Smart Stat: 2 - Sir Michael Stoute's number of winners in past 9 runnings
A competitive renewal of this handicap for older horses, with plenty of unexposed sorts in the field who seem sure to rate higher in the near future, one of those being Crystal King. A half-brother to the high-class Crystal Ocean, he’s bred to be much better than his current mark, and since undergoing a gelding operation last year, he has won both of his starts since. He seems to be firmly on the progressive path now, and just the sort his trainer excels with, there should be even more to come from him in a race Sir Michael Stoute has targeted in the past.
Smart Stat: 5 - John Gosden's number of winners in past 10 runnings
John Gosden has a fantastic record in the Musidora and in the shape of Sparkle Roll he has another leading contender. She didn’t meet expectations on debut (possibly unsuited by soft ground) but she has gone from strength to strength since, winning both of her starts in good fashion, including on her reappearance over this trip under a penalty at Sandown last month. Always in a prominent position, she travelled well until asked to go win her race, shaken up well over a furlong out and soon well in command, for all her head carriage looked slightly awkward. That can be put down to greenness for now and she looks a big player her with further improvement forthcoming.
Smart Stat: 20% - Sir Michael Stoute's strike rate in early season
Karnavaal showed improved form to win his final start over this trip at Chelmsford last season and caught the eye on his recent reappearance over a mile at Newmarket. He had some strong juvenile form to his name, and went through the majority of the race as if ahead of his opening mark, making good headway over two furlongs out and briefly threatening until his six-month absence seemed to tell. The drop back to seven furlongs looks a good move at this stage and, though this looks a typically competitive three-year-old handicap, he seems sure to be in the mix.