Classic winner Masar shaped with enormous promise on his belated return to action and looks a worthy 5/4 favourite with Ladbrokes to resume winning ways in the 1m 4f Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes during July Festival day 1 at Newmarket on Thursday (15:35).
That run came at Royal Ascot in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes where the Charlie Appleby trained four-year-old finished a 4 3/4 lengths fifth of eight to the progressive Defoe.
Nothing went right for Masar as he stumbled badly when leaving the stalls and almost unseated James Doyle.
The son of New Approach then took a fierce hold and ran far too keenly, before being forced out when making a move rounding the home turn.
Masar then chased the leaders and held every chance two from home, before being unable to find any extra inside the final furlong as those early exertions took their toll.
It was a cracking effort given how the race panned out, especially when you consider it was Masar’s first run in 385 days following his success in last year’s Epsom Derby.
The Godolphin owned colt stayed on strongly that day to beat Dee Ex Bee by 1 1/2 lengths and had subsequent four-time Group 1 winner Roaring Lion a further half-length behind in third.
That form is head and shoulders above anything his five rivals have achieved, so sets a clear standard.
Masar is also the highest rated in the line-up off 119 and hails from an in-form yard who saddled Hawkbill to land the spoils in this in 2017.
There is simply nothing not to like about his chances, so this looks a great opening for him to notch a fifth career-success before stepping back up into Group 1 company.
Mirage Dancer the obvious danger
Given that Mirage Dancer finished just over three lengths in front of Masar when third in the Hardwicke Stakes, he looks the obvious one to take advantage should the favourite fail to live up to expectations.
This Sir Michael Stoute trained five-year-old, who can be backed at 9/4 with BetVictor, is a consistent sort who has won four of his 14 starts and made the frame on five occasions.
The son of Frankel ran well in this 12 months ago when beaten half-a-length by Best Solution, before going on to land a Group 3 at Goodwood in impressive fashion by 3 1/2 lengths from Red Verdon.
Mirage Dancer also looked as good as ever on seasonal reappearance when landing a Listed contest at the same venue and his run in the Hardwicke was a fine effort.
However, he had race fitness on his side that day and no excuses having led going well two from home, before being unable to find any extra inside the last.
This is also a much hotter renewal than last year and it will demand a career-best effort from Mirage Dancer to confirm the Hardwicke form with Masar, who will surely come on a bundle for that outing and is rated 3lb his superior.
Guildsman the July Stakes value
Trainer Archie Watson continues to bang in the winners and Guildsman looks decent value at 7/2 with Betfred to provide him with a big race success in the Group 2 July Stakes for two-year-old colts run over 6f (14:25).
This Qatar Racing owned son of Wootton Bassett was highly touted ahead of his debut in a seven-runner novice contest over 6f at Goodwood and lived up to the hype when getting the job done in runaway style.
After dwelling at the start, Guildsman quickly recovered the lost ground and took close order at halfway under a confident-looking Oisin Murphy.
He then took up the running two from home and stretched clear to win by six lengths from Dark Kris, despite showing distinct signs of greenness.
It was a scintillating performance visually and one which suggested he had a big future.
That view was confirmed when Guildsman ran a blinder when stepped up into Group 2 company and finishing third of 15 to Arizona in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
After showing plenty of pace to race in touch in the centre of the track, Guildsman ran on strongly to be nearest at the finish.
He went down just three-quarters of a length to O’Brien’s highly regarded inmate, who is currently second-favourite in the ante post betting for next year’s 2000 Guineas.
The form of that race sets a clear standard for some promising and unexposed types to aim at, and Guildsman appeals at the type to go on progressing.
With Murphy once again in the saddle, he is thus taken to get the better of market leader Visinari and resume winning ways on July Festival day 1.
Magical Wish looks just the trick in sprint
In the 6f bet365 Handicap (15:00), Magical Wish Wish looks weighted to go well and makes plenty of each-way appeal at the 12/1 on offer with Ladbrokes.
After resuming winnings ways at Lingfield on his second start this season, this Richard Hannon trained three-year-old ran very well in a hot class 2 handicap over 7f at York when a 5 1/2 lengths sixth of 19 to the Space Blues off a mark of his current mark 91.
The winner is an ultra-progressive sort who has since won a Listed race, finished a head runner-up in the Group 2 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot and a fine three-length second to Too Darn Hot in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Deauville.
That gives the form a strong look. Magical Wish went on to finish a fine staying on never nearer 2 1/4 lengths third of 19 to Recon Mission over the 6f trip of this at York, where he had several re-opposing rivals – including the well-fancied Dazzling Dan – in behind.
The son of Heerat also ran well in defeat at Sandown five days ago when finding only Make A Wish a neck too good in a nine-runner affair over 7f.
Well-in at the weights
Magical Wish is clearly right at the top of his game at present and is 6lb well-in at the weights, as he’s due to race off a revised rating of 97 in future assignments.
It makes him look the best handicapped in the 20-runner line-up. Another plus is that he is now reunited with jockey Silvestre De Sousa, who partnered him twice as a juvenile – when winning at Windsor and finishing a neck runner-up at Wolverhampton.
The drop back down to six 6f is also in Magical Wish’s favour as he has won once and been placed three times from five starts over it.
So, with ground conditions ideal, Magical Wish has lots more going for him than his odds would suggest and everything looks in place for a big run.
Magical Wish completes our July Festival day 1 preview despite the quick turnaround from Sandown.