At The Races expert Declan Rix returns with his analysis on every runner and a big-race verdict for Saturday’s Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor, live on Sky Sports Racing.
1. Grocer Jack
Trainer: William Haggas Jockey: Tom Marquand
Former German-trained runner who joined the Haggas yard this season. Career-best effort came five weeks ago when bolting up by nine lengths in the Listed Steventon Stakes (10f) at Newbury, very much looking at home on the quick ground off a strong, even-in-parts gallop.
Not as good last time out in the Group Three Rose Of Lancaster Stakes, but slower ground and steadier pace likely against him.
Recent rain looks a negative, but has plenty of form that makes him the correct favourite.
2. Majestic Dawn
T: Paul and Oliver Cole J: Neil Callan
Pretty consistent sort of late, especially when getting his toe in on rain-affected ground.
The recent wet spell around Windsor looks a big plus, as does his front-running style in a race, possibly Grocer Jack aside, lacking pace.
Could maybe have done with going a stronger gallop in his recent French run, but this does at least look an easier contest.
3. Regal Reality
T: Sir Michael Stoute J: Richard Kingscote
Bordering on top class at the peak of his powers, but has been steadily regressive of late and is not a straightforward individual.
Yard are in good form at least, but faster ground likely would have been a bigger help.
4. Royal Champion
T: Roger Varian J: Jack Mitchell
A talking horse going into last year’s three-year-old season, his work at home reportedly exciting. Badly failed to deliver on three efforts on the track, however.
A gelding operation has maybe helped because his form this year has been much better. Impressed with how he hit the line at Epsom when winning a handicap off 97 on Oaks day, but failed to build on that next time out at Haydock.
Has two-and-a-quarter lengths to find on Grocer Jack on that run. Probably capable of better still so not discounted.
T: Andrew Balding J: David Probert
Four-year-old filly who has done nothing but progress in her three seasons racing, also coming here on the back of a career best, winning in impressive style in the Listed Lyric Fillies’ Stakes (10f) at York.
That form puts her bang in the mix, especially as a four-year-old whose profile suggests there could be more to come.
6. Via Sistina
T: Joseph Tuite J: Dane O’Neill
Has not run in 294 days, but has missed two prior engagements this season due to fast ground so fitness may not be a huge concern.
While the case, this is easily the warmest race she has encountered in her short career and is possibly biting off a little bit more than she can chew.
7. Ching Shih
T: David Simcock J: Dougie Costello
Started her season on the Oaks trail, finishing third behind Emily Upjohn in the Musidora Stakes (10f) at York. Did not build on that next time out at Newbury when a huge drifter and has not been seen in 79 days.
Her dam Madame Chiang was very much at home when the mud was flying, but there is nothing in her form to suggest she can win this on what we know so far.
Seven runners go to post on what will be rain-affected ground at Windsor, after 26.6mm of rain on Thursday morning. That maybe makes the favourite Grocer Jack vulnerable given how good he looked at Newbury two starts ago on fast ground.
His keen-going ways also mean I am happy to look elsewhere at the prices despite him being the form horse. The two of most interest are Majestic Dawn and Achelois.
With MAJESTIC DAWN possibly going to get an easy lead and him very much being at home on ground with cut, he just gets the nod ahead of the three-year-old filly.
There is the possibility of the selection and the favourite getting locked into an early battle for the lead, but I’m hoping that does not transpire.