BEFORE the 15 runners go to post for the first Classic of the UK Flat season, a select field of five will battle it out for Group Two honours in the Jockey Club Stakes (3:00pm).
Pyledriver will be the first one that jumps off the page for many punters given he landed a brace of Group wins last season at odds of 18/1 and 10/1.
You won’t get a fancy price about him this time around at just 9/4 but he has to be respected if building on a fruitful three-year-old campaign.
However, race fitness is not guaranteed having been off the track since October and he could just get caught out by sharper horses on what’s expected to be very quick ground.
One of those is AL ZARAQAAN, who’s third in the betting at 11/4.
William Haggas’ lightly-raced son of Golden Horn couldn’t have been more impressive on his last start at Kempton just a month ago, requiring just a single shake of the reins to put the race to bed.
Admittedly, it was in far lesser company and it’s hard to know just quite how he’ll stack up against these more proven performers, but he looked a class act and could well be another star in the late Sheikh Hamdan’s famous colours.
It looks to be between him and 9/4 joint favourite SIR RON PRIESTLEY, but while you can’t reasonably back both to win, placing those two selections in a Quinella (reverse exacta) with the World Pool at tote.co.uk looks the way to go.
The Quinella consists of nominating two (or more) runners to place first and second in any order and this looks just the race to give it a whirl.
While Al Zaraqaan is the exciting, unexposed angle in the race and could blow the field apart, Sir Ron Priestley is a proven performer who’ll look to see them off from the front.
If things pan out as we want them too, Sir Ron will lead them all a merry dance before holding off, or being nabbed on the line by, Al Zaraqaan, nicely filling our first two places and hopefully resulting in a handsome return.
Thunderous could well be the fly in the ointment if reproducing some of his three-year-old form, but his seasonal reappearance at Sandown was disappointing and I’m happy to leave him alone at this moment in time.
SIR RON PRIESTLY