Dave Smith takes a look at Saturday's ITV7 action and he's hoping Kew Gardens can bring up the final leg.
What a start to the game! Twenty runners and you'd need better darts than Michael van Gerwen to confidently land on the 'double 20' here. If we can get past the first leg then it's a given there'll be a significant number of players to fall by the way side. OPEN WIDE travelled like the winner for a long way out last time and with top Donny jockey Andrea Atzeni taking the ride he's a big contender to get us into leg two untainted. Others of note may be Golden Apollo who had to overcome a tricky draw last time out but has competitive form on ground with a touch of cut underfoot and Frankie ridden Blue de Vega who will appreciate the conditions.
If we couldn't find at least a place previously then don't worry, we'll not be in the minority. We head to Chester for leg two and with the draw bias somewhat negated by the longer trip, it makes it even sweeter that course expert Franny Norton has ALWAYS RESOLUTE berthed in stall one for extra help. A course winner and an animal that has bags of stamina, don't be surprised to see Franny kick on from the front and try to run the legs out of Stormin Tom (a winner at this distance but on more galloping tracks) and Ravenous, who's actually out of the handicap for this one. Night Of Glory may be the one to chase him home with Andrew Balding's record at the track particularly impressive.
Leg three and a Group 2 to get stuck into. Nine runners take their chance and two are course and distance winners. Only 10lb separates these on official ratings so it's tighter than most of Yorkshire... Oh this is us made a successful bid last time out at Chester and does like it here. Back to winning ways last time out, he has Ryan Moore on board here which is an obvious positive. BRETON ROCK loves this race despite his advancing years he's sure to go well again and he's taken to get us safely through. He's the joint highest rated in the race and with doubts about Mustashry's drop back in trip, he's an angle against the favourite.
So, we've made it to leg four... Hopefully we're still alive and kicking after some contests trickier than this author's reading of the card. Sir Chauvelin ran some good races in defeat earlier in the season but he likes to come off the pace and with this track being so tight this might not be run to suit. HOCHFELD is the one chosen to try and get us to leg five. He was only narrowly denied by a very smart type in Duretto at this track last time he ran here (in a Listed contest) and he has the course specialist on his back. Franny will no doubt get the horse bolted out of stall 8 and then into the lead as quickly as possible. Blakeney Point may be the main danger but with the straight eight in we'll take the view that the favourite can be out pointed.
This Group 2 for the colts and geldings pits some high-quality juveniles in against each and none more impressive than Sandown scorer TOO DARN HOT. He was backed as if defeat was out of the question that day and scorched away from the highly progressive Arthur Kitt to land the Solario Stakes by four lengths. That form puts him firmly in the driving seat in this contest and he's taken to burn off the opposition. Dark Vision has been mightily impressive even when getting into a huge spot of bother at Goodwood before blasting home; that has cost him a 3lb penalty and could firmly swing the pendulum in the favour of the favourite and give us a safe passage into the rarefied waters of leg six fighting on.
Draw is all important as we look at leg six in the ITV7 game. A bunch of two-year-olds and a tight track! What could possibly go wrong? Dave Dexter is more than likely already doing the rain dance in his stable as he appears to do his best work (albeit embryonic at this stage) on slower surfaces. He's got a good draw in stall 2 and should be a player. She Can Boogie, Gabrial The Wire and Deputise have all managed to win around here and over this trip but it is IZZER who is taken to score. He's another one that will be hoping he can get his toe in and the forecast rain gives him a live chance. He'll have to be game from stall 6 but i am going to go for a hat-trick of Norton wins.
Are you still with us? If you are it's squeaky-bum time as we head into Britain's oldest Classic with the scent of £50k in our nostrils and the toilet paper in the fridge. The two at the top of the market could be the difference between Duck Tales and our tails between our legs, but it is KEW GARDENS who gets the vote. In true Ballydoyle style the horse had a prep run under a penalty last time out at York and was beaten by Old Persian who he meets again here. He's a hardened Group 1 performer and that just tilts him ahead of Lah Ti Dar. John Gosden's filly was favourite for the Oaks and didn't appear. The enforced break seemed to make no difference and she absolutely bolted up on the Knavesmire. She is certainly a Group 1 performer and it will be a fascinating contest. £50k? What would you spend yours on?