Just half a dozen go to post for a race that is always one of the most eagerly anticipated of any Flat campaign.
The three-year-olds take on the older horses and this race is littered with great performances and fantastic renewals, the one that everyone points to being that famed clash between Grundy and Bustino way back in 1975, which was dubbed the ‘Race of the Century’ at the time.
We’re in another century now but that tingle of anticipation doesn’t fade, for this time we have the Irish Derby winner and Epsom third, Westover, taking on the brilliant filly Emily Upjohn, while the magnificent Mishriff and last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Torquator Tasso are also among the field.
At longer odds, neither Broome, who represents Aidan O’Brien, nor Pyledriver, who won last year’s Group 1 Coronation Cup, can’t be written off.
So who is going to write their name into racing history this time?
I was at the Curragh when WESTOVER won the Irish Derby and he was very impressive, in bolting clear of his field and he could probably have won over further. Colin Keane, who rode him that day as a theoretical one-off because it was at a track he knows well, has retained the mount in a
Hornby had been on board when Westover was slightly unlucky to have to settle for third in the Derby at Epsom last month. He made rapid strides that day and confirmed that was no fluke in Ireland.
At these weights, he has to be the pick. He’s still on an upward curve, has yet to be fully extended and looks capable of a fair bit more improvement.
You’d have to be respectful of the chance of Musidora winner and Oaks second Emily Upjohn. Frankie Dettori retains the mount, despite coming in for criticism for his ride on her at Epsom, when the flew home late but could not peg back Tuesday.
More than anyone, Frankie will want to get it right this time and, with all the allowances, the filly cannot be ruled out. This stiff circuit should, arguably, be even more to her liking than either York or Epsom.
Mishriff has a string of top prizes to his name, including last year’s Dubai Sheema Classic and Juddmonte International on the Knavesmire. I was at Sandown Park for the Eclipse recently and put this horse up each-way, as I thought he was a silly price for what he’d achieved, despite conceding weight.
He duly ran a cracker, though it always felt like it was a prep race of sorts for this. In selecting Westover, it is this Gosden runner that I fear the most. He’s a world class performer who will be cherry ripe for this and he should go very close again.
He’s not really backable each-way at 7/2 in a six-runner field, but it might be prudent to back him as a win ‘saver’ to recover your Westover stake, should he prove good enough to beat the three-year-old.
Conditions will be vastly different from the heavy ground on which Torquator Tasso won the Arc, and there is no doubt that he would be a much shorter price if the was any ‘soft’ in the going description. Hugely respected though he is – he won a German Group 2 last time on good to soft – he is not going to be seen to best effect on the fast ground forecast for the Berkshire track.
The Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes winner Broome is priced up at 18/1, but that was a C&D success and on fast ground. Aidan O’Brien is unlikely to be sending him back if he didn’t think he had some sort of chance. That Hardwicke win was a career-best, so he may still be eek out a little more from the Australia colt and he can’t be written off.
Pyledriver is a very good horse on his day. His form is perhaps a bit less consistent than some at this elite level and he too would prefer slightly slower ground than forecast to be seen to best effect.