Philipine Cobra features among Mike Cattermole's fancies as the popular commentator previews day one of the July Festival.
Masar, last year’s Derby winner, tops the bill on day one of the July Festival at Newmarket and is favourite to win the Group Two Princess Of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes.
To be honest, he disappointed me a little with his comeback fifth in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot but connections seemed happy enough, given that it was his first race since winning the Blue Riband just over a year earlier.
The Godolphin colt might have been a bit unfortunate at Ascot as he nearly came down when leaving the stalls awkwardly and took a while to fins his rhythm.
He did well to get himself into contention turning into the straight, before fading as lack of peak fitness told. Defoe went on to win with Czech raider Nagano Gold in second and Mirage Dancer third.
Masar was a high-class three-year-old, make no mistake, and if he is anywhere near that level, he is taken up make up just over the three lengths with Mirage Dancer on that run – but he is no good thing.
If he fails to win this, then the bold decision to keep Masar in training as an older horse will have backfired. It is not often that Derby winners run in this and in fact the last to win both races - in the same season, though - was Airborne, way back in 1946!
Mirage Dancer looks a serious rival again, especially as he is trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who has won the race a record nine times.
Baghdad, winner of the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes, and Dashing Willoughby, who won the Queen’s Vase (on the back of some sparkling homework) are two Royal winners who are hardly here just to make up the numbers.
Barbados and Nayef Road chased home Dashing Willoughby in the Vase – with half a length between them - and they both tackle the opening Bahrain Trophy over a furlong shorter and on much quicker ground this time.
Nayef Road had plenty use made of him at Ascot and if those tactics are repeated here with Silvestre De Sousa in the saddle, the partnership could take some catching. At 7/1 with Sky Bet, he looks decent each-way value. His trainer, Mark Johnston, has won this race twice in the past decade.
Eagles By Day is set to start favourite on the back of his third in the King Edward VII Stakes and is also a player in a tight renewal which should shed some light on the St Leger.
Visinari is trading at odds-on in places for the Group 2 Tattersalls July Stakes on the back of a sparkling debut over this course and distance. Interestingly, Charlie Johnston mooted the idea of running him over seven furlongs soon and yet he stays to the six here.
However, the best form in the race, surely, is offered by Guildsman who was a close third in a decent renewal of the Coventry Stakes at Ascot behind Arizona, who had won his maiden by eight lengths, and Threat, said to be Richard Hannon’s best two-year-old.
Archie Watson’s team of juveniles is flying this term – 29 winners from 115 starters at the time of writing – and Guildsman is at or very near the top of that tree.
The time of his win in soft ground at Goodwood was significant and given that the Coventry was only 11 days afterwards, there looks certain to be a lot more to come. This will also be the first time he has raced on quick ground and that could also lead to more improvement.
This is a race that Aidan O’Brien has won just the once and both of his runners have it to do.
The bet365 Handicap is an extremely difficult affair but Magical Wish makes a swift reappearance after a fine second (clear of the rest) over seven furlongs at Sandown last Saturday and this is his last chance to race off his old mark before going up 6lb.
He had been an excellent third over this trip in a good race at York before that and has to be on the shortlist.
Also returning to this distance is Philipine Cobra who tried five furlongs here last time (just behind Street Parade) and was by no means disgraced. But six looks her trip, she is probably still improving and looks to have decent each-way prospects in a race in which many have chances.
Newmarket Thursday selections:
1.50 NAYEF ROAD, 2.25 GUILDSMAN, 3.00 PHILIPINE COBRA (EW), 3.35 MASAR