JOHN OXX sends Alanza across the Irish Sea for a fourth time in six starts when the smart Aga Khan-owned filly tackles this afternoon's Hungerford Stakes at Newbury.
Successful on her first cross-channel venture in the Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster in September, the daughter of Dubai Destination subsequently found life more difficult in two Group One forays at Newmarket.
In July's Falmouth, she never threatened over a mile on soft ground, and the drop back to seven furlongs now will suit.
From three tries at the trip, Alanza has yet to be beaten, though she won't have encountered the same level of opposition in any of those three runs as she will in this Group Two.
Moreover, there is a chance that the going at Newbury could ride on the slow side, and that wouldn't suit Niall McCullagh's mount in this better company.
Strong Suit heads the market, having laboured in heavy conditions when dropped to six furlongs in the July Cup. He had previously posted a lifeless effort behind Frankel on his seasonal bow at Ascot and, similar to Alanza, has a potent record at this trip, his only defeat in four runs over it coming behind Frankel in last year's Greenham.
At his best, Strong Suit would take plenty of stopping but his last three runs suggest that his best days might be behind him. The one with ticks in all the right boxes is Soul.
Representing the in-form Godolphin partnership of Saeed Bin Suroor and Frankie Dettori, the five-year-old Australian import appears to be something of a late bloomer.
On its first start for Bin Suroor at Meydan in March, Soul recorded a valuable handicap coup from Mick Halford's Invincible Ash, and has since displayed considerable progression in three starts in England.
On the penultimate of those at Royal Ascot, he was beaten by just a length and a quarter when a cracking fourth to Black Caviar, before then posting a commanding win at Newbury.
Over six furlongs on heavy ground on that occasion, Soul only exerted his authority inside the distance, but pulled clear by four lengths in the end.
That suggested that he might do better still over further, and it's worth noting that he won a decent Listed race on his only previous try at seven furlongs on his final outing Down Under. Undoubtedly, this is another step up for Soul, but he is on an upward curve.
In the Group Three Geoffrey Freer, Mount Athos will be a popular order to add to his two emphatic handicap triumphs since joining Luca Cumani. While he has plenty going for him, he is another that will need quick conditions to be seen at his best.
On the day that the Premier League returns, the Michael Owen-owned Brown Panther looks a more solid alternative. Last year's St Leger runner-up handles a cut well, running out a ready winner of a fair Listed race on soft at Pontefract in June.
Since then, he lost little in defeat when beaten four lengths behind Danedream, Nathaniel and St Nicholas Abbey in the King George, and he would probably have finished closer still had he been ridden slightly less aggressively.
Nonetheless, it was a cracking effort, one that should be good enough if he can reproduce it now.
In the concluding ladies riders' handicap, Ron Hodges and Serena Brotherton are the partnership to keep on side with The Quarterjack, while Our Jonathan gets the nod to defy top-weight in the day's showpiece handicap, the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon.
A classy sprinter that enjoys a dig, the Kevin Ryan-trained five-year-old finished second to Pepper Lane in what was a good renewal of this six-furlong contest last year.
Successful in style off 105 subsequently, Our Jonathan has now dropped back to 108 from a career-high of 114. With Stephen Craine up and a favourable stands' side draw, he is value at up to 12/1 to atone for a luckless recent defeat at Chester.
Best Bet: Brown Panther