The stable’s Power has the profile of last year’s winner, Roderic O’Connor, who flopped badly at Newmarket before bouncing back to win this race.
However, whereas last year’s winner was bred for the trip, Power remains a doubtful stayer at a mile and odds of 9-2 hardly reflect that. Faster ground is a help but he’s opposable at those odds.
French raider Hermival is a puzzle. A literal reading of his form, particularly when third behind Camelot at Newmarket, suggests he’s a major player but I can’t shake the notion that those horses that ran up the far rail in the English Guineas had a distinct advantage.
The one that concerns me in the form of that race is Ptolemaic, who finished third of four in that group.
Seventh overall, he was beaten a shade over six lengths. He was a 250-1 chance on the day but he could have been a hundred times those odds based on what he had previously achieved.
The handicapper felt need to raise him 13lbs for that effort and there was little in his subsequent Dante effort to suggest he was worth that rise.
While Hermival may be good enough today, until educated otherwise I will remain of the opinion that Mikael Delzangles’ horse was a little flattered at Newmarket.
There’s also the obvious concern, regarding the going. The Newmarket race was run on ground with a cut in it, whereas today’s fast going is likely to be against him.
Trumpet Major has won over a mile but I’m not entirely sure about his suitability to the trip. Possibly the best way to limit his claims is to make it a real test. Ballydoyle have the runners to ensure a furious gallop but doing that could prove detrimental to Power’s chances.
Reply has the speed to set the fractions and as he’s the least likely stayer in the race, he’s the one most likely to be asked to do so for Team Ballydoyle.
Jim Bolger believes Parish Hall is good enough to win a Classic and he’s always a man to be respected. But that narrow victory over Power in the Dewhurst doesn’t extend any hope that the he’s superior to today’s rivals. He’s also making his return after more than seven months off and, again, odds of 4-1 make limited appeal.
John Oxx runs two, both with a degree of claim.
Born To Sea was beaten early in the English 2000 Guineas and is surely better than that, but the application of blinkers is a worry and he’s probably one to watch for the moment. His stable-companion Takar, on the other hand, is a progressive sort, and he’ll relish any emphasis put on stamina this afternoon.
He mightn’t have beaten a lot in the Tetrarch Stakes last time but I loved the confidence with which he was ridden and the manner in which he responded.
He was ridden to pick up rapidly in the closing stages and for a horse that should stay further, it was nice to see he was able to do just that.
That suggests to me that this race has been in mind for connections for some time and while this will be his first time running on fast ground, I don’t think it’ll be an issue.
He has the best part of a stone to find with some of these but he looks the progressive type and the Aga Khan’s colt makes considerable each-way appeal at 13-2.