Class act fancied to take spoils
Twelve months after coming up just short against Poet, Class Is Class is fancied to live up to his name in the Betfred Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock today.
The 10-furlong Group Three sees a field of eight set to challenge for the day's feature event, with the market headed by Roger Varian's Hot Prospect.
A handicap winner on the same card in 2010, Hot Prospect was second on his seasonal bow at Newbury.
However, this is a better race, and on a direct line through Distant Memories, Class Is Class should be too good for him.
When Class Is Class finished second here last year, he had Distant Memories six lengths behind in third off level weights; three weeks later, Hot Prospect finished second to the same horse when receiving 8lbs.
Class Is Class also contested that Windsor race, but clearly wasn't anywhere near his best on what would prove to be his last race of a long campaign.
Bearing in mind that Class Is Class is officially rated 4lbs superior to Hot Prospect, which is as low as 7/2, the 9/2 that can be had about the selection looks generous off level weights.
Since the turn of the year, the Michael Stoute-trained five-year-old has run three times.
When he was beaten a head in a Listed race on his reappearance at Goodwood in May, he had two subsequent Listed winners behind in third and fourth.
One of those, Principal Role, went on to be third in the Group One Nassau Stakes last time, so that form is rock solid.
Class Is Class also scored in Listed company when a four-length winner at Sandown in July, before then getting to within two lengths of the three-time Group One victor Twice Over at York.
On that occasion, when partnered for the first time by Paul Hanagan, the Montjeu gelding hit the front far too soon, so it was a fine effort under the circumstances.
Today, Kieren Fallon takes over, and rarely will a rider have been so keen to deliver, given the misfortune that befell Stoute's stable jockey Ryan Moore last week. Rather than Hot Prospect, the main danger to Class Is Class may be Sajjhaa.
The improving Godolphin runner is in form and will relish the trip and the slow ground, though this is her first start outside of fillies' races for a year.
Fallon is also worth an interest in the preceding handicap. The former champion jockey rides Naqshabban for Luca Cumani in this contest and the partnership will be seeking to leave behind a dismal effort at Newmarket in May.
It is an open looking race, but Naqshabban has the potential to outrun her rating of 98.
A ready maiden winner on her racecourse debut last October, she then obliged without too much fuss in a conditions race on her reappearance at Sandown, beating the subsequent 105-rated Group Three winner Joviality into second.
When she next lined out in that Listed Newmarket contest, Naqshabban never rose a gallop, but she clearly wasn't on good terms with herself for whatever reason.
Given that she conceded 9lbs to Jovialty when she beat her, she could be thrown in here off a rating of 98 for just 8st 13lb.
In the fillies' Listed race later on, Fallon partners Submission for Cumani. Successful in a pair of handicaps in recent months, the daughter of Beat Hollow certainly has a chance, but the form of those two wins doesn't look especially strong.
Heavenly Dawn, representing Michael Stoute and William Buick, may be a more solid option.
Three weeks ago, the Pivotal four-year-old ran out a four-length winner of a Newbury handicap off 85, and still appears progressive on just her sixth outing.
Fran Berry and Colm O'Donoghue head for Ascot today to compete in the Shergar Cup. O'Donoghue, in particular, has some smart rides, none more so than Desert Law in the last.
This one has taken time to find its feet as a three-year-old, but remains a horse of some potential based on its resounding triumph at Newmarket last October.
Best Bet : Naqshabban