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Bahrain Trophy preview

Kicking off the July Festival is a tricky little race for staying 3yos, the Bahrain Trophy. With the task of previewing the opening race is Dan Briden, @DanBriden. Read more of his work at SBBColumns.

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Bahrain Trophy preview

The Group 3 Bahrain Trophy is probably the first recognised trial for the St Leger in September, and this year’s renewal brings together a couple of promising maiden winners against a sextet of more proven rivals, albeit one or two arrive here with a bit to prove – notable winners during the past decade include Youmzain, Kite Wood, Masked Marvel and Shantaram.

The John Gosden-trained Feel Like Dancing looked a smart prospect when landing an 11f maiden at Newbury’s Greenham in good style, overcoming obvious signs of inexperience to get up close home for hand riding in the main to see off Boite by a nose. However, he finished last of four behind Ruler Of The World in the Chester Vase next time, and seemed to lack for pace when fifth of six behind Maputo in a 10f handicap here next time. His latest effort was far more encouraging, appearing to improve for the step up to 2m and the fitting of cheekpieces when chasing home Leading Light in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot last month, coming with a good looking challenge over a furlong out but finding his effort flattening out close home. He didn’t appear to see things out fully over the two miles, but he still posted a career best and offered far more than he had on his previous two outings; this drop back in distance will help and ought to go close as he bids to give connections back-to-back wins in this race following Shantaram’s victory 12 months ago.

The Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained Boite attempted to make all when collared in the final stride by Feel Like Dancing in an 11f maiden at Newbury in April (second run), and he duly went one better when landing a 10f maiden at Pontefract a week and a half later (fact the smart Remote finished a soundly-beaten third shouldn’t be taken literally). He failed to make much of an impact in the Italian Derby next time, but bounced back with a better effort in defeat when third in the Queen’s Vase, challenging down the outer along with eventual runner-up Feel Like Dancing but unable to sustain his effort under pressure inside the final furlong. He has been beaten by Feel Like Dancing on both occasions the pair have met, and it is hard to see why this colt will reverse the form with that rival on the third occasion; step back in distance ought to help but not difficult to see him finding one or two too good for him here.

Andrew Balding’s Havana Beat won a decent 1m maiden at Sandown on the second of his two outings as a juvenile, and he returned with a solid effort in defeat when third behind Windhoek in a valuable sales contest (10f) at Newmarket’s Craven meeting back in April. He finished one place ahead of the re-opposing Feel Like Dancing in the Chester Vase next time, and his latest effort saw him finish fifth of eight behind Hillstar in the King Edward at Royal Ascot, outpaced once the tempo lifted over two furlongs out and merely plugging on thereafter (beaten 9 lengths). His limitations have seemingly been exposed at this sort of level, but he is worth a try over this extra furlong given he has been battling on at the business end of his races over a mile and a half the last twice; still no surprise to see him find one too good, though.

The David Simcock-trained Ray Ward is a nicely bred son of Galileo who stepped up on his debut ninth at Kempton to land a 10f maiden at Lingfield back in January, and he returned to that venue to land a 10f handicap on grass in May when readily accounting for Of Course Darling. He could only manage fifth behind High Troja in a steadily-run affair at Newbury before chasing home Ennistown in a 12f handicap at Haydock, and his latest effort saw him finish a staying on fifth behind Leading Light in the Queen’s Vase. He was set plenty to do on that occasion, still going well at the top of the straight but last and caught behind runners, switched and keeping on relentlessly to the line; capable of better than he showed there and not to be underestimated, for all improvement will be needed to actually land this prize based on his overall level of form.

David Elsworth’s Dashing Star is a sizable son of Teofilo who improved with each run at two, culminating in victory in a 1m maiden at Nottingham, but he was far too keen when fifth in a 10f handicap at Sandown on his return in April before being outclassed in the Dante at York next time. He got his act together and came from a long way back to land a well-contested 12f handicap at Musselburgh last month (good time), but he turned in a laboured effort when coming home in 11th behind three of these in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot a few weeks later. There is no doubt that this colt is a talented sort on his day, but he has his quirks (hood fitted for all seven starts so far) and has turned in some poor efforts this term; clearly more needed here, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the booking of Ryan Moore could persuade this colt to show his very best form.

The Brian Meehan-trained Testudo is a nicely bred son of Duke Of Marmalade who was noted as making eyecatching late progress into sixth behind Remote and Dare To Achieve on debut at Newbury, and he duly showed the benefit for that experience when landing a 10f maiden at Sandown last month, leading approaching the final furlong and staying on well to score by a neck from Ducab. For all the runner-up has won since, the remainder in behind haven’t done a great deal for the form, but this colt ran free early and did well to see things out; upped in trip and grade here and has a fair bit of ground to make up on Dare To Achieve (some 10 lengths), but interesting connections are willing to sacrifice a handicap mark of 88.

The selection, trained by William Haggas, is a well-bred son of Galileo who shaped promisingly over an inadequate trip on his sole outing at two (7f, Newmarket), and he duly built on that promise when chasing home subsequent impressive handicap/Group 3 winner Remote in a 10f maiden at Newbury in May, lacking the winner’s fitness/speed when it mattered most. He went one better when contesting a small-field 12f maiden at Pontefract last month, sent off the 1/4 favourite and justifying those odds with a very easy win, keen enough early but travelling well in behind the leaders on the approach to the straight, soon coming clear under minimal effort to come home 6 lengths clear of Astorgs Galaxy. This represents a steep rise in class for this son of Galileo, but he looks a high-class prospect on the evidence of his two runs so far this term, chasing home a class act before winning easily next time; can take this en route to something like the Great Voltigeur as he bids to confirm himself a St Leger candidate.

Verdict - DARE TO ACHIEVE

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