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Notebooks at the ready as unexposed three-year-olds clash in Esher Cup

Simon and Ed Crisford: joint trainers of Ilza'Eem
1 of 1

1.50 Sandown
bet365 Esher Cup Handicap | 1m | 3yo | ITV4/RTV

This is a prime time to open your Racing Post tracker with a view to finding future winners.

The Esher Cup – as well as the London Gold Cup in mid-May – is often one of the most informative early-season three-year-old handicaps of the Flat season and following the form may reward you in spades.

This year's edition is littered with intriguing types who appear ready to make their mark at the next level. Finding a well-handicapped runner isn't the task, it's more about pinpointing the horse far enough forward in their progression to make it count. 

With ante-post fancy Ilza'Eem a non-runner, the eye is drawn to the race-fit Dingle, who finished third at Newbury last weekend. Into the same bracket go Chelmsford fourth Quintillus and Musselburgh winner Naamoos.

All three took a big jump forward on their previous bests according to RPRs, although it's hard to label any as the solid option. Dingle's ability to handle a quick turnaround is taken on trust; Quintillus's tendency to run green last time is a concern and Naamoos may not get an easy time of things up front.

Rifleman is the biggest unknown quantity in the field. He hasn't been seen since bolting up in a good time (1.48sec quicker than division one of the same novice race, which was won by this month's Newmarket handicap winner Bullace) at Kempton in November.

His sole disappointing run came on turf, although it was also his debut, while a mile isn't sure to suit on pedigree. But he represents leading connections and could be the best horse in time.
Race analysis by Tom Collins

What they say

Oliver St Lawrence, racing manager to Nasser Al Khalifa, part-owner of Naamoos
He won nicely on his return at Musselburgh and the plan is to give him some more experience. Hopefully he can make up into a Listed horse in time.

John Gosden, joint trainer of Rifleman
He won nicely on the all-weather at Kempton at the backend and is now back on turf. He’s pleased us at home and this looks a nice starting point. It’s a race we like and I expect he’ll come on for it.

Richard Hannon, trainer of Dingle
We're running him only seven days after he ran a decent third at Newbury, where he may have been a bit unlucky. He shapes as if this mile should suit him. 

Tawaareq (left) winning at Doncaster last September

Richard Hills, assistant racing manager to Shadwell Estate Company, owners of Tawaareq
He didn’t enjoy the soft ground on his last two-year-old start and this ground should be better for him. I think he has a good chance as he’s working well and Sir Michael [Stoute]’s horses are running well.

Alastair Donald, racing manager to King Power Racing, owners of Melody Of Life
The form of his races has worked out well and Andrew [Balding, trainer] believes he has improved a lot, so we're really looking forward to getting him on the turf.

Ian Williams, trainer of Buxted Too
It’s a tough ask but he shaped as if this step up to a mile should play to his strengths when he won at Chelmsford last time. He’s come on a bit since then and hopefully he can get a piece of it.
Reporting by David Milnes

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He won very nicely on his return at Redcar and this looked the obvious target for him
E.W. Terms