Although Sir Michael Stoute’s three-year-old has done all his winning at a mile, there is no reason to believe he won’t stay this longer trip standing on his head. Following two fairly low-key successes at Thirsk and Windsor, both on quick ground, Davydenko made no show in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot (good to soft).
Freshened up by a 51-day break, he thumped Good Fortune by more than three lengths at Newmarket returned to a slick surface and there appeared to be plenty left in the tank.
John Gosden’s dual Group 2 winner Enbihaar has to concede 13lb to some very smart three-year-olds but looks up to the task. She has revelled on fast summer ground, mopping up the Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood by five lengths and proving too good in the bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock.
Frankie Dettori steered Dame Malliott to a head victory over Love So Deep in a Group 2 at Deauville last month and Ed Vaughan’s filly may do best of the Classic generation.
This Listed contest will be a welcome return to calmer waters for Equilateral on the back of a couple of no-shows in Group 1 and Group 2 company. Charlie Hills has an embarrassment of riches in the sprinting department and Equilateral boasts an excellent CV at Doncaster, conceding 12lb and handing out an eight lengths thrashing to Foxtrot Lady in a Novice Stakes over course and distance last May.
The four-year-old kicked off the current campaign with a solid third to Invincible Army and Major Jumbo in the Unibet Cammidge Trophy at the Lincoln meeting (11-4 favourite that day) before running Mabs Cross to a neck in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket.
He goes well fresh and returns from a 52-day absence on the fast ground he relishes. Tis Marvellous finished just behind him in the Cammidge Trophy and has been in grand form for Clive Cox. He must go well along with penalised El Astronaute.
Tim Easterby’s gelding finds winning difficult but produced another fine effort in defeat at Ascot last Saturday, leading for a long way before giving way (fourth) behind winner Swindler. The five-year-old ran a respectable ninth in last year’s Portland Handicap off a 99 rating but is 12lb lower.
Fast ground plays to the strength of Dean Ivory’s Yimou, an all-the-way winner at Newbury, Yarmouth and Windsor this summer. Sophie Ralston takes off 5lb and although Yimou tackles slightly stronger opposition, he is clearly in the form of his life.
Savalas, Sparklealot and Hart Stopper, the likely mount of reigning Silk Series dual champion Megan Nicholls, are three of several potential dangers.
Lampang made an eye-catching winning debut for Tim Easterby at Carlisle 15 days ago carrying the very familiar King Power Racing colours. Runner-up Panic Room dotted up by more than three lengths at Haydock last week and Lampang looks a horse with a future. He also held an entry in the ‘Flying Scotsman’ but has been diverted to this festival curtain-raiser.
Godolphin’s Lazuli and the Tom Dascombe-trained Brad The Brief both won on debut, while Misty Grey has plenty of solid form at a good level to make up an interesting contest.
Brought along very cannily by John Gosden, Logician extended his unbeaten sequence to four with a comfortable victory in the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur at York. Frankie Dettori eased the imposing grey to the front over two furlongs out.
Aidan O’Brien probably harbours hopes with second favourite Sir Dragonet. He was sent off favourite for the Investec Derby on the strength of a breath-taking eight lengths victory in the Chester Vase (good to soft) but managed only fifth.
Sir Dragonet returned from a break to run fourth to Joseph O’Brien’s Buckhurst in the Royal Whip at the Curragh but even allowing for the inadequate 1m2f trip, it was still a disappointing effort.
Ben Haslam’s three-year-old faced a tough task on paper when asked to tackle Sir Michael Stoute’s in-form Romola at Newmarket three weeks ago but Sandret only lost out on the nod (pair clear).
That was over a mile and connections must feel reasonably confident Sandret will handle the extra two furlongs here. He split Triple Distilled and Irreverent (both winners since) at York in July and seems best on a sound surface.
This well-established contest over the St Leger trip rarely fails to deliver an exciting finish. Last year Theglasgowwarrior was pipped by Just In Time and Austrian School in a three-way photo and Jim Goldie is again targeting the race.
His gelding has been a bit in-and-out this season and preference is for Sarooq, unbeaten in four starts when encountering good to firm ground. His latest victory came at Newmarket last month when outpointing subsequent winner Themaxwecan and William Buick is likely to retain the mount on Simon Crisford’s five-year-old.
Durston, third to technician in the Group 3 Unibet Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury (soft) last time, edged out Themaxwecan over course and distance in June but has a bit to find at the weights with Saroog on that collateral form line.
In hindsight, pundits got rather too carried away in the wake of Visinari’s explosive debut success at Newmarket in early June, with runner-up Ottoman Court failing at odds-on to land a Newbury maiden last month (third).
Visinari was only caught close home by Royal Lytham and Platinum Star in the Tattersalls July Stakes back at HQ before trailing in the slipstream of brilliant Pinatubo in the Qatar Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
Mark Johnston’s colt languished more than 13 lengths adrift in fifth and the manner of that defeat must have been a disappointment to connections. Johnston has found his colt a less daunting assignment, and this is a golden chance for Visinari to get his career back on track.
Roger Varian has found the ideal race for course and distance winner Willie John and with a dry weather forecast, he should get his favoured fast track. It is probably safe to put a line through Willie John’s last outing in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot when soft ground made life tough but he split a useful pair in Elarqam and Thundering Blue in a Listed contest at Goodwood in May (good to firm).
The four-year-old won a Novice Stakes over course and distance by five lengths last August and wasn’t beaten far by Red Verdon back on Town Moor at the end of March when the 1m 4f trip proved too taxing.
Loxley will be a tough nut to crack if fully wound up after a lengthy absence.