Qassem arrived here from Andre Fabre with the intention of him acting as lead horse for Galileo Gold, but while he did his racing at up to a mile in France, he's bred for further, and his work since arriving here has been that of a middle-distance performer.
He needs to get his toe in, and his main aim last year was the November Handicap with the expectation of a well-run race on soft ground, but we had the misfortune to find the going unseasonably fast. As a result he starts the season still unexposed at this sort of trip, and the change in the weather has come at just the right time. He's fairly drawn in stall four.
Winner of a mile maiden at Newcastle that has thrown up three next-time-out winners, Vintage Folly steps up markedly in class to contest the Musidora. She has an official mark of just 76, but that's just a function of her having won an all-weather maiden in November rather than an absolute statement about her ability. To put that in perspective, Architecture was rated 82 after two runs when finishing second in the Lingfield Oaks Trial last year, and went on to fill the same spot at Epsom. If I had a colt with a similar rating after one run, I'd be looking at handicap options, but you have to have a different perspective with a well-bred filly in the same scenario.
She was quite immature last year, but has done very well through the winter, and the aim is to get some black type. To that end, a small-field classic trial like this can be a more lucrative option that a competitive listed race, and as a daughter of Makfi out of a Montjeu mare, I believe that both the ground and trip will suit - in fact, the more rain we have the better, as most of Makfi's best progeny handle the mud well, and John Gosden has suggested that hot favourite Shutter Speed could swerve the race if the going becomes very testing, which would greatly aid our cause.
We tried Mazyoun over a mile at Musselburgh on his reappearance to see if he'd stay, but while he ran very well, he seemed to find it stretching him, and then he ran another solid race back over six at Newmarket where he was keeping on again, and he's certainly worth a try over seven furlongs on the evidence of those runs.
Just about his best effort as a juvenile came over six-and-a-half in the Weatherby's Sales race at Doncaster on good ground, and while he's yet to race on anything softer, he's very closely related to Hooray, who won the Cheveley Park on easy ground, and it was bottomless when his sire Mayson landed the July Cup. I'd like him to find some cover behind the leaders, so I'm happy enough with his draw in three, for all there's a possibility the field will come wide in the straight.