Sprint Cup winner Twilight Son and Danzeno, the pair who chased home Muhaarar in the British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot last season, clash again here, with very little to separate them on the Timeform ratings. The former is perhaps open to the more improvement and is arguably the more straightforward ride, with Danzeno seemingly needing things to drop right for him.
Sprint Cup third Magical Memory made a successful return in the Group 3 Abernant Stakes at Newmarket last month and will re-opposes some of those who finished behind him there, including Tupi who was second. Magical Memory was included among our Fifty To Follow this year with this race mentioned as an early target (as was the Abernant Stakes) and despite seven of the last 10 winners starting at double-figure odds, the likely favourite could be hard to beat here.
Yorkshire-based trainers Kevin Ryan, Richard Fahey and Tim Easterby have all won the Duke of York before and have runners again this year, with Easterby represented by last year’s runner-up Mattmu. Moviesta was formerly trained in Yorkshire by Bryan Smart but is now with Edward Lynam in Ireland. He was only beaten a length when fourth in the 2014 Nunthorpe and he got off the mark at the fourth time of asking for his new trainer in a six-furlong Group 3 at the Curragh last August. He has been beaten twice since over five furlongs but should fare better now stepped back up in trip
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The Group 3 Musidora Stakes over a mile and a quarter is perhaps an opportunity for a challenger to emerge to Minding, Aidan O’Brien’s current hot favourite for the Oaks. Surprisingly, O’Brien has never won the Musidora, though he seeks to put that right with Best In The World, a sister to her stable’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Found.
John Gosden, on the other hand, has won three of the last five editions and has another likely candidate this year in the unbeaten So Mi Dar who beat the colts in Epsom’s Derby Trial last month, form which has been boosted since courtesy of the placed horses Humphrey Bogart and Viren's Army. So Mi Dar will be bidding to go two places better than her dam Dar Re Mi managed in this race in 2008 (before going on to win three Group 1s), while the same connections’ The Fugue won the Musidora before going on to finish an unlucky third in the Oaks in 2012. So Mi Dar is also one of our Fifty this year, recommended for the Oaks at 33/1.
Also in the Musidora is Fireglow who ended her busy first season with a win in a mile listed race at Newmarket late last October and improved again when four and a half lengths fourth of 16 to Minding in the 1000 Guineas over that same C&D on her return. Mark Johnston’s charge holds strong claims of proving at least as effective over this trip, judged on both her run style and pedigree (half-sister to a two-mile winner), so looks a danger to So Mi Dar.
Godolphin's Promising Run followed her maiden win at Newmarket in August with victory in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes at the same track a month later. She was subsequently disappointing in the Fillies’ Mile at Ascot and failed to match her earlier form in two starts at Meydan over the winter, finishing second in both the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial and the UAE 1000 Guineas itself. She must also carry a 4 lb-penalty here.
G1 - The Bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)
G1 - Aes Champion 4yo Hdle
Grade B - Setanta Sport H'cap Hdle
Grade B - Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe H'cap Chase