At this point it looks as though stamina could be at a premium, with doubts about the effectiveness of a number of the leading fancies, including Golden Horn and Elm Park.
With that in mind, there is an opportunity for a guaranteed stayer to grab the race by the scruff of the neck, and Hans Holbein looks the right type to do that, having made all to win the Chester Vase on his most recent outing.
While that was a pretty uncompetitive affair, the son of Montjeu dominated from the outset, quickened up to take control of matters, and stayed on well to beat Storm The Stars, who re-opposes.
That race was on soft ground, which he won’t encounter today, but it proved, beyond doubt, his stamina for the trip.
It also showed him to be a progressive sort and, given his favourable draw, it seems reasonable to expect jockey Seamie Heffernan will take a prominent position once more. That being so, he may prove a tough nut to crack. There may be classier horses in the race, but odds of 16-1 represent good value.
The market indicates Giovanni Canaletto is O’Brien’s leading light candidate but there were negative vibes about him prior to his seasonal debut, in which he finished second behind Curvy.
He stayed on well from way off the pace, and promises to be better for the run. However, the winner - then a 93-rated filly - found a little extra in the closing stages, and may have won a shade more cosily than the winning distance suggests.
Clearly, Giovanni Canaletto needs to improve significantly, but it’s interesting Ryan Moore has chosen him over his stable companions. Perhaps he has a chance, but a recent gamble has seen his odds tumble below the value line.
O’Brien’s apparent third string is Kilimanjaro, who won the Lingfield Derby Trial on his most recent outing. This requires a huge step forward and, likely to be ridden patiently, he may need luck.
John Gosden has the first two in the market, headed by the unbeaten Golden Horn, who won the Dante on his most recent start.
He stayed on well to win that trial but there’s no guarantee he will get the extra two furlongs of this race. He looked to be going well enough at the finish at York, but odds of lees than 2-1 are unappealing while such doubts remain.
Gosden’s other runner, Jack Hobbs, who finished second in the Dante, also has questions to answer regarding the trip. He is a rangy sort with potential for improvement, but he was an 85-rated handicapper two runs ago, and may have had his limitations exposed somewhat at York.
He must step up significantly to reverse form with his stable companion, let alone get the better of other potential improvers. His participation however depends on a course walk by Gosden this morning
Elm Park looks another doubtful stayer and, regardless, has a lot to find with Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs.
The Andrew Balding-trained Racing Post Trophy winner needs a little cut in the ground to be seen to best effect. If the rain arrives it’ll put further emphasis on stamina, which would then take from his chance. Unless he truly stays the trip, there isn’t an ideal scenario for him, and that makes him very hard to fancy.
Success Days has won the two Irish trials, but the small fields and heavy ground leave the form hard to assess. On official ratings Ken Condon’s horse is second only to Golden Horn but whether or not he can reproduce that level on better ground is the concern.
Overall, it’s not a renewal to get too excited about, but the proven stamina of Hans Holbein, the ability he showed on Chester’s tight bends, and the experience he has picked up this year, make him a value bet at double-figure odds.