Give Peace a chance in Middle Park
Matt Brocklebank runs through the contenders for Saturday's Middle Park Stakes and feels Aidan O'Brien could saddle the winner.
Peace Envoy and Ryan Moore are worthy of support in the Middle Park
Blue Point – Charlie Appleby (Sky Bet: 6/5)
Made a huge step forward from winning debut by a narrow margin to storm home at Doncaster and although just held by Mehmas when stepped up to Group company for the first time in the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, he took another big leap in the right direction with a smooth three-length success over Mokarris in the Group Two Gimcrack Stakes at York last time. Travels stylishly and looks an out-and-out sprinter, but move up to Group One level demands a little more of him, while he has no experience of the Rowley Mile track.
Intelligence Cross – Aidan O'Brien (8/1)
One of two runners for trainer Aidan O'Brien who won this event with 25/1 chance Crusade five years ago. This son of War Front will enjoy the fast ground and has been campaigned solely at six furlongs in his career to date. Beaten twice by Mehmas already, including a half-length second on the July Course, but he looked a much-improved performer when running away with a Group Three at the Curragh last month and merits a first shot at a Group One prize. Tongue-tie worn all five starts is retained; Ryan Moore opts for stablemate Peace Envoy.
Koropick – Hugo Palmer (40/1)
Speedily-bred Kodiak colt who blitzed the field when making winning introduction at Thirsk last month but found reopposing The Last Lion four lengths too good in Kempton Group Three since, which leaves him with a mountain to climb on the bare form. Obviously still has time on his side and remains a smart prospect but move up to the top level could prove too much, too soon.
Medicine Jack – Ger Lyons (40/1)
Looked an unlucky loser after meeting trouble in the big sales race at the Curragh a fortnight ago but that wasn't the case when slammed by Caravaggio in the Group One Phoenix Stakes. Had previously beaten Peace Envoy in a Group Two there and his trainer is adamant he still has a lot of maturing to do. Could be the surprise package at a huge price but hard to see him emerging on top nevertheless, and Peace Envoy appears to have progressed more since their last meeting.
Mehmas – Richard Hannon (4/1)
Trainer wouldn't hear of defeat ahead of the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and he duly battled harder than Blue Point to record a neck victory over the reopposing Godolphin runner. Mehmas has been beaten since and Blue Point appears to have improved based on his Gimcrack romp, but seven furlongs probably stretched this son of Acclamation when second to Churchill in the Group One National Stakes and dropping back to six on home territory should be ideal. Very hard to see the July Stakes winner not playing some sort of role in the finish but others may have improved past him by this stage.
Mokarris – Simon Crisford (10/1)
More Than Ready colt whose no-show in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot was put down to the soft ground. Good to see him bounce straight back with an impressive victory in Newbury Listed race and there wasn't much wrong with his second in the Gimcrack last time, though he came up short by three lengths and Blue Point evidently has his measure on that form. A return to genuinely fast ground could see him bridge the gap and his price looks a fair one.
Mubtasim – William Haggas (14/1)
Another to see the back of Blue Point in the Gimcrack at York and a little concerning he appeared to be rather fazed by that Group Two assignment. Reassuring to see him return to winning ways at Doncaster's St Leger Festival but he's back in the big time here and has yet to show the sort of form that's going to be needed to take top spot.
Peace Envoy – Aidan O'Brien (8/1)
Fascinating to see Ryan Moore take the ride as he's also partnered Intelligence Cross three times this season. Has gained plenty of experience but looked an improved colt when beating Psychedelic Funk in Curragh Group three in middle of July and was returning from over a month off when flying home from the back of the field to finish a length behind Lady Aurelia in third in the Prix Morny at Deauville. Had another break subsequently but looks over-priced based on the fact he has Group One form in the book and he looks capable of taking his form to new heights.
Silver Line – Saeed bin Suroor (28/1)
Trainer is emerging from the doldrums having effectively had to draw stumps for the month of August and results are improving. However, this grey son of Dark Angel looks massively up against it on what we've seen of him so far, including a well-held fourth to Mehmas in the July Stakes when last seen. Obviously held in high regard but impossible to fancy. Big opportunity for Danny Tudhope to shine on the biggest stage, taking over from James Doyle in the saddle.
The Last Lion – Mark Jonston (22/1)
Definitely considered one of Mark Johnston's best two-year-olds this year but his major wins have come in Listed and Group Three company. He's honest and versatile and should appreciate the step back up to six furlongs having been denied by Ardad at Doncaster over the minimum trip. Others already seemingly possess more class, though, and his long odds look about right.
Blue Point is bound to prove popular after slamming a decent-looking Gimcrack field and The Last Lion (3rd) and Ardad (7th) have come out and boosted the form by finishing one-two in a five-furlong Group Two at Doncaster. But he's not yet competed at the highest level, while his defeat to Mehmas at Goodwood also highlights the fact he's an excruciatingly skinny price. There are others with equally as much scope to improve and Gimcrack runner-up Mokarris is among them as rattling-fast ground will be right up his street. The Irish challenge also looks strong, with the well-regarded Medicine Jack a potential dark horse. Preference is for Aidan O'Brien's PEACE ENVOY, who caught the eye with the way he finished the race in France last month and he still rates a top prospect.
1. Peace Envoy
2. Blue Point
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