Mijhaar looks likely to go off as a strong favourite for this decent prize. He is very lightly raced for a 4yo so is clearly not straightforward and after a decent run in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, had been strongly fancied to follow up in a similar handicap at Newmarket in July, only to find Fulgur, who had in fact beaten him on his debut over 1 mile, too good again. He is extremely short even though he could be well above these and especially since this race is at a mile when he gets further. It’s also his first run since July and I wouldn’t be touching him at the price.
Fury has run with a lot of credit this year already without winning and it seems the handicapper may have caught up on him. He may not have seen out the 1m1f on tough ground last time at Newmarket so a return to a mile will suit and he also ran into the clearly well handicapped Captain Bertie before that. This will be tough for him off 104 though and he surely only has a few lbs in hand, even that.
Thus it’s better to look elsewhere and off bottom weight NEUTRAFA could be where to go. She could not have been more impressive when demolishing her rivals over a mile at Nottingham on her first run back and after pulling very keen throughout in listed race at Goodwood that was run at a crawl, she again travelled like the winner only to not get the right passage and then the tank ran out late on. A return to better ground will suit while more importantly she gets a stronger pace to run at. She has bags of ability and should be more than up to running to a mark of 93.
Justonefortheroad has started the season well, winning his last two. He beat the progressive Captain Dimitrios in April and then beat Rodrigo De Torres two weeks later off this mark in a conditions race. Off 99 though he now looks handicapped up to his best and improvement will be needed in this grade, especially as the form has taken a couple of knocks already.
One who is hard to judge is Bezique, an Italian import who could be absolutely anything. She did subsequent Arc De Triomphe winner Danedream on her penultimate start but taking that form literally is hard. It seems as if she didn’t enjoy the soft ground at all when last seen and something else may have been amiss as she’s been off for over a year since. She doesn’t look that well handicapped for this and the safe call is that she is worth opposing, especially as she will need this. Money would be interesting though.
Cambridgeshire 1st and 2nd Prince Of Johanne and Stevie Thunder run, the winner for the first time since that victory. He won on his reappearance last year but the trip may be on the short side for him with all of his form at 1m1f+ and this being his first run at the trip since a 3yo. Stevie Thunder is now only 1lb lower than the mark he ran 2nd in that on but took a step backwards last time at Thirsk when holding up well in the Lincoln before then.
Although the form figures of Navajo Chief aren’t that inspirational, he ran a good race back on turf last time when 4th behind Penitent in a Listed race. He was rated 107 at a time last year, namely after winning a C&D handicap and although he didn’t acquit himself that well in Dubai, he is dropping onto a very good mark and conditions should be ideal.
Trade Storm seems to be a consistent type though he did find it tough to win off his mark last year. Connections tried him at 7f for one run last year and then at 1m2f which suggests they don’t know where to go to find any improvement and bacrs will probably have to bank on him simply improving for the winter.
I fancied Common Touch last year to run well in the Britannia at Royal Ascot but he never really got into the race on his first try over 7f. He did run a good 2nd after that though when back down a furlong to Webbow who seemed progressive at the time. More could be to come for one so lightly raced going in as a 4yo but Tony Hamilton prefers Justonefortheroad and he needs to prove the trip first too.
Godolphin had two representatives but Invisible Man is a non-runner and they’re left with Bridgefield who runs for the first time back from Meydan. He didn’t set the world alight there and I can’t see where improvement is going to come from on what he is already handicapped up to be.
One I haven’t mentioned and must have a saver on is TITUS MILLS. He was very smart as a juvenile but missed all of last year due to injury. He showed up well in the Earl Of Sefton for a long way and though he was last of seven last time at Kempton, again he is fully entitled to come on for both those runs. Brian Meehan has stated he expects a big run and he is going really well at home. Blinkers are on this time which may have a desired effect and he is dangerous to dismiss at a big price. Sos Brillante is the only other runner but is rated 74 and is miles out of the handicap.
There is good reason to oppose Mijhaar who although is the least exposed and most promising, is having his first run back for just under a year over a trip which may be on the short side. He could be far too good for these but i’m more than willing to avoid at that price in what is a good race. Fury may not have much in hand to win this off 104 but should get involved. Justonefortheroad may also find this tough off his mark in a better race, especially as the form of his last win has taken a couple of knocks. Navajo Chief was an impressive C&D handicap winner last year and runs off a good mark. I can’t see Trade Storm being good enough off a mark of 99. Common Touch still needs to prove he stays the mile well enough while Bezique, who comes from Italy, could be absolutely anything though may need this. Instead i’m going for NEUTRAFA. I was really taken by her when she won at Nottingham on her penultimate and she pulled far too hard last time out off a very slow pace but still travelled extremely well, only to find little due to her early exertions. The stronger pace will suit her and she could have a lot in hand off 93. Cambridgeshire winner Price Of Johanne may find this test a little start on his first start back, while the runner-up Stevie Thunder ran well enough in the Lincoln but has a poor run to overcome from last time. Bridgefield needs to find more on his first run back in the UK since Meydan but at a big price, TITUS MILLS is worth siding with. His trainer Brian Meehan expects a big run and after missing all of last year, is fully entitled to come on for his first two runs back where he showed to still have ability twice. If bouncing back to his best then he could go very close off a mark of 100 and I can’t not have a little on him.
Advice – Neutrafa 1.5pts e/w @12/1 generally
Titus Mills 1pt e/w @25/1 Stan James