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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Can Havana Grey buck three-year-old trend for Burke?

Havana Grey: can he beat his elders?
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2.20 Newmarket
Longholes Palace House Stakes | Group 3 | 5f | 3yo+ | ITV/RUK

No three-year-old has won this famous speed test since Amour Propre in 2009, but Havana Grey looks to hold solid claims of bucking that trend.

A smart juvenile last year, whose four victories from eight starts included the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes, Havana Grey had his form boosted on Wednesday when the horse he beat snugly at Glorious Goodwood, Invincible Army, comfortably landed the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes at Ascot.

Havana Grey also finished runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville and brings strong form to the table. If he has trained on, he could prove hard to beat.

Trainer Karl Burke said: “Havana Grey is in great form. He’s fit enough to do himself justice, but will come on for it.

“He’s a high-class performer taking on his elders for the first time. The race will tell us a lot about him.”

Can Mabs Cross atone for Bath defeat?

Having started off in Class 4 handicaps last summer after her maiden success at the third time of asking, Mabs Cross progressed significantly to win a Listed event at Musselburgh.

She began her 2018 campaign on the back of just six outings, and narrowly failed to make a winning reappearance when denied by a neck in a Listed contest at Bath.

Mabs Cross: looking to get back in the winner's enclosure

The thoroughly likeable daughter of Dutch Art was by no means knocked about in the closing stages after failing to enjoy the run of the race, and went into many notebooks as a surefire next-time-out winner in similar grade.

Her trainer Michael Dods, who has proved a dab hand with sprinters, said: “She was unlucky at Bath. She jumped into her stride a bit slow. I’m sure she’ll run a good race.”

Can Alpha show up for Smart?

Seven-year-old Alpha Delphini ran better than his finishing position of eighth suggests behind Marsha in this contest 12 months ago.

He went on to finish third in Group 2 company and enjoyed a lucrative end to his campaign with victories in small-field sprints at Beverley and Musselburgh.

Alpha Delphini (right): finished eighth behind Marsha last year

Alpha Delphini’s trainer Bryan Smart boasts a fine Palace House record, having landed the Group 3 with Captain Gerrard (2008) and Tangerine Trees (2008), and said: “The horse is in good nick. He ran well first time out this season when the ground was very heavy. The better ground will suit and I’m very happy with him.”

What they say

Robert Cowell, trainer of Encore D’Or and Jumira Bridge
Encore D’Or finally got off the mark on grass in the Scarbrough Stakes at Doncaster last September. He’s in great form and is a decent horse. My one minor concern is the undulating track at Newmarket, but he goes there fit, healthy and well. Jumira Bridge is a horse I’ve got a lot of time for. I’m sure he’ll run a big race.

Rae Guest, trainer of Mirza
He seems in great form. He’s got better as he’s got older. The ground is expected to dry out and he likes it fast and if he runs up to his best, he should be thereabouts. He may be 11 now but is better than he was five years ago.

David Griffiths, trainer of Ornate
It’s his first run for us. He has course-and-distance form and did an outstanding piece of work two weeks ago. It’s a bit of a learning curve for us but he goes there with a live chance. The only slight negative is that he hasn’t quite come in his coat.

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He’s a high-class performer taking on his elders for the first time. The race will tell us a lot about him
E.W. Terms
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