True Self winning at Flemington during the 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival (Credit: Racing Photos)
BY SPORTING LIFE, UK
A cracking and wide-open renewal of this famous old handicap with plenty of quality on show. King's Advice could be interesting as it would be typical of a Mark Johnston runner to rediscover his best form at just the right time. He was a strong fancy for this 12 months ago when 9lb higher but ran a shocker. Willie Mullins’ True Self finished sixth last year when 2lb higher and has again had a light campaign so should be thereabouts but Trueshan would have had a better chance had the ground not dried out.
Fujaira Prince won in a canter over this trip at Royal Ascot but has been hit with a 9lb rise and a high draw may not have helped Pablo Escobarr, who is trying this trip for the first time. Pondus was disappointing at Leopardstown after winning a Listed race at Roscommon but Monica Sheriff could be anything having won her last five starts. Galloping tracks suit Euchen Glen and Jim Goldie’s course winner is one of the more likely outsiders.
What the trainers say:
David Casey (assistant to Willie Mullins) – True Self: “Hopefully she’ll run well. She ran well in the race last year when things didn’t really go her way during the race, and she seems in very good form at home. She ran a good race in the Group One behind Magical, and Cork probably came a bit quick after that.
“We’ve put a tongue-tie on her at home, and it seems to have improved her – she’s been working very well this week. If she brings her A-game, she should run a big race.”
Alan King - Trueshan and Scarlet Dragon: “Trueshan is in good order, and I think the step up in trip will suit him. He was good at Haydock a few weeks ago – we’ve been happy with him since, and I was pleased to see the rain come earlier in the week.
“It’s a very competitive race, obviously. But he’s progressive, and I hope he’ll run well. Scarlet Dragon was tremendous at Royal Ascot, and I thought he ran well at Haydock in ground that would have been much too deep for him.
“I see we’re drawn widest of all – but we’ll slot in behind anyway, so it’s probably not the end of the world for him. He is his own man, so it just depends what sort of mood he’s in. I think a mile and six is within his compass.”
Nicky Henderson – Verdana Blue: “I’m told the forecast is for dry and windy weather and sunshine, which would be great. She ran very well at Ascot. It was probably all that rain they got on the Monday night that caught her out, and maybe the last couple of furlongs as well.
“We’re coming back six furlongs in trip. But she loves two miles on fast ground over hurdles at Kempton, so a mile and six on the Flat should be perfect. If the forecast is right and the ground is good, I’d be hopeful.”
William Haggas Pablo Escobarr & Monica Sheriff: “They’re drawn 41 between them – how’s your luck? It’s a disaster, but there you go, there’s nothing I can do about the draw. They’re both very well.”
Phil Kirby – Stargazer: “It’s a big ask for his first start back, but he seems well and we’ve got to start somewhere. We had planned to go for the Northumberland Plate, but he had a small setback when we were getting him ready, and this was the next natural race for him. I’m sure he’ll improve for the run. We’ll make a start and see where we are.”