Luca Cumani’s Afsare rightfully heads this high-quality field after a six length demolition of some potentially classy types in a Group 3 at Salisbury last time.
Sent off 9/4 favourite – currently 15/8 with Ladbrokes – he was on the bridle when joining the leaders at the two furlong pole before accelerating clear for a mighty impressive win.
Last week’s performance is not the only reason to be confident about the son of Dubawi.
Connections have said they were desperate to race him over a mile, the first time that Afsare had done so since he begun his career, and so despite running creditably over further – including a highly lucrative runner-up finish in the Arlington Million last year – this is clearly what his handler believes is his optimum trip.
In addition, the six-year-old won consecutive races back in 2010 when notching a hat-trick after his debut run at three. There were only a dozen days between those last two successes and so although his handler has said that this comes a bit quick after Salisbury they are not entering completely unchartered waters.
One last note of encouragement comes from Afsare’s record as the jolly. In six starts he has been sent off the market leader and in half of those he has delivered.
On the flip side, this is as competitive a race as Cumani’s charge has faced. Last year’s winner Premier Loco was back in the winners’ enclosure last time and cannot be discounted having successfully followed up victories five times in his well-campaigned career.
The horse just beaten into second last year, Thistle Bird, also requires consideration since returning to form last time at the course when a narrow second in the Group 1 Nassau, although there was more than Sky Lantern in behind who would arguably have beaten him that day with a less hectic passage.
Factor in the highly-rated Trade Storm, who has raced with credit against the very best this season and the highly-consistent Stipulate – not out of the frame in his last five starts – from Lady Cecil’s yard, and the outcome of the race looks ever murkier.
Afsare deserves his place at the market’s summit because of last week’s performance and it’s difficult to envisage, now racing at his most desirable distance, how he will be out of the frame.
Whether he can win such a hot race is another matter though, and with such a positive history of scoring consecutive wins, Premier Loco at 8/1 appeals more from an E/W angle, encouraged by a bare field of eight runners, to defend his crown.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication
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