STAR-STUDDED CAST FOR KEMPTON QUALIFIER
The latest Fast-Track Qualifier, the British Stallion Studs EBF Hyde Stakes (6.10) at Kempton Park on Wednesday, has attracted a star-studded line up in the quest for a place in the £150,000 Mile Final on Good Friday.
Among the contenders for the Listed feature are reigning All-Weather Mile Champion Oh This Is Us, last year’s Group 1 Queen Anne hero Accidental Agent, 2017 Champion Sprint winner Librisa Breeze and Group 3 Fred Darling heroine Dandhu.
However, this strong renewal could be at the mercy of a new kid on the block, the Roger Varian-trained KHUZAAM.
He looked a class apart when toying with his rivals in a Class 3 handicap over the same mile last month and looks well equipped to make an impact in better company.
This lightly raced son of Kitten’s Joy hasn’t looked back since undergoing wind surgery in the summer, chasing home subsequent dual Listed winner Scentasia on his return from a four-month break before making a mockery of his official mark of 89 at Kempton.
Not surprisingly, the handicapper raised him a whole stone for that victory and he can find the necessary improvement to follow up at the expense of his exalted rivals.
Richard Hannon’s Oh This Is Us dances every dance and, following another fine season on turf, sets a demanding standard off a worthy mark of 110. Under regular partner Tom Marquand, he has less to prove than some of his highly rated rivals and looks certain to get well.
Accidental Agent has had a chequered year since springing that shock at Royal Ascot and didn’t look a natural around the tight turns when a beaten favourite in this race two years ago.
Top rated Librisa Breeze has also seen his fortunes slide since his Champions’ Day triumph and visits a racecourse for only the third time this year. He is proficient at 1m, having won over course and distance earlier in his career, but is another with questions to answer in spite of his lofty rating - a comment that applies to stable mate Flaming Spear, who won this 12 months ago.
Dandhu’s trainer David Elsworth excels in the top All-Weather races but despite her allowance, this three-year-old has an awful lot of improvement to find to justify her mark of 105. She struggled in the Guineas before disappointing again in a fillies’ Listed race at Ascot last month.
Elsworth also runs last season’s Victoria Cup winner Ripp Orf, while Hannon is also double-handed. He steps six-year-old War Glory up in class in his search of an eighth All-Weather win from just 18 starts. War Glory is another with form on this track but whether he can suddenly find more significant improvement at this stage of his life is open to question.
The Stuart Williams-trained Via Serendipity - just a year younger than War Glory - is also stepping into deeper waters at a relatively late stage having been raised 13lb for two All-Weather wins including over this course and distance last time.
He remains unexposed as an All-Weather performer, however, and appeals as the type who might be well equipped to upstage some proven Pattern performers.
MEADE STAYER HAS GOOD FRIDAY PROSPECTS
Martyn Meade introduces a potentially exciting new recruit to the All-Weather Championships when INFRASTRUCTURE lines up in the 32Red Handicap (6.40) at Kempton Park on Wednesday.
The four-year-old promises a bright future over Marathon trips after finishing with purpose on his first attempt at 2m in a valuable York handicap in August.
Before that, he scored in a handicap just short of 1m4f at Chester and steps onto Polytrack for the first time a fresh horse.
There is, of course, a possibility that he may just need this after three months off, but he has run well after a break before and is preferred to essentially exposed opposition.
Victory here would put the son of Raven’s Pass in the frame as a live candidate for the Marathon Fast-Track Qualifiers en route to a possible crack at the Good Friday Final.
Reshoun, a year older and racing off the same mark, has been reliable in staying handicaps on turf this year but doesn’t appear to have a great deal in hand, while course and distance scorer Busy Street remains 2lb above the mark he won off in March with the benefit of a 7lb claim. Mick Appleby’s stable jockey Ali Rawlinson takes over.
6.10 KEMPTON PARK, WEDNESDAY
6.40 KEMPTON PARK, WEDNESDAY