Pallasator to relish Freer slog
Temperamental Prescott colt can upstage rivals for Oisin Murphy
Romsdal heads the betting for Newbury's Geoffrey Freer Stakes following his game third in the King George VI & QE II Stakes.
For all that it turned out to be a slightly sub-par edition of the prestigious Ascot event, it was the third time in four tries that Romsdal was placed in a Group One. John Gosden's colt was third in the 2014 Derby and second in the St Leger, so he has a touch of class.
He is entitled to be favourite here. The fact that he has never won in eight turf starts is a slight concern, but seven of those outings have come in Group races, so he is competing at a high level.
Still, with just six pounds covering the top six in the rankings in this nine-runner Group Three, you couldn't say that James Doyle's mount inspires confidence. Testing ground could turn this mile-and-six-furlong affair into a real slog, which may suit one or two others better, for all that Romsdal will handle it.
On form and figures, Gospel Choir is one of the more obvious dangers. A close third to Big Orange at Newmarket, Michael Stoute's Galileo six-year-old has been in the form of his life. Again, though, whether he will absolutely thrive in a dour encounter here remains to be seen. The one that might turn out to be something of an unlikely hero is Pallasator. Rated six pounds inferior to the top three - Red Cadeaux being the other - Mark Prescott's son of Motivator is a relatively lightly-raced six-year-old, possibly due to the fact that he has long been a slightly temperamental and fraught individual.
On the track, though, he has been largely progressive, rounding off 2014 with a stellar turn to be third to Forgotten Rules on deep ground at Ascot, which reaffirmed his penchant for laborious conditions.
Pallasator ran the first bad race of his life on his Ascot return in April, but he left that behind to catch the eye when keeping on for fourth behind Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup. The Gold Cup hero Trip To Paris was just in front in third, and Pallasator's effort was all the more meritorious given the way the race unfolded. On a notorious switchback track, he had to weave his way through from midfield, manoeuvring to the inner late on.
For an oversized horse, that wasn't ideal. Today, then, Pallasator will be in his element in the mud at this big galloping track, and odds of 11/2 about Oisin Murphy getting him home in front up the famous long straight are more than fair. The Group Two Hungerford Stakes has cut up a little, which resulted in Cable Bay's odds collapsing from 10/1 to 7/1. Charlie Hills' colt would have been quietly fancied even without the non-runners.
He doesn't have an impressive wins-to-runs ratio (2-15), but he keeps good company, latterly finishing third to Arod at Ascot having also gone close in the Lockinge. With form on soft ground, Cable Bay is overpriced against less precocious rivals.