Spring into action at Newmarket
Simon Holt previews Thursday's action at Newmarket and fancies Arab Spring to take a step up in class in his stride.
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Despite being rated a few pounds inferior to some of his rivals, ARAB SPRING looks by far the most progressive horse in the field for the Group Two Princess Of Wales's Boylesports Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday.
Unbeaten in four starts this season, this stoutly bred son of Monsun - a half brother to several good winners and from the family of Hard Top and Conduit - has got better with every race and never looked in any danger when carrying 9st10lb to victory in the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot last time.
Raised 8lb by the official handicapper for that success, Arab Spring now takes on Group company for the first time but looks well up to it against opponents who appear open to less improvement.
Stable-mate Hillstar would probably be the danger on his best form but was thrashed by Telescope (Pether's Moon third, Dandino sixth) in the Hardwicke Stakes last time, and stable jockey Ryan Moore has chosen to ride the selection.
Should either of them win, it would be trainer Sir Michael Stoute's tenth success in this race.
Godolphin are doubly represented by Excellent Result and Cavalryman who both return after a three month absence.
Saeed bin Suroor has a high opinion of Excellent Result, twice a winner at Meydan in the early part of the year before finishing unplaced in the Dubai Sheema Classic. He should be competitive at this level while Cavalryman, a fine servant to the boys in blue, finished third behind Universal in this race 12 months ago.
Now an eight-year-old, Silvestre de Sousa's mount holds his form well and was beaten a neck by Certerach (Seismos tenth) in the Dubai Gold Cup in March. However, a mile and a half is probably sharp enough for him nowadays.
Gatewood has been brought back to form by John Gosden, missing out by half a length here last time following victories at Ascot (beating Pether's Moon) and Goodwood, but faces a stiff task here on official ratings.
Earlier, there is plenty of Royal Ascot form on offer in the Group Two Portland Place Properties July Stakes which has produced a very strong-looking field.
At Ascot, Jungle Cat and Angelic Lord finished third and sixth respectively behind The Wow Signal in the Coventry Stakes while Mind Of Madness and The Great War were second and fifth behind Baitha Alga in the Norfolk.
Meanwhile, Mubtaghaa ran promisingly when third to Hootenanny in the Windsor Castle Stakes.
Not much of this form has been seriously tested yet and there are some promising types in opposition here who won on their debuts, including Belardo, George Bowen and Muhaarar.
However, a colt who really caught my eye first time out was IVAWOOD who was untroubled to beat subsequent winner Magical Memory over five furlongs at Sandown last month.
Well-regarded by trainer Richard Hannon, this strong, deep-girthed son of Zebedee was a knockout in the paddock starting odds-on that day and looks hugely promising with the step up in trip to six furlongs very much in his favour.