Smarkets Betting Exchange Rose of Lancaster Stakes (Group 3) | 1m21/2f | 3yo+ | ITV4/RUK
Frankel is favourite to sire the winner of the 1m2½f test for the second year running as Elwazir heads the market to follow the exploits of the Mark Johnston-trained Frankuus a year ago.
The omens are good as his owner Hamdan Al Maktoum has enjoyed some notable success in the race, winning it with stars like Nayef in 2001, while his latest success was with Intilaaq three years ago.
This time around, retained jockey Jim Crowley dons the famous blue and white aboard Elwazir, who could yet justify the 500,000gns connections paid for him at Tattersalls two years ago.
After a long winter break, Owen Burrows reintroduced the three-year-old to score in a novice contest at Sandown in June, form that now reads very well as the runner-up was the recent Gordon Stakes winner Cross Counter.
Although he was getting a stone off the second that day, Elwazir went on to post a similarly progressive performance in a handicap at Ascot last time, when accounting for Extra Elusive by a length and three-quarters.
Burrows said: "I don't think Elwazir deserves to be as short a price as he is but he is a progressive horse who has pleased us in his two wins this season.
"He has a big frame to fill and he'll make a lovely horse next year. He shouldn't mind the ground if they get some rain as he ran on soft last year."
Burrows' old boss Sir Michael Stoute could provide the chief opposition in the shape of the free-going Zaaki, who has been mixing it in some good company this summer
Not surprisingly Stoute has won this before, most recently with Class Is Class in 2011, and Zaaki has solid credentials after some decent homework on the Al Bahathri Polytrack in Newmarket of late.
The son of Leroidesanimaux had some smart form as a youngster for Mohamed Moubarak and showed that was no fluke when finishing an excellent third in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He was then just touched off by Communique – a rival again – in a valuable handicap at the July meeting and is now 12lb better off with that rival.
There are three senior runners in the contest but the three-year-olds have dominated this in recent years and the Mark Johnston-trained Communique looks sure to be thereabouts despite being worse off at the weights with Zaaki.
Johnston will become the most successful trainer in the contest if the son of Casamento can pull it off following the victories of Frankuus, Jukebox Jury (2009) and Mister Monet (2004).
Following his narrow success at Newmarket, Communique landed a £47,000 handicap at Goodwood in impressive fashion off a 5lb higher mark, looking ripe for this step up in class.
Johnston said: "Communique is making a big jump up from handicap into Group company and will have to up his game but he could well do that. He has a bit to find with a few of these on the book but is a progressive type."
Fajjaj is well to the fore on ratings in the seven-runner contest off a mark of 109 but not so in the betting, something that surprises his trainer Hugo Palmer.
The Al Shaqab-owned colt was put up 4lb to his current mark after finishing third behind the classy Emotionless in a Listed contest at Newbury last time.
Palmer said: "Fajjaj is a big price at 8-1 on his rating and the cheekpieces helped sharpen him up. It's a competitive race but he deserves to take his chance."
The field is completed by the senior trio of Brorocco, Teodoro and Gabriel.
Andrew Balding, trainer of Brorocco, said: "He ran a good race last time and if they get some rain it will suit him."
Richard Fahey, trainer of Gabriel, said: "He doesn’t win many races but always runs well.
"He’s an absolute star of a horse and would appreciate any rain. It would be wonderful to see him get his head in front again."