Who wins the Betway John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock on Saturday? Watch vital galloping clues plus read Harry Allwood’s verdict on the remaining nine contenders.
The Betway John Of Gaunt Stakes is one of two Group Three races at Haydock on Saturday and nine runners remain in the 7f contest as Sir Dancealot, Tip Two Win and Larchmont Lad have been scratched after a deluge of rain.
The ground is now heavy at the Merseyside venue and that will pose a question mark to several of the contenders.
Here is a guide to all the contenders plus a verdict in what is an intriguing contest.
Trainer: Clive Cox. General odds: 7-1.
Got back on track after a few disappointing runs when successful in the Silver Cup at Ayr in September and ended his campaign with a win in a Group Three at Maisons-Laffitte.
Disappointed on his only start over seven furlongs, but the trip should be within reach as he won over six and a half furlongs as a two-year-old.
Has won three of his four starts on soft and heavy ground, so conditions will suit Clive Cox’s charge who is not without a chance if fully tuned up after a break.
Trainer: David Simcock. General odds: 6-1.
Breton Rock has some strong form next to his name
Useful performer who has won three times at Group Two level and produced a couple of good efforts in defeat last season at the same level, although his losing run stretches back to August 2017.
Finished third in a Listed contest on his seasonal debut at Windsor in May and that run should have blown the cobwebs away.
His record in this race reads 2745 and his trainer, David Simcock, has been operating at a strike rate of 25 per cent in the past fortnight.
Has won a variety of different ground conditions, so will have no problem handling the going, but is vulnerable to an improver.
Trainer: Roger Fell. General odds: 40-1.
Has not always been the most consistent but won two valuable handicaps at Ascot and Newmarket last year and 7f seems his ideal trip.
Struggled to land a blow on his seasonal return over course and distance where he was last off the bridle before shaping as though he needed the run.
Would have a chance on his best form but, although he has won on soft, he has shown his best form on fast ground.
Trainer: Richard Spencer. General odds: 28-1.
Completed a hat-trick of wins on the all-weather this winter when successful at Newcastle in February and ran a respectable race when fifth in a valuable contest over a mile at Lingfield last time out.
Finished second on his only start at Haydock and the step back down to seven furlongs should not post a problem.
However, although he probably has more to give and is worth a try at this level, he is likely to find a few too good.
Trainer: William Haggas. General odds: 10-3.
Our experts analyse Mankib's run behind Safe Voyage
Joined William Haggas at the start of last season and won twice for the Newmarket handler in 2018, including when bolting up in a Listed contest at Newmarket.
Shaped nicely on his seasonal debut at Haydock where he travelled well before his effort petered out and looks certain to come on for the run.
However, the ground is a big question mark for this five-year-old as he disappointed on his only start on soft ground.
There should be more to come from him, though, as he is relatively lightly raced for his age.
Trainer: Ralph Beckett. General odds: 10-1.
Mitchum Swagger finished fifth in a Group Two at Sandown in April
One contender that will certainly handle soft conditions is Mitchum Swagger who has produced some of his best efforts with cut in the ground and finished fourth in this race in 2017.
Has only raced over a mile since 2018, so the drop back to 7f is a slight question mark, although he has won over that trip twice before at a lower level.
Has been soundly beaten on his first two starts this season on quick ground but should be primed for this contest and it would be no surprise if he was involved in the finish, especially if the race is run at a strong pace.
Trainer: John Quinn. General odds: 2-1.
Consistent performer who has won five of his past seven starts, and three of his past four wins have been over course and distance.
Has improved in leaps and bounds since the start of 2018 and made a successful transition out of handicaps when scoring at Listed level last time out, despite suffering interference in running.
Looks capable of making an impact at this level and heavy ground will not be a hinderance for him. Has plenty in his favour and is thriving, so another bold show is on the cards.
Trainer: David O’Meara. General odds: 11-1.
There was not much between Suedois and Sir Dancealot in the Lennox Stakes last year
Has run consistently at Group level since joining this yard and, although he has not tasted victory since winning a Group One at Keeneland in 2017, he looked unlucky not to win the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood last year when just denied by Sir Dancealot.
Was no match for Safe Voyage when fourth behind that rival last time where he was uneasy in the market beforehand and has also drifted in the betting this week, which is a concern.
Versatile ground-wise, and certainly has the ability to win, but will need everything to drop right to get his head in front.
Trainer: Clive Cox. General odds: 40-1.
Successful in a Listed contest at Saint-Cloud last year before she was given a break and, although she disappointed on her seasonal debut, she left that run well behind to finish fourth in a Group Three contest at Lingfield over seven furlongs.
Has run well on soft ground in the past and there is surely more improvement left in her having only had nine starts, but a big step forward is required to make an impact.
HARRY ALLWOOD’S VERDICT:
Ground conditions are likely to play a big part and it is no surprise that Sir Dancealot, Tip Two Win and Larchmont Lad have all been taken out.
Mitchum Swagger will relish soft ground and he can make his presence felt despite the fact he has a bit to find with some of the leading contenders.
However, the rapidly improving SAFE VOYAGE looks the one to be on. He is thriving at present and, although this will require a career best, he clearly relishes this course and distance and any rain will be a bonus for him.
Mankib - who finished second behind Safe Voyage on his seasonal debut - is likely to finish closer to the selection with that run under his belt and should also be involved in the finish provided he handles the conditions.
1. Safe Voyage. 2. Mankib. 3. Mitchum Swagger.