Haggas looks to improving Cavatina to hunt down handicap success
It is fair to argue that Parfait – last year's winner of Newmarket's Animal Health Trust Handicap (3.05) – had a bit in hand, given he bolted up by seven lengths before finishing fourth in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot and landing the Bunbury Cup.
In the first of two £50,000 handicaps that feature on the opening day of action on the July course this year, it remains to be seen whether a future star lurks among the 11 who line up.
Cavatina got off the mark for the season at Leicester ten days ago and trainer William Haggas is hoping the improvement she's shown so far this season can continue.
"She ran awfully at Chelmsford, better at York and then very well when winning at Leicester," Haggas said of Cheveley Park's homebred.
"Her mother and father both loved top of the ground so I'm hoping she'll enjoy that and that she's got a decent chance in a competitive heat."
An easy winner recently at Beverley, Georgian Manor – who carries the red and purple silks of Robert Ng, carried to victory by Romanised in the Irish 2,000 Guineas – looks open to further improvement for Sir Michael Stoute on what will be only his third start since a gelding operation.
Stormbringer was regarded highly enough to contest the Gimcrack Stakes last August and was far from disgraced in sixth on what proved to be his final start at two.
"He showed improved form at Ascot last time and is going the right way," said Adam Ryan, assistant to his father Kevin. "That's two runs under his belt now this year and he should be bang up there with a shout."
"Yafta is constantly improving and his best run came most recently when winning a strong handicap here last time," said trainer Richard Hannon.
"I feel the step up will suit and could bring further improvement. He's gone up 7lb in the weights for his last run, which will make things slightly more difficult, but he has conditions to suit."
Yafta's owner Hamdan Al Maktoum is represented by another lightly raced improver in the shape of Quloob in the John Sunley Memorial Handicap (3.40).
Owen Burrows has been patient with Quloob, who narrowly missed out on a four-timer at Nottingham last August and is one of six runners with a Northumberland Plate entry.
"There was a race for him after Nottingham but he scoped dirty so we finished him for the year," said Burrows.
"He was back in work early but wasn't really pleasing and has just taken time to come to himself. He's just about there and is ready to start his season. He started last year on 71 and is now off 98 so if he can progress half of that again he's going to be a decent horse."
Mark Johnston usually holds a strong hand in races at around this trip and sends Addicted To You and Soldier In Action in defence of a race he won 12 months ago with Jaameh.
Addicted To You made light of a long absence when cantering to a ten-length success at Chelmsford, while Soldier In Action has begun to slip down the handicap.
"Addicted To You was unbelievably impressive at Chelmsford last time and set such a relentless gallop he had them strung out over most of Essex by the end of it," said assistant trainer Charlie Johnston.
"The Northumberland Plate is firmly in our minds, but this is a fifty grand pot we'd like to pick up on the way if we can."
Johnston added: "Soldier In Action is coming down to a workable mark and will bounce back sooner or later."
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