Godolphin hope ready to silence O'Brien's War
A full 10 years on from Hawk Wing's record 11-length rout in the JLT Lockinge Stakes, Aidan O'Brien relies on Declaration Of War in the Newbury Group One.
Hawk Wing's breathtaking triumph remains the only victory for the raiders since the race was upgraded to top-level status in 1995, though the renowned Seamus McGrath did send out Bluerullah from his Glencairn stable in south county Dublin to oblige under Bill Williamson in 1967. This year's edition doesn't have the potential flair of a Hawk Wing or last year's sensational winner Frankel, but what it lacks in individual precocity is made up for in depth.
If Declaration Of War, which is joined from Ballydoyle by likely pace-maker Reply, is to prevail, he will have to account for 12 very solid rivals. Joseph O'Brien's mount has made steady progress since arriving from France early in 2012, beaten only on his Irish debut behind Famous Name at the Curragh in September.
The War Front four-year-old's straightforward reappearance win at Leopardstown brought his career tally to five from six, but today's opposition represent a step up on anything he has encountered before. After being heavily backed into as low as 7/4 favouritism earlier in the week, there is little juice in his price any more, especially when there are viable alternatives.
Cityscape and Farhh are the two with the most robust form, after competing admirably in Group Ones throughout 2012. Having won in Dubai, Roger Charlton's Cityscape then turned in fine performances to be placed behind the likes of Excelebration and Wise Dan.
A straight mile here will probably suit him ideally, so it's hard to see him finishing out of the frame. That said, at seven years old, he doesn't have much scope for improvement.
Farhh does. Representing Saeed Bin Suroor's Godolphin yard, the five-year-old won his respective sole starts at two and three, before confirming that he goes especially well fresh by hosing up on his reappearance last year off a mark of 100 at Thirsk.
A horse with well-documented training problems, he stayed sound thereafter, going on to be placed in five successive Group Ones. He was third to So You Think over 10 furlongs in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes, before going on to finish second to Nathaniel, Frankel (twice) and Moonlight Cloud in proper championship events.
For a horse that was having its first proper season racing, Farhh did brilliantly, losing as little as anything ever did in defeat to Frankel over a mile at Goodwood and 10 furlongs at York. His last effort in the Moulin at Longchamp was another cracker, failing by just a head to Moonlight Cloud after making the running under Frankie Dettori.
As such, Farhh boasts by far the best form credentials in this mile contest, and his traditional potency on his seasonal bow is a major positive. Ground and tactically versatile, he represents the value option at up to 9/2 under Silvestre De Sousa.
Earlier on, the Listed Aston Park Stakes over a mile and five furlongs has the makings of an intriguing race, with a number of progressive stayers among the seven runners. John Gosden's Gallipot, successful in three of its last four starts in the autumn, is sure to be popular, but slight preference is for the Ed Dunlop-trained Jehannedarc under Ryan Moore.
Twice a winner for Alain de Royer-Dupre in France, the Montjeu four-year-old filly made a decent impression at Goodwood a fortnight ago, keeping on at one pace for second behind Khione. It was an encouraging display over 12 furlongs that suggested there would be more to come and the return to this extended trip might prompt that little bit extra from her now.
Ger Lyons' Burn The Boats has an each-way chance in the six-furlong handicap, but Burning Blaze appeals more in the Coral Sprint Trophy at Newmarket. On its fourth and final run in its first season last term, Jamie Spencer's mount ran well to be third at York in heavy ground.
Burning Blaze reappears now off a 2lb lower rating; with his handler Kevin Ryan's horses running well, he is fancied to defy double-figure odds on the forecast good ground.
Best Bet: Farhh