What a race this is building up to be, the market is headed by Genki, Palace Moon, Hawkeyethenoo and Enact, of which 3 of those faced each other at Newamrket in May. Hawkeyethenoo came out on top there but he is by no means a certain runner as he is not rated high enough, you will need to be at least 95 to get in in my view. Connections however will try and get a penalty this Friday night at Hamilton in their version of this race, but he is not certain to win there in any event.
Genki ran a cracker in that Newmarket race and although seemingly only just winning at Haydock recently his target all season has been another crack at winning this for the 2nd year in succesion.
Palace Moon has been reported as an uncertain runner and connections may feel after his run in the Bunbury Cup that his best distance may now be 7f.
Enact has the look of one of those Stoute runners that creeps in under the radar, this will be her first run since the Newamrket race and prior to that she hadnt run since October. She showed improved form at headquarters and Stoutey doesnt keep them in training for nothing so she looks sure to be thereabouts.
Johnny Mudball has been running well all year and his latest win at Newcastle was a demolition job in a fast time, however he very much had the run of the race there as the fastest bit of the course was up the stands rail and he hugged it all the way.
Dandy Nicholls is a master of the big sprints and his 3yo Victoire De Lyphar won the very competitive Reg Griffin at York from Iver Bridge Lad with Astrophysical Jet back in 6th (winner of a decent handicap at Newmarket last time out).
Striking Spirit always runs well in these big handicaps and it was no disgrace to finish 2nd to Laddies Poker Two in the Wokingham with Palace Moon 3rd and he is sure to run his race once again.
Of the bigger prices Rileyskeepingfaith could represent good value against the fav on their recent running at Haydock, he was 2nd there and he is better off at the weights for this and substantially better at the prices.
Jimmy Styles winner of last seasons Ayr Gold Cup is another who runs well in the big one's and it wouldnt be a suprise to see him return to form in this especially if its fast going.
One who has the bookmakers somewhat confused as to his ability is James Fanshawes Bagamayo who was 2nd in a competitive 3yo handicap at Newamarket earlier in the year, the magic sign have him at 16/1, whereas Betfred have him at 40/1 and he has a high enough rating to get into the race, but Danetime was the last 3yo to win this in 1997.
Oldjoesaid from the astute Kevin Ryan stable is one who has dropped steadily down the weights and he was purchased for a reason at the end of last season by connections and it wouldnt be out of place for him to run a big race.
As you can see it is a very competitive renewal, howeverI wouldnt put anyone off having some speculative wagers, however the cut off point is likely to be roundabout the 95 mark so make sure non runner no bet is in operation if you fancy one below this mark.
I will try and keep you updated as the days countdown to the big event.