Appleby hoping low draw doesn't spook Ghostwatch in Melrose
Sky Bet Melrose Handicap | 1m6f | 3yo | ITV/RUK
No longer eligible for the Ebor, the three-year-olds have a chance to make their case as future big-race contenders in a highly competitive Melrose.
The race, which has attracted some rapidly improving sorts, has been raised in value to £125,000 this year and that should address some of the draw musings ahead of the day's feature race.
Although there are four fewer runners than in the Ebor, the fact Ghostwatch could overcome a seemingly unfavourable low draw could be informative to the chances of Blakeney Point and Stratum, the two market leaders who have to break from stalls four and two just over an hour later.
Ghostwatch, who is drawn one, cost a fortune as a yearling but, despite progressing steadily in each of his starts, any further improvement will have to be achieved as a gelding.
He underwent the surgery after finishing second at Sandown in July, which trainer Charlie Appleby hopes could be the catalyst to Ghostwatch landing owners Godolphin a second win in the race following Secret Investor 12 months ago.
"Ghostwatch has been progressing but looked a bit wayward on his last couple of runs, so we felt a gelding operation was needed," said Appleby.
"He's done well since – he's been working nicely. We think the trip will be one at which he'll excel over. If he delivers what we've seen at home he can be a player, but his draw isn't ideal."
Johnston doesn't need a Miracle
Three of the last four winning stables are represented, with Mark Johnston and Hughie Morrison saddling two runners each.
Their previous winners, Polarisation and Vent De Force, carried 8st 7lb to victory in a race in which six of the last ten winners have carried 9st or less. Making Miracles and Corgi are not only among the topweights, but contenders to go off favourite.
Johnston's son and assistant Charlie said: "There aren't many boxes Making Miracles doesn't tick. He was very impressive when he won over the distance at Haydock. He got balloted out of the JLT Cup at Newbury and we had to come back two and a half furlongs at Goodwood.
"He didn't disgrace himself but we've always had this race in mind. He has course form at a mile and a half and Silvestre de Sousa in the saddle."
He added about the yard's other runner, Lucky Deal: "He had too much to do and found a lot of trouble in running last time, but was probably the best horse on the day.
"Stamina is his strong point and hopefully he'll get into a better a position in the first part of the race because that was his downfall at Nottingham.
Corgi, who holds a St Leger entry, was one place in front of Making Miracles at Goodwood and Morrison said: "The natural progression is to go from one big-meeting handicap to another. He's had to have progressed otherwise he wouldn't have featured so prominently in his last two races.
"We hope to eke out a bit more improvement over this longer trip."
What they say
Tom Dascombe, trainer of Proschema
He ran really well at Goodwood the other day and he's in good form. I think he's arguably a better horse with a bit of cut in the ground but I don't think we're going to get that.
Andrew Balding, trainer of Berkshire Blue
He did well at Ascot, where nothing went right and he still managed to win. York should suit him and the extra two furlongs won't go amiss.
Ian Williams, trainer of Blue Laureate and Shuhood
Blue Laureate ran a very nice race in the Shergar Cup, looking like he'd stay this sort of trip. The track and ground should suit perfectly. Shuhood is a bit more of a punt in that he hasn't looked an out-and-out stayer. He's learned to settle now and with his rider's 5lb claim, he can't be written off.
Roger Charlton, trainer of Polish
I think he ran very well at Doncaster on his second outing and the form suggests he went forward then. I'm not sure he really handled the track at Goodwood last time and he's crying out for one-mile-six-plus. Hopefully York will suit him better.
Luca Cumani, trainer of Coolongolook
He's taking a step up in trip and class. He should appreciate the longer distance judged on his performances at a mile and a half. He'll like the course but this is much tougher opposition than he's encountered before.
Hughie Morrison, trainer of Candidate
The track should suit, although the ground may be a bit quick for him. He's there on merit.
William Haggas, trainer of Heart Of Grace
Whether she's quite mature enough mentally I don't know, but she's quite interesting as she's doing well physically and I think she wants the trip. The cheekpieces are just to sharpen her up as she races very lazily.
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