MASARU may have let down favourite-backers in the big sales race at York's Ebor meeting but he didn't get a lot of luck and remains an exciting juvenile. He can successfully concede weight to Frankadore, who looks the best of the others with experience following his debut fourth at Haydock. There is a host of interesting newcomers, with Sir Michael Stoute's Australia colt London Eye, a half-brother to an American Grade 1 winner, chief among them.
The penalised pair of Stylehunter and Pivoine are 3lb well-in, while Mountain Angel is due to go up 4lb following his Sandown second, as is Global Giant thanks to his narrow Winter Hill Stakes defeat. MY LORD AND MASTER went close in a couple of Classic trials back in the spring but has been freshened up since a fruitless trip to France, and that break might just give him an edge over his rivals.
DESERT ENCOUNTER took this prize 12 months ago and managed to get his head in front for the first time since in the August Stakes at Windsor most recently. He has been highly tried but always runs his race and is a safer option than Young Rascal, who has been off since finishing seventh in the Derby but looked good when lifting the Chester Vase. Mirage Dancer must concede weight all round thanks to his Group 3 triumph at Glorious Goodwood and he needs quick ground to be seen to best effect.
Shine So Bright ran well when favourite for the Gimcrack, finishing a place ahead of The Irish Rover in third, but he had previously run behind Marie's Diamond when occupying the same position in the Richmond. Marie's Diamond went on to trail home last in the Prix Morny, in which TRUE MASON ran a cracker. Karl Burke's colt was no match for Pretty Pollyana and Signora Cabello but he beat the rest fair and square. Kessaar had Konchek back in fourth when landing the Sirenia Stakes, but will find this tougher.
SIOUX NATION has been largely disappointing this season but he took a step back in the right direction when a close-up third in the Group 1 Flying Five last weekend, and Aidan O'Brien's decision to back him up quickly can pay dividends. Hit The Bid and last year's winner Take Cover make the same swift turnaround after taking fourth and fifth respectively at the Curragh, and they only have half a length to find. Judicial was disappointing in the Nunthorpe, but a progressive sprinter prior to it.
Coup De Gold stumbled badly when poised to make a challenge on his racecourse debut at Sandown so he emerged with a fair amount of credit for keeping on to finish fifth to a useful type of Sir Michael Stoute's. A first-time hood can help his settle more in the early stages, but preference goes to BALLYLEMON. He finished third to Prince Eiji in what looked a decent contest at Ascot, and he can put that experience to good use. Newcomers Solid Stone, a half-brother to the Group 2-placed Field Of Miracles, and Shoot For Gold, a 260,000gns purchase at Tattersalls Book 1, are both of considerable interest, especially the latter with Saeed bin Suroor having a few nice juvenile winners of late.
WHAT A WELCOME has been one of the success stories of the season, having won five of his six starts, and his Ascot success, at a track that potentially didn't see him to best effect, was an excellent performance where he beat the reopposing You're Hired. A return to Newbury, where he is 2-2, can see an even better effort, and he can continue this remarkable run. Now Children returns from a 129-day absence having run well behind Hamada at York, form that has worked out well, while the aforementioned You're Hired is also respected.
The hat-trick seeking LETSBE AVENUE has had a small break since his previous successes here and at Salisbury in July, and Richard Hannon's gelding looks capable of further improvement being just 1lb higher than the latter success. Jackpot Royale is another seeking a hat-trick having won at Thirsk and Salisbury, while Owen Burrows' string are in better form and his Mutafarrid still looks on a fair mark.
MASARU didn't get the chance to show what he could do at York last time but had looked useful when winning on debut and it'll take a decent newcomer to beat him. London Eye makes obvious appeal for the Stoute/Moore combination, while Dargel and Phosphor are other debutants who look the part on paper. Frankadore should build on his Haydock debut and also makes the shortlist.
Always an ultra-competitive handicap. The manner in which STYLEHUNTER surged clear at Goodwood last time marks him down as a horse still very much heading in the right direction and he can defy a penalty with the step back up to 1¼m likely to be in his favour. York winner Pivoine is another who looks sure to make a bold bid. Global Giant completes the shortlist.
MIRAGE DANCER is starting to fulfil his potential now and looks capable of defying a penalty after his comfortable success at this level at Goodwood. Last year's winner Desert Encounter rates the main threat, though Young Rascal remains with potential having found the Derby too much.
TRUE MASON was no match for a couple of high-class fillies in the Prix Morny last time but faces a slightly easier test here and still appears to be on the up, so he gets a tentative vote in a race where several are hard to split. Kessaar is sure to be thereabouts again on the back of winning the Sirenia Stakes and Garrus strikes as a potential big improver up in grade.
EQUILATERAL has yet to cut it at pattern level but he was firmly back on track when dominating his 2 rivals at Leicester 11 days ago and this could well be his trip. Fellow 3-y-o Sioux Nation was back to his best when a close third in a Group 1 at the Curragh on Sunday and is another to consider despite his penalty, along with last year's winner Take Cover.
Plenty of interesting debutants but BALLYLEMON will set the bar pretty high if improving as expected on his debut third at Ascot a fortnight ago in what looked a good race. Things didn't go Coup de Gold's way on debut and he can step up considerably on that form and provide a threat. Shoot For Gold, Solid Stone and Eligible make plenty of paper appeal but the betting will provide more clues.
INFRASTRUCTURE (also entered here on Friday) looked a smart prospect when cruising through to beat a couple of subsequent winners at Salisbury in June so, despite a mildly disappointing run at Goodwood since, he's well worth a chance to get back on the up and overcome the admirable What A Welcome. Temple Church is also one to consider.
A well-up-to-scratch 3-y-o handicap, with MUTAFARRID an appealing option back over 7f given he boasts the potential to be a fair bit better than this grade and also comes into this fresh. Letsbe Avenue's win here in July is strong form and he's an obvious threat, while Jackpot Royale also chases a hat-trick.