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SHALAA looked to be a potential star last time out, when winning the Group Two July Stakes easily. Steady Pace was a length behind that day and there wouldn’t appear to be much chance of hime reversing the placings this time around.
The bigger threat comes from Log Out Island, who made a fantastic impression on debut and can maybe be excused the Royal Ascot run, however King of Rooks marginally let that form down yesterday. The bigger concern for Log Out Island is his run in Ireland last time out, he just didn’t look good enough and the only excuse you could possibly offer is that it was too soon after Ascot.
Shalaa has the profile of a horse going places and form in the book courtesy of his run last time out, even at 2.50 (6/4) he’s worth a bet here.
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At the start of the week I thought I’d be backing Trip To Paris in this race, having won four of his last five races this year including The Gold Cup at Royal Ascot he brings a strong level of form. However watching The Gold Cup back, he did get some luck with Kingfisher being held in when screaming for a run, if he’d got the run Trip To Paris wouldn’t be carrying a 4lbs penalty here. Another thing that puts me off backing him is that he’s already run six time this year and with a fresher horses in the field, that carry less weight I think he’s beatable.
The horse to oppose his with is ORIENTAL FOX. The Mark Johnston seven year old won the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot by seven lengths, in a time that was relatively quicker than what Trip To Paris won The Gold Cup in, as it was over an extra 1.5 furlongs, plus he was carrying 2lbs more. The second and third home that day finished second and fifth here yesterday. The fourth home was the well-fancied County Hurdle winner from The Cheltenham Festival this year. My feeling is that Oriental Fox would have been very competitive in this years Gold Cup, which was weaker than the one he finished 5th (6th if Estimate is included) last year.
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A very tricky Group Three to work out, in which it’s possible to make a case for every horse. The one that interests me the most however is HIDDEN GOLD. Her best form is on the all-weather, but last year she beat Miss Marjurie a Group Three winner at Goodwood this year, who has form that ties in with Lustrous and Jordan Princess. Hidden Gold also beat Arab Dawn last year, who was a winner at Royal Ascot last month. On her only turf start this year, she ran in the Group Three Sagaro Stakes, she didn’t go the early gallop that day and found herself detached but she finished off her race well and the drop back in trip should suit. At 11.00 (10/1) I feel she provides a decent opportunity based on her back form, which ties in with the more fancied runners.