Good tactical setup for him
Goodwood 14:25: Rocchigiani 1pt win 5/1
Hotline Bling is likely to make the running in this Group 3 and I think Rocchigiani could end up being ideally positioned just behind him while his main rivals are held up.
Rocchigiani was comfortably held on seasonal debut when allowed to drift back through the field having got a very good start but improved significantly next time in the German 2000 Guineas when finishing second to Maljoom.
On that occasion the good early position wasn't given away and he made the running. He was driven a few lengths clear with two furlongs to go but couldn't hold off the late challenge of Maljoom while finishing five lengths clear of the rest.
They decided to drop Rocchigiani back to seven furlongs for the Jersey last time and he looked to lack the necessary speed for that trip. Having tracked the leader on the near side, he was driven along 2½ furlongs out and could never challenge the leaders but ran on well inside the final furlong to finish fifth.
The step back up to a mile will suit and I think the likely tactical scenario will see him more favourably positioned than his main rivals. Bayside Boy and Checkandchallenge will almost certainly be held up and, while Berkshire Shadow can race handier, I expect Rochigianni will be ahead of him early on (and it was worrying how badly Berkshire Shadow hung under pressure last time).
It might be that Hotline Bling will go a ridiculous pace up front which will take away that tactical edge, and Rocchigiani does have to prove he can handle a track like this, but I think he should be closer to the front trio in the market and any 9/2 or bigger appeals.
Return to shorter trip to suit
Goodwood 14:25: Sonny Liston 0.5pt win 25/1
At a bigger price in the same race, I think Sonny Liston's chance has been a little overlooked now that he's back down to a more suitable trip.
He was an impressive winner on debut at Sandown but didn't make it to the track again as a two-year-old.
He returned in the Fielden Stakes and ran as though in need of the run, dropping away late on. He built on that in the Dee Stakes next time when stepped up to 1m2½f. It appeared the initial plan was to go forward but he couldn't get in and ended up being taken to the back of the field instead.
He didn't handle the bends too well and was checked turning the final bend before making his challenge on the outside. He briefly moved into a share of second late on but couldn't sustain the effort and finished third.
They ran Sonny Liston in the Derby last time but that level and distance was beyond him and he struggled accordingly.
I think the run at Chester shows that he must have a very high level of ability to manage to get that close despite the track not suiting at all and I think he could be suited by the step back to a mile. He didn't look short of speed on debut last year, nor when asked for his effort at Chester, and he might be another looking to track Hotline Bling early on.
It might be that he isn't quite up to Group level or he could end up being a bit tripless but I think he's a bit overpriced given the potential for improvement and any 20/1 or bigger appeals.
Application of blinkers can bring a return to form
Galway 18:35: National Ballet 0.5pt win 25/1
National Ballet was well beaten on his first start for new connections last time but I think he could be capable of bouncing back this evening down in trip and with blinkers on for the first time.
He won on handicap debut for Aidan O'Brien last year and was then sent off favourite for a handicap over this distance at last year's Festival. However, he wasn't travelling from some way out and could never get into a position to challenge but stayed on late to take fourth.
They stepped him up to 2m for the Irish Cesarewitch next time but again he didn't travel with much zest and could never get competitive.
He was subsequently bought privately and after 275 days off the track, made him first start for Jessie Harrington at Killarney over 2m1f. He raced quite handily on the inside and was in contention turning into the home straight but weakened quickly two furlongs out and finished a well beaten ninth.
I think National Ballet doesn't want that far but that he wasn't travelling and then staying on late over 1m4f created that impression. I'm expecting the return to a shorter trip to suit and the application of blinkers for the first time will hopefully result in him travelling much better through the race rather than coming under pressure with half a mile to go.
It might be that he's just not as good as he was or that the blinkers will have no impact but given their potential to cause improvement I think he's a little overpriced and any 20/1 or bigger appeals.