The Marsh Cup at Newbury (2.25) attracts our attention today, where PROSCHEMA and COEUR DE LION are prime contenders worth supporting.
The four year old Proschema looks particularly progressive, and following two fine efforts in tough handicaps at York and Newmarket, he ran a blinder in the Northumberland Plate.
That was his first run on the all weather - and his first effort over two miles - and 3 lbs. claimer Jane Elliott had him out with the washing in the early stages from a poor draw in stall 17. Quickening up at just the right time, they had their progress through the field hampered when meeting traffic issues.
Basically King's Advice and himself got in each other's way a bit, and the Tom Dascombe trained Proschema lost vital momentum at a crucial time. Yet it is to his credit that he finished best of all and came home a close up third to Who Dares Wins. And King's Advice gave the form a major boost when landing a heritage handicap at the fiercely competitive Newmarket July Meeting.
Much better drawn here and with regular partner and stable jockey Richard Kingscote back on board, Proschema has a golden opportunity now. He certainly answered any stamina doubts at Newcastle and indeed an extra half furlong here is very much in his favour. Any rain arriving won't bother him at all, indeed his best form early last season was on soft ground and he proved on the all weather that all surfaces come alike to him. The Declaration Of War gelding has more scope for further improvement than most - if not indeed all - of his rivals. He is clearly a major player.
Who Dares Wins and Coeur De Lion represent local trainer Alan King. While KIng is better known for his jump horses he is a very good all rounder and is very much to be feared in these big summer handicaps. The in form Who Dares Wins certainly proved his current well being in style in the Northumberland, but it could pay to side with Coeur De Lion this time.
He was a good third in this race last year despite being denied a clear run when challenging strongly under Martin Harley. He raced off 91 that time and is just 2 lbs. higher now, but in effect he is actually 3 lbs. better in as Thore Hammer Hansen claims 5 lbs. off him. Earlier this season he ran a fine race on softer ground over 2m.2f. at Newbury to finish in front of Who Dares Wins when they completed the placings behind Coeur Blimey. He is a couple of pounds better off with his stablemate this time.
Coeur De Lion then won the Chester Plate and last time out had to take the scenic route when third in the Northumberland Vase. As ever Mark Johnston has a few tough stayers competing and even off top weight Making Miracles commands respect while Franny Norton should get a good tune out of Lucky Deal. The Grand Visir and the bang in form Carnwennan are strong contenders while on best form Jukebox Jive could strike the right note.
But Proschema and Coeur De Lion are the two to back against the field.
1/2 Point Each Way Coeur De Lion (12/1 Boylesports 5 places else 12/1 generally)
1/2 Point Each Way Proschema (11/2 Skybet paying 5 places)
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