The each-way players will be out in force to side with Technician in the Ascot Gold Cup, particularly if there is any further softening of the ground to inconvenience odds-on favourite Stradivarius.
The latter is seeking a hat-trick of wins in the Group 1 and John Gosden’s horse had a perfectly satisfactory comeback run in third behind Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup over a mile and a half. The winner is a top-class sort and runner-up Anthony Van Dyck won last year’s Epsom Derby.
In the circumstances, being beaten five lengths was a decent effort for a horse that hasn’t run over that trip since being beaten off a mark of 90 in a Chester handicap in May 2017. He didn’t have a hard race but, as he had a run under his belt in each of the last two seasons, connections were clearly keen not to come here too fresh. His class will make him hard to beat, but Technician looks the type to improve for the step up to this extreme trip and, at four years, has plenty of scope for improvement as a stayer.
Martyn Meade’s horse wasn’t suited by the fast surface when a never-dangerous sixth in the Doncaster Leger but improved when beating one of today’s rivals, Moonlight Spirit, on very soft ground next time. It won’t be that testing today but should be fine for Technician and he can give the favourite a real fright.
Aidan O’Brien’s two juvenile runners were wide of the mark in yesterday’s Windsor Castle Stakes, but with Battleground he can win the listed Chesham Stakes for a record fifth time.
A colt with plenty of scope, he caught the eye finishing fifth behind Lucky Vega on debut and will appreciate the extra furlong of today’s race. Out of Arc winner Found, he will be much sharper this time and can account for first-time-out winner First Prophet.
Meanwhile it may not be the most appealing of cards at Fairyhouse, but Earls has shown enough to be confident of a big run in the Sobac Soil.ie Handicap. Eddie Lynam’s horse showed promise on his first two outings but was unable to quicken over a mile on his third start, and it was a similar case over seven furlongs on his handicap debut, in December at Dundalk.
He makes his return over six furlongs and has a visor fitted for the first time. A mark of 68 looks well within his capabilities and, with Ben Coen taking off three pounds, he makes most appeal on today’s card.
It’s difficult to know exactly where Joseph O’Brien’s horses stand in terms of preparedness for their first runs, but Camelot Rock showed promise on his only start last year and if he has progressed from that outing he should run a big race in the finale, the Irish Stallion Farms EF Maiden.
On debut he finished eighth behind Mogul in a one-mile maiden at The Curragh and, while never involved, there was plenty to like about the way he travelled and stuck to his task in the closing stages without being given a hard time. His sire, Camelot, tends to impart stamina to his progeny and this step up to a mile and a half should show him in a different light. Memorabilis and Taramansour have decent form in the book and are likely to command the lion’s share of the market.