Cityscape ready to scale heights
So You Think's absence from the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown today strips some of the gloss from the Group One, but it remains an interesting betting race.
Indeed, even before the Ballydoyle star's retirement on Thursday, there had been plenty of money floating around to take him on, with Farhh and Nathaniel two that had attracted real support.
Having been as big as 9/2 earlier in the week, Farhh's price has now halved, So You Think's retirement leaving him a clear 9/4 favourite. Lightly raced, Godolphin's four-year-old had won his sole starts in 2010, 2011 and 2012 prior to the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He lined out there on the back of a handicap win off a mark of 100 at Thirsk and ended up making a lasting impression, flying home menacingly for third behind So You Think after a tardy start.
While this afternoon's 10-furlong feature might well prove a fine opportunity for him to confirm that promise, question marks linger over the actual merit of the Ascot race.
For a horse that has yet to do it at this level, he doesn't appeal at such short odds, while Sheikh Mohammed's Dubai Gold Cup hero Monterosso is not the most reliable.
Twice Over, successful in 2010, is potentially underestimated at up to 16/1, having got bogged down in heavy going here in a Group Three last time.
Although he should outrun those odds, especially if the ground stays on the good side, the possibility of some of the widespread tropical downpours in England hitting the track is a concern.
A similar comment applies to last year's King George hero Nathaniel, with John Gosden suggesting that he could be pulled out if the going gets too testing for his seasonal reappearance.
The one to keep on side, then, may be Cityscape at up to 6/1.
Ground versatile, Roger Charlton's six-year-old posted his first Group One triumph in the Dubai Duty Free at Meydan. Stepping up to nine furlongs for a first time there, he stormed home by five lengths, beating City Style, which reopposes now, into third.
At Ascot last time, City Style finished a similar distance behind So You Think, paying Cityscape's form a fair compliment in the process.
Wigmore Hall, fourth in Meydan, likewise ran similarly behind So You Think, while the fifth home, Xtension, had enhanced the form by landing a Group One over a mile at Sha Tin in May.
Cityscape also ran in the Sha Tin race, but he suffered a nightmare passage before being eased by James Doyle. Now, over a trip that might bring about further improvement and with Charlton and his excellent young rider in potent form, the Khalid Abdullah-owned runner is fancied to prove his Meydan win was no fluke.
Another that looks worth a speculative foray at the Esher venue is Gosden's Thimaar in the Listed Marathon.
There are a few in this two-miler that possess higher ratings than the selection, not least Godolphin's Cavalryman, but none so unexposed.
Three times a winner in his last five starts, Thimaar obliged for a second time over this extended trip on his reappearance on the all-weather at Kempton. On his only outing since back at Kempton, he was a fine third behind Colour Vision and Red Cadeaux, two classy performers that both did plenty for the form at Royal Ascot.
Up at Haydock, it is surely of note that Johnny Murtagh is on duty for just one ride.
The reigning Irish champion jockey partners Testosterone in the Lancashire Oaks for Ed Dunlop, having steered the Dansili filly on her tame seasonal bow at Royal Ascot.
Should Testosterone leave that behind now, her form on soft ground in France last year would suggest that she could have a big say in this Group Two.
Another filly worth considering at the Liverpool track is Quiz Mistress in the Old Newton Cup.
Hughie Morrison's charge is stepping up in class, but relishes a cut, was impressive at Salisbury last time and has no weight on her back.
Best Bet: Thimaar