Spanish Mission posted a career-best effort when runner-up last time out, so now stepped up in trip looks worth siding with at 7/1 with Betway to go one better and land the spoils in the 1m 5f Group 3 Bahrain Trophy that gets proceedings underway on the opening day of Newmarket’s July Festival on Thursday (13:50).
That run came in a 1m 3f Listed contest at Goodwood where the David Simcock trained three-year-old outran his odds of 20/1 to go down by just a neck to Private Secretary.
After being held-up in the last trio by Jamie Spencer, the son of Noble Mission made good headway on the inside to track the leaders.
Spanish Mission then looked the most likely winner when produced to take up the running inside the final furlong, but was unable to match the pace of John Gosden’s charge close home.
The front two pulled nicely clear of the third home, and Private Secretary has since run very well to finish fourth to Japan in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.
That gives the form a solid look. It was a fine effort on just a fourth career start for Spanish Mission and one which suggested there was even better to come.
It has earned him an official rating of 103, the second highest in the nine-runner line-up and the same as that of Barbados and Nayef Road.
Spanish Mission has just 5lb to find with the top-rated Eagles By Day and that does not look insurmountable given his unexposed profile.
The extra two furlongs of this contest also promises to suit. So, at the odds on offer. he looks overpriced in what is a wide-open and trappy renewal.
Eagles By Day worth taking on
The Michael Bell trained Eagles By Day heads the Bahrain Trophy betting at 9/4 with BetVictor for this St Leger trial on the back of a cracking run in the aforementioned King Edward VII Stakes.
After being held-up at the rear of the eight-runner field, the son of Derby winner Sea The Stars stayed on strongly up the home straight to press for second close home and be beaten 4 3/4 lengths by Japan.
It was a huge effort, but there are firm reasons to believe that Eagles By Day was suited by the race unfolded. Those that raced up front went off hard and paid the price as a result.
That set things up for closers, so it could be argued that Eagles By Day was flattered to finish so close as he merely passed beaten horses in the closing stages.
If taken at face value, however, it’s form which sets the standard in this and commands the three-year-old the utmost respect.
Prior to that Eagles By Day had bolted up by seven lengths at Salisbury, before finishing a somewhat disappointing eight-length sixth of 10 to subsequent Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck in a Listed contest at Lingfield.
On his day, he is clearly very useful. It remains to be seen, however, if Eagles By Day can back up his hard run run at Royal Ascot, so taking everything into account he looks opposable at that price.
Barbados an interesting contender for O’Brien
All-conquering Irish handler Aidan O’Brien is represented by Barbados, a beautifully bred son of Galileo who has progressed in each of his five starts this season.
After opening his account in the third of those at Navan when slamming Elizabeth way by 5 1/2 lengths, Barbados ran very well in defeat when stepped up into Listed company.
He finished a three-quarters of a length second to the highly-regarded Rakan in the King George V Cup at Leopardstown.
That effort earned him a crack at the Group 2 Queen’s Vase over 1m 6f at Royal Ascot, where Barbados ran the race of his life and was again beaten just three-quarters of a length when chasing home Dashing Willoughby.
He rallied gamely when headed inside the last to go down all guns blazing and had the reopposing Nayef Road half-a-length behind in third.
The front trio also pulled nicely clear of the fourth home and it was a strongly run race, so the form looks solid. That run suggested there were some decent staying prizes to be won with Barbados.
He looks a massive player in this and can be backed at 100/30 with Bethard to give his handler a third Bahrain Trophy winner following the successes of Moon Dragon (1999) and Houses Of Parliament (2016).
Nayef Road another with claims
Given that he finished just a length behind Barbados in the Queen’s Vase, Nayef Road is another that cannot be ruled out.
This son of Galileo hails from the red-hot yard of Middleham-based handler Mark Johnston, who has won two of the last nine Bahrain Trophy renewals.
Nayef Road did best of those that raced up with the pace at Royal Ascot and there was lots to like about the way in which he stuck to the task when headed inside the final furlong to go down fighting.
He appeared to relish the step up in trip, so could well have more to offer as a stayer.
Nayef Road is also a course winner having landed a handicap by five lengths on seasonal reappearance back in may under Silvestre De Sousa who is now back in the saddle.
So, with Johnston operating at a strike rate of just over 28.5 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing, a bold bid looks assured. Nayef Road can be backed at 13/2 with Coral to notch a fourth career success.