Power play in Palace
Man On The Spot previews Saturday's terrestrial TV action from Newmarket and Goodwood.
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Trumpet Major's overall profile has been rather disappointing since landing last year's Craven Stakes before finishing fourth in the 2000 Guineas. But he has to be of interest dropping into handicap company for the first time, understandably conceding weight all round. Faraaj is next in the weights and should be spot-on after his fifth place finish in a hot Polytrack contest last time but Sir Michael Stoute enjoys an enviable record with his older horses and BOLD SNIPER is a fascinating contender dropped to this trip. He was highly progressive last season until disappointing at Glorious Goodwood and was subsequently rested. This looks a feasible starting point for the new campaign and he's one to follow whatever his fate here. Race-fit Stand My Ground is a strong northern challenger with Roserrow and the unexposed Big Baz also noted in a competitive opener.
Walia, winner of a Listed race over this trip at Newmarket last season, is probably the one to beat if fully wound-up but she hasn't sparkled on a couple of runs on rain-softened ground so far. Yarmouth second Freedom's Light has some scope but steps up in class while Livia's Dream struggles to get her head in front and is another who would have preferred a faster surface. SPECIAL MEANING won over 1m2f on good to soft ground around this time last year and made a satisfactory reappearance over 1m6f at Musselburgh. She might be the answer to this as this will be Wall Of Sound's first try over the trip, though her Ripon victory has been franked. Bonanza Creek will probably need this.
SOLE POWER has been a tremendous servant to the Lynam team and last year's King's Stand Stakes winner sets the standard in this Group 3 contest in which he was successful last year. He may not have added to his impressive tally in Meydan during the Carnival but was only beaten a couple of lengths in a couple of really hot sprints. With race fitness assured, he can take advantage of this drop in grade and complete the double. The main threat is Pearl Secret, third behind the selection in that King's Stand but not seen again last term due to injury. He made his comeback when cruising home in a Nottingham conditions' event and could well take high rank in the sprinting echelon this term. He's undeniably talented. Justineo and Moviesta were both highly progressive last term and add considerable spice to an enticing contest along with Rocky Ground, who could be better than he's hitherto shown in a truncated career.
George Guru has been in terrific form on the Polytrack and won this 12 months ago. But he's 12lb higher now while Magic City is back on the same mark as when recording the last of three course and distance victories last year. He'll have needed his run in the Spring Cup at Newbury last month and could easily get back on track today. Newstead Abbey wasn't beaten far behind Glen Moss at Haydock last week and a repeat performance will see him thereabouts while Absolutely So can figure if translating his all-weather form to Turf. JACK'S REVENGE was seventh in the Lincoln and that form is working out well. The drop back to 7f might be a problem given he's been placed over 1m2f though he should be flying at the finish so gets a tentative vote.
Joshua Tree is very capable on his day and should be kept on the right side but there's no doubting the high standard set by Irish raider, TRADING LEATHER. After filling the minor placing in the Irish 2000 Guineas last term, he compiled a record of outstanding consistency at the very highest level, hallmarked by success in the Irish Derby. He was subsequently runner-up against his elders in the King George at Ascot and the Juddmonte International before concluding his campaign with a respectable third in the Irish Champion - a superb sequence at Group 1 level. Jim Bolger should have him ready for this reappearance and he's impossible to oppose if sustaining last season's level of excellence. It will be fascinating to see how many of these take to the rise in grade, of which Pether's Moon makes most appeal although a stronger contender could be Penglai Pavilion, a very interesting addition to Godolphin's UK operation.
A splendid renewal for the opening Classic of the season in which KINGMAN is taken to preserve his unbeaten record, although whether he represents acceptable betting value is open to question as he faces a collection of potentially high-class opponents. However, John Gosden has been effusive in praise of his unbeaten colt who is taken to post another Classic success for the Juddmonte operation after a stunning return to action when routing his field in the Greenham Stakes. Ballydoyle unleash two powerful opponents against the market leader with Dewhurst winner War Command and the talking horse of the winter, Australia. The latter only landed a Group 3 after breaking his maiden but his demolition of Dermot Weld's highly regarded Free Eagle was an outstanding effort. He possibly looks more of a Derby horse but a strong effort is expected all the same. Kingston Hill also looks more of an Epsom type but the unbeaten Toormore is a potent first Classic runner for Richard Hannon. Only workmanlike on his successful Craven Stakes reappearance, there'll surely be more to come here and he was very impressive when landing the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh last season.