Back Light Infantry to relish these calmer waters and gain a deserved win
Hickory is completely unexposed and surely a winner in waiting
Nashwa, the value in Irish cracker
I'm pleasantly surprised that Light Infantry - 6/42.46 on the Betfair Sportsbook - is not much shorter in price, but the Betfair Exchange suggests he may be even bigger at the off, likely because of the impending quick ground.
However, Haydock has had the taps turned on when reflecting on the times on Thursday/Friday, so it shouldn't prove too much of an issue.
David Simcock's runner drops into a Group 3, having contested Group 1 company on eight of his last nine starts in Britain and France, with the other a Group 2 on seasonal return. His recent narrow defeat at Deauville, when tipped in this column at a big price, saw him well supported and denied a clear run at a crucial stage by the smart Inspiral, and a repeat of that form will be easily good enough to land this event.
He was behind Chindit (two lengths) in the Lockinge, but he was caught too far out of his ground and shaped as though he was still being wound up for the season ahead, but his finishing effort there suggested he would have his measure as he proved in the QE2 at Royal Ascot.
This is easily the best opportunity that Light Infantry has had since winning at this level as a two-year-old, and providing he doesn't get caught too far out of his ground (versatile in regards to tactics)- he makes the most appeal.
Sir Busker could prove the biggest danger returning to UK shores, but he is not the force of old and Regal Reality runs well at this level and will enjoy top of the ground.
His current 6/42.46 or bigger is acceptable for a bet, but I feel he may drift, so I couldn't put you off using the BSP.
French Invasion - 12/113.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - has a long way to go to match the level of form shown by Denmark and Naqeeb, but their handicap ratings reflect that, and while their unexposed profiles are tempting, it might be worth chancing the Mark Johnston runner.
French Invasion showed much more when he returned to a sounder surface at Newmarket last time but was all at sea on the undulations there. At the same time, he travelled like a good horse through the race before finding the track unsuitable, and this is the first time he has had a flat track and his preferred fast ground.
He sits at the right end of the handicap for a race of this nature and is layered with stamina in the pedigree, so moving up in distance should really suit. What's more, Joe Fanning may be able to wind this up from the front, and this track can play to front runners.
Unlike York, which offers a long home straight to get going, the sharp bend into the straight here means it can be tough to come from off the pace, and one would think that Naqeeb (stepping up in distance) and Denmark (quirky and needs cover) will be ridden with restraint.
The selection is unexposed, and the time of his second at Newmarket last time suggests he is more than capable off this rating of 82.
The dangers are obvious, but he looks worth chancing with the size and scope to improve.
Back him at 12/113.00 or bigger.
It is a smashing race, but the key piece of form is that of the Moet And Chandon over course and distance and Hickory - currently 5/15.80 on the Betfair Sportsbook - did excellently well to come from off the pace to finish a narrow second behind Baradar.
Baradar wasn't winning out of turn and had some of the best handicapping form of the entire season behind him before pulling out victory there. It was a race which paid to be prominent, with the field only going an even gallop. The selection raced away from the main pace of the race and, although on the favoured side of the track, made up significant ground to finish strong at the line.
He remains the least exposed in this field after just eight starts (finished in the first two on five of those), and his only three efforts on turf on suitable ground with good in the going description see form figures read 122 with climbing RPRS of 81, 93 and 96.
He had caught the eye at Redcar when tapped for toe in a race that turned into a sprint behind a well-handicapped runner in Cruyff Turn, who ran a blinder on the pace next time in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket while the third and fourth are both subsequent winners.
He is improving, and fitting the visor for the first time in the Moet And Chandon had a positive effect.
He arrives with the best recent form in the book, is unexposed, progressive and surely ahead of the handicapper off this rating that is just two pounds higher in a weaker race today. He makes plenty of appeal under Saffie Osbourne from a good draw in stall 14 and is undoubtedly a winner in waiting.
Support will come for a few others, and his current 5/15.80 is the basement mark, but I expect more like 7/17.80 on the BSP.
This is a tricky heat, but previous years tell us it's not always wise to follow those that come out of the Ebor next time, likely because they had been fully wound up for that valuable contest, and this is an afterthought.
The best of those was easily Caius Chorister, while my old pal Post Impressionist will probably find this ground too lively as he did at York.
Aztec Empire has had Solent Gateway a similar distance behind him on three occasions now, so perhaps his form is not as strong as it looks, and Forza Orta never looked a stayer previous to his win at York, so perhaps that is form to be cautious of.
Tritonic - 14/115.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - is far from well-handicapped like most of these in this compressed handicap, but he is unexposed as a stayer, and today he has his ground.
He has only gone beyond 1m5f twice in his life. One was in the Chester Cup on unsuitable soft ground, and the other an excellent two-length second to Ahorsewithnoname at Ascot.
The latter gives him every chance of being involved in this race. His record on good ground on the flat reads 312221, and he stayed 2m4f just fine in the Ascot Stakes, so today's 1m6f should be perfect for him.
Many of these lack a turn of foot where he has winning form over shorter, and that could prove the difference if given a prominent ride.
He is worth chancing in a wide-open race with five places on the Betfair Sportsbook.
I am keen to take on the three-year-olds at the head of the market, and the significantly overpriced one is John And Thady Gosden's Nashwa - 9/25.30 on the Betfair Sportsbook.
She is still firmly on the upgrade and brings the strongest form from the older generation, and it's unlike the Gosden's to turn one out this quick if they don't feel she is flying at home after her excellent Juddmonte runner-up effort.
She has an excellent record on a sound surface with form figures over 1m or ten furlongs reading 21411113. Her defeat in fourth came in Keenland in the Breeders' Cup when far better than the bare result and her third on debut at Newmarket. She is very consistent when given her conditions, and a speedily run ten furlongs here at Leopardstown should be right up her street.
This track has a fairly long 2 1/2 furlong straight, which will give her time to get motoring, and she rates excellent value in this contest, having proven she can mix it with the males at York last time.
I will have a saver on Alflaila, but only at BSP because his price is short enough now he is stepping up in grade for the first time, and he has an excellent record fresh, which hasn't always been replicated the second time out.
Still, I have long been a fan of Alflaila and love how he has progressed, but I won't advise him at 11/26.40. Instead, I will make a small bet at BSP because this market has some moving to do, and you're welcome to follow me in.
Look Out Louis - 14/115.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook - saves his best for Haydock and returns to the race he won last year off a nine pounds lower rating, so it might be worth chancing to bounce back to form.
He had put in a no-show before bouncing back to score at this venue last term, and it could prove to be a good move to switch out the cheek-pieces for the first time visor, considering he won when fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time at Newcastle.
He has never really replicated his best efforts unless racing at Haydock, for which his record is 2-2, and today he is reunited with Barry McHugh.
There is good reason to expect an improved performance, and while this race is stacked full of pace (most of it high), the selection doesn't have to lead and will get a good tow into the race from Copper Knight, drawn by his side.
Anything 8/18.80 plus is acceptable here.