Breeders' Cup star Big Evs given 'ideal starting point' as Mick Appleby eyes more major prizes

Combine Big Evs's cramped odds and a field of seven for this Listed prize and you might infer that he has scared away the opposition. Yet this is a typical field size for the race, which lands at the same time as some genuine Commonwealth Cup trials.

Big Evs is in the Commonwealth Cup. He is more likely to run over five furlongs at Royal Ascot, in the King Charles III Stakes (formerly the King's Stand). The reason he is so short today is that few of his rivals are so much as entered in the Group 1 sprints at Ascot. Those who are can be backed at fancy prices.

Kylian is something of an exception and an obvious alternative to the favourite. He went off joint-favourite with Big Evs in the Molecomb last August but was beaten a length and a half in third. He has left Karl Burke, which in most cases would be a bad career move. The switch to Archie Watson, especially given his record with sprinters he inherits, is curious rather than worrying.

Unbreak My Heart, whose one good piece of form behind Fast Responder in the Cornwallis looks shaky, is next in the betting. Then comes turf debutant Sommelier. If their profiles are unconvincing, you might think the rest can be discarded.

There is one exception. Dark Vintage is unusual in that he has joined Richard Fahey after a two-year-old season in America. His form there was useful and on his British debut he shaped with promise off top weight in a hot handicap at Sandown. He has a fast, British turf pedigree (Fast Responder is his dam's half-brother) and is now fitted with a visor after his spin at Sandown. 

This race has been a wellspring of good sprinters, with recent winners like Profitable, Garrus and Winter Power. Big Evs is by far the easiest to imagine developing into a similarly smart type, but the prices those horses returned (14-1, 3-1 and 5-1) are a reminder that the fastest three-year-olds are not always obvious from two-year-old form.
Analysis by Keith Melrose

'This looked the ideal race for Big Evs down in grade'

Breeders' Cup winner Big Evs will make his seasonal reappearance in calmer waters before embarking on a campaign that could include stepping up to six furlongs at Royal Ascot next month.

The popular sprinter won four times last season over the minimum trip and rounded off his campaign in great style at Santa Anita following victories at Royal Ascot and in the Molecomb and Flying Childers Stakes.

Big Evs: Breeders' Cup winner makes his reappearance in the Westow Stakes
Big Evs: winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf SprintCredit: Sean M. Haffey

"It'll be good to get him back," said trainer Mick Appleby. "I've not seen a huge difference from two to three. He's grown a little bit but not a vast amount, just filled out more. This looked the ideal race for him down in grade. There's some good horses in there but hopefully he's got the class to get the job done and then we'll hopefully go to Royal Ascot from there.

"He's in the King Charles III Stakes and Commonwealth Cup but is more likely to run in the former. We do want to try him over six furlongs at some point this year but I don't know whether it'll be at Royal Ascot – it's a nice headache to have. He's been a star for us and hopefully he can keep progressing this season."

What they say

Archie Watson, trainer of Kylian
I've been happy with Kylian at home and this has been the plan all winter. It's his first run for us and we're still getting to know him, but this looks like a nice place to start off.

Adam Ryan, assistant to Kevin Ryan, trainer of Mon Na Slieve
He made a winning debut at York last year and was probably a shade unlucky for the remainder of the season. The ground went against him. This will be a big test but it's a good starting point.

Marco Botti, trainer of Sommelier
We were a bit disappointed at Newcastle last time when a couple of things didn't pan out for him. He showed plenty of speed and we're keen to drop him back in trip. The opposition is strong and we're hoping the ground doesn't get too soft for him.

Karl Burke, trainer of Sports Coach
It looks a tough race but you can put a line through his last run at Sandown as nothing went right for him. He's all about speed and York should suit. The tongue-tie will help. He's worn that at home and worked very well in it.

Clive Cox, trainer of Unbreak My Heart
She finished off the season well last year at Newmarket. We were then drawn out of it at Bath on her seasonal reappearance on softer ground than she would have liked. I'm hopeful conditions will be more suitable here.
Reporting by Jonathan Harding

Read our Thursday previews:

2.45 York: 'He should have a great chance' - trainer quotes and analysis to solve the 20-runner Hambleton puzzle 

3.15 York: 'She's absolutely bouncing' - who is a threat to Free Wind and Bluestocking in the Middleton? 

3.45 York: Charlie Appleby 'on weather watch' as he hopes rain comes for leading Derby hope Ancient Wisdom in the Dante 

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Keith MelroseBetting editor