A Novice Stakes (Plus 10). Eight two-year-olds take part over this 5f 21y on good going.
Four horses have race experience, two showing respectable form.
Choice Encounter is trained by Michael Bell. This handler has done well with his juveniles this season. This son of Choisir wasn't fancied on debut at Nottingham but showed promise running on in the closing stages without being whipped. There is little doubt connections sent him there knowing he needed the run.
Better was seen at Great Yarmouth in his second start finishing runner-up to To Wafij who is decent. In truth, the winner won well, while the third horse needed the race.
Bell's charge has respectable each-way claims.
Another of today's rivals, Indian Warrior, finished fourth behind Choice Encounter on debut. She needs to find some improvement to turn the tables. Ed Dunlop's daughter of Sepoy is likely to progress from that first start. On balance, I would favour Choice Encounter. However, if seriously backed it would give greater encouragement.
The twice-raced Front Page has been very unlucky not to have won both his starts to date. He was narrowly foiled by a head in the Brocklesby Stakes and then beaten the same distance when looking every inch the winner at Bath. David Evans knows his horses and this son of Pastoral Pursuits is a winner without a penalty. With experience on his side, he may be able to set the pace. However, on both starts this season this gelding has been slightly tapped for toe. Front Page may struggle for pace early doors. His strength is a late charge. If some of these race like the wind, he could be much bigger odds in running. That is the angle I would take if betting.
Charlie Appleby has been a law unto himself this season with four two-year-old winners from four. This Newmarket handler has many form lines to measure the ability of his debutantes, which is a strong hand to play at this time of year. Last Voyage is an American-bred son of Eskendereya who was purchased at two for $335,000. The betting has this colt priced about even money. The performance of the four earlier victors clearly sets the scene and bookmakers are unwilling to chance their luck. Whether punters will find any value at these odds is a matter of opinion. This course suits speed horses so a tardy start may bring problems. I would respect this horse but take a watching brief.
Richard Hannon fields two horses. Straight Ash was fancied on debut but ran no race. It was a time when Hannon's debutantes were failing miserably so there may have been an issue with the stable or simply that horses were left a little short of fitness. This son of Zebedee cost £36,000 at the yearling sales. A relatively small grey but a nice-looking horse in many ways. There is a fair chance a better performance will be seen today.
Wildnightinvegas makes his racecourse bow. This son of Kodiac has a relatively wide draw and cost £40,000 at the yearling sales. Hannon is a difficult trainer to assess with newcomers and especially when two horses line up. The stable often uses this as a ploy to exploit bookmakers.
Bond Angel looks unfancied in the betting and best watched.
Interesting to see Jim Boyle with an early first two-year-old. This handler is often ignored by punters but he can spring the odd surprise and Windsor has been a fair hunting ground for him in previous years. Following Breeze has a wide draw which isn't good news, especially birthed on the wing as horses often run into space. This son of Kodiac cost £38,000 at the yearling sales. He was originally purchased by Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock. Most likely in need of the race.
Conclusion: An interesting race. Last Voyage may be the fifth two-year-old winner of the season for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. It would be a brave punter to say it couldn't happen. However, I would question if there is any value at short odds. Sooner or later one of these is going to hit someone hard. This course suits front runners so a slow start would be a problem. Perhaps the short price may make one or two of these viable each-way alternatives.
Choice Encounter is progressing. He ran pretty well at Yarmouth although the winner won well and the third horse needed the race so he may have been a touch flattered by his proximity to those respectable charges. Looks the type of horse to run a sound race and has a good attitude. Should be in the first three.
Front Page sets the standard on the form. He should be a fair each-way bet. Even with experience, I could see him slightly outpaced before running on. I quite like a horse that finishes a race. The question for exchange players is whether you are able to obtain significantly greater odds in running. I suspect you will. That is the angle of interest. It is worth noting that this gelding has had two hard races. It is often the case when horses go close to winning. Two-year-olds can sour very quickly and they are likely to regress at some stage. This should be factored into the price.
Indian Warrior looks held on the Yarmouth running. However, Dunlop's horse is likely to improve and if seriously backed may have more chance that he looks.
Difficult to assess the Hannon pair. I would suspect that Straight Ash is much better than seen on debut. He was fancied in the betting and a compact, bonny, little colt who caught the eye. If the stable hold high hopes, he is likely to be backed.
Wildnightinvegas is best watched unless seriously backed.
Following Breeze is likely to need the run.
On balance, I would look to bet Front Page or Close Encounter each-way and hope the favourite isn't another leading light. I would let the market settle before betting on any horse in this contest because I have a feeling there may be one or two in opposition beyond the major players. If betting on Front Page, I would bet in running and hope he is outpaced before running on with verve gaining much greater odds.