Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Star quality can Spring surprise

Right track: Underwritten, riden by Martin Harley, on his way to victory in the 32Red Casino Handicap at Lingfield yesterday

Arab Spring might be all the rage for the Princess of Wales's boylesports.com Stakes but it is Sir Michael Stoute's apparent second string Hillstar who is fancied to claim the Newmarket feature today.

All eyes will be on Stoute's Royal Ascot winner, who is the choice of stable jockey Ryan Moore, but Hillstar will certainly want for nothing in the saddle with Frankie Dettori back on board following their recent second in Berkshire.

Admittedly Hillstar proved no match for another Stoute inmate in Telescope in the Hardwicke Stakes, but he may well have been a touch closer than the seven lengths he was beaten had he enjoyed a clear run through a couple of furlongs from home.

While he would not have beaten Telescope, the way Hillstar was staying on at the end suggested that the momentary check on his progress cost him valuable momentum.

Hillstar has not actually got his head in front since winning the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last June, but he has been tried in top company since with his King George third last summer a highly-creditable performance.

The Dubai World Cup really did not play to his strengths on his initial outing of 2014 while the Chester ground was against him when he was surprisingly beaten on the Roodee in May, so you can probably put a line through both of those runs.

Hillstar will have to prove he is back on song at Headquarters but with conditions to suit, he can remind everyone what he can achieve in this Group Two heat.

Mind Of Madness is another Ascot also-ran to pitch up on the July Course and he holds excellent claims in the Portland Place Properties July Stakes.

Well-regarded by connections, he disappointed when well beaten by American raider Hootenanny in the Windsor Castle Stakes on the opening day only to bounce back with an excellent second in the Norfolk later in the week.

He snatched second in the dying strides that day and his style of running combined with his pedigree suggests this switch back up to six furlongs will suit.

Pretzel impressed in winning at Ayr last time and can follow up in Newmarket's Hastings Direct Sir Henry Cecil Stakes.

He already boasted a nice bit of form having chased home Ascot winner Muteela on his seasonal bow at Newmarket in May and he built on that with a four-and-a-half-length verdict in Scotland last month.

An 11lb hike in the ratings means the handicap route is virtually closed for now but this move up to Listed level appears a natural progression for a horse who is full of potential.

SELECTIONS: BATH: 6.00 Outbid, 6.30 Spray Tan, 7.00 Blue Eyed Boy, 7.35 Cricklewood Green, 8.10 Cataria Girl, 8.40 Danz Star, 9.10 Lucky Diva.

DONCASTER: 2.00 Fever Few, 2.30 Big Bear, 3.05 Burnt Sugar, 3.40 Katie Taylor, 4.15 History Book, 4.50 Xinbama, 5.25 Captain Dunne, 5.55 Blazing Desert.

EPSOM: 6.10 Last Minute Lisa, 6.40 Maftool, 7.15 Harry Bosch, 7.50 Ethics Girl, 8.20 Go Sakhee, 8.50 Pucon.

LEOPARDSTOWN: 5.50 King Schultz, 6.20 Reckless Lad, 6.50 Azurite, 7.25 Hellenistic, 8.00 Bayan, 8.30 Blue Ridge Lane, 9.00 Starlet.

NEWMARKET: 1.40 Hartnell, 2.10 Mind Of Madness, 2.40 HILLSTAR (NAP), 3.15 Mange All, 3.50 War Alert, 4.25 Pretzel, 5.30 Go Nani Go.

NOTTINGHAM: 2.20 Scarlet Bounty, 2.55 Nabeel, 3.30 Katawi, 4.05 Khatiba, 4.35 Naivasha, 5.10 Taws.

DOUBLE: Hillstar and Mind Of Madness

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