The progressive Apparate looks cracking value at 11/1 with BetVictor to land the valuable 1m 4f Old Rowley Cup at Newmarket on Friday (16:10).
This Roger Varian trained three-year-old has shown improved form in five starts this season, winning twice and posting some solid efforts in defeat.
The son of Dubawi opened his account third time up when holding on gamely to beat Harrovian, a winner since, by half-a-length in a 10-runner maiden at this venue.
Apparate then ran very well on handicap debut at Salisbury when a keeping on 1 1/4 lengths third to Desert Icon off a rating of 83, before finding only Dubai Tradition a head too strong when second here off 2lb higher.
He got up put up another 4lb for that, but it was not enough to stop him resuming winning ways last time out at Ascot when landing the Lavazza Stakes Heritage Handicap in game fashion.
After being held-up in mid-division, Apparate made headway to chase the leaders two from home.
He was then ridden to take things up at the furlong marker and dug deep to fend off persistent challenger Persian Moon by a short-head.
The runner-up is a smart sort rated 99 who had previously been placed in a Group 3 and several Listed contests – so that again gives the form a strong look.
It suggests that a 4lb rise for Apparate, who got 10lb that day, to 93 may well be on the lenient side.
Varian’s stable is on a 21 per cent strike rate in the last fortnight at the time of writing too.
He looks a potential pattern performer in the making, so at the odds on offer Apparate had to be the main selection in this Old Rowley Cup preview.
First In Line feared most under Frankie
Top weight First In Line failed to live up to expectations last time out, but if bouncing back looks a big player under Frankie Dettori.
This three-year-old hails from the in-form yard of John Gosden and carries the famous black and white halved colours of owner Anthony Oppenheimer made famous by Cracksman and Golden Horn.
First In Line has had just five outings, shaping with promise on debut at Nottingham when a 1 3/4 lengths runner-up to Dubai Instinct after being slowly away.
He then opened his account in taking style at Lingfield when beating the aforementioned Harrovian by half-a-length.
The son New Approach then followed-up in facile fashion in a novice stakes contest at Newbury when making all to beat Wise Ruler, a winner next time-up, by six lengths.
He was allotted an opening mark of 96 on the back of that very taking success, and ran a blinder of it when beaten just three-quarters of a length by Hamish in the valuable Melrose Handicap at York’s Ebor Festival meeting.
The third home Land Of Oz has won twice since, whilst the fifth home Just Hubert has also gone on to taste success.
It gives the form a solid look in relation to the Old Rowley Cup, and suggests First In Line should be up to winning races off his current rating of 100. He also remains unexposed and open to further improvement.
So, with Gosden operating at a strike rate of 20 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing, First In Line rates the main danger to Apparate and can be backed at 6/1 with Betfred.
Kiefer a lively Old Rowley Cup outsider
In a race where a case can be made for plenty of the 19 runners, the Eve Johnson Houghton trained Kiefer makes most appeal from an each-way betting perspective.
This son of Pour Moi finished behind First In Line when seventh in the aforementioned Melrose Handicap, but was well-fancied that day and had previously shown improved form in each of his six outings.
Kiefer opened his account at the fourth time of asking when swooping late to beat Alhaazm in a decent 1m 3f handicap at Newbury.
He backed that up with a cracking run from 1lb out of the weights when a neck second to Desert Icon over 1m 4f at Sandown, where he finished strongly from well-off the pace to be gaining all the way to the line.
As Kiefer was arguably given too much to do, it’s an effort that can be upgraded. There was a similar story next time up at Ascot when he finished a 2 3/4 lengths third to Western Duke off a mark of 88.
Regular pilot Charles Bishop, who is once again in the saddle, dropped Kiefer in and seemed undecided as to which route to take when trying to mount a challenge.
That resulted in him encountering all sorts of trouble in-running three from home when trapped behind a wall of horses.
When eventually seeing daylight it was all too late, but – to his credit – Keifer did keep on strongly in the closing stages without being given an unduly hard time.
Those efforts command him plenty of respect in this, especially as he has been dropped 1lb to a mark of 87 since his below part effort in the Melrose.
That’s why, at 25/1 with William Hill, Kiefer gets our each-way vote for the Old Rowley Cup.