limitation.
The second and third haven't been disgraced although they have not set the world alight.
The later needs six furlongs.
Cardsharp won comfortable that day and I expect connections come here fancying their chances. He looks a potentially smart performer who may well have Royal Ascot on the agenda. The issue is the 6lb penalty. It may be a millstone around his neck.
Stakes races can be very difficult to assess before or after the race. A winner often destroys another form horse by many lengths so a penalty may not be enough to lower this horse's colours. Johnston will be smiling if he wins with a penalty because going to higher class on equal terms will seemingly give even greater hope.
Charlie Appleby has sent out three two-year-olds so far this season and they have all won. In fact, most have won in style. These winners must give a line. You'd expect Aqabah to have a winning standard of ability. This son of Exchange Rate cost $550,000. I'd keep a close check on the betting because a serious drift in the market may detail weakness. It would probably be significant if he starts favourite against a winner, even with that horse shouldering a penalty. It is never easy winning on debut and especially against experienced, especially, winning opposition with a reputation.
A few of James Tates two-year-olds have disappointed of late wich is a slight concern. I must admit I like Haddaf. This son of Dawn Approach ran well on debut. He was backed against a short-price favourite [1/3f] and went very close to winning. This bay colt travelled much the better horse and would have won with a fraction more experience. Third-placed, Dragon's Tail, won easily next start at Chester although he had improved markedly from the first race which saw him start at big odds.From what I understand, Haddaf is the best of Tate's two-year-olds seen this year. It's a shame there aren't three places because it would be a tempting each-way bet. With valuable experience and a weight advantage over the winner, it could be a decent chance.
Marco Botti does well with his debutantes although most show ability when priced 10/1 and less SP. Jellmood returned 12/1 but displayed a willing attitude and has a level of ability. This son of Acclamation finished third at Doncaster and had a slightly pronounced running action. The form of that race has taken a few knocked with Dahik disappointing at Chester. The fourth, Central City, finished third in the Lily Agnes, which was a decent effort in ways although I'm not sure if it was a vintage renewal. Slightly difficult to assess Jellmood but a horse who holds some hope.
Carouse is trained by Andrew Balding and racing in the familiar silks of Mick and Janice Mariscotti. He was a relatively cheap yearling purchase at 30,000G. Balding can win with his better juveniles on debut. The betting suggests other are more fancied.
Richard Hannon sends out Zabaletswanson. This son of Maxios cost 38,000E at the yearling sales.
Conclusion: Interesting race. Pity, it isn't three places for each-way backers. Cardsharp is held in some regard and even with a penalty may win. I think he is heading to Royal Ascot. Aqabah cost a lot of money and from a stable, that hasn't tasted defeat with its juveniles this season. That has its good and bad points. There is a worry he may be under priced. Also, it is never easy to give away experience to a winner. Haddaf may just prove the horse to beat. He travelled well on debut and is another held in some regard by connections. I think he will go well and if drifting to a decent price may well be worth an each-way bet two or three places. In truth, you may be best to take a watching brief because I would imagine better value can be found with much less opposition.