Timeform preview Saturday's Group 3 John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock Park, and pick out their best bet...
"...it is worth noting that he has scored on both occasions that he has been dropped to this grade in the past."
Timeform on Dutch Connection
This year's renewal of the John of Gaunt Stakes is an open one, as it is set to provide a mix of unexposed four-year-olds and more battle-hardened campaigners in the field.
It is one of the more unexposed runners in the field, Emmaus, who heads the betting at the moment. The four-year-old has made just four starts to date, winning on all three of his trips to Leicester, with the only blot on his record coming in a listed contest at Deauville in 2016.
Roger Varian has had to show patience with the colt, but he has shown plenty of promise when he has made the track, looking every inch the Group performer in the making when scoring in a handicap on his sole start as a three-year-old last October. He progressed further to take a listed contest on reappearance in April, dispatching of a race-fit Donjuan Triumphant, and he is likely to make a bold bid with more improvement expected here.
The Charlie Appleby-trained D'Bai is another four-year-old to note, though he has far more experience under his belt with 16 starts to date. He has long promised plenty, and enjoyed a productive trip to Dubai over the winter, having ended last season in disappointing fashion. However, he put in a career-best effort to finish second in a listed contest over six furlongs at Windsor last month, and it will be interesting to see how he fares now returned to this trip.
Winning course form is somewhat surprisingly at a premium in this, something which the straightforward and consistent Tabarrak brings to the table, having taken a listed race over C&D in good style last month. He generally runs his race, and looks a Group winner in waiting on the back of that performance. He's well worth a return to this company, having held his form well on his sole try at this level last season, when finishing a close second in the Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury last August.
However, it is Dutch Connection who is the most interesting prospect in this year's renewal. The six-year-old has been almost exclusively campaigned at Group 1 and 2 level over the past three seasons, and it is worth noting that he has scored on both occasions that he has been dropped to this grade in the past. His fine effort to finish fourth on reappearance in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in April shows that he retains all of his ability, and he appeals as the class act dropped back in grade and returned to seven furlongs.
In summary, it looks worth siding with experience over potential and Dutch Connection, who is a fascinating contender dropped to Group 3 level, is fancied to have too much for the improving pair of Emmaus and Tabarrak.