Racing: Promotion ready to step up for Stoute

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The Independent Online

There are reasons to be fearful on the day of the John Smith's Cup at York this afternoon, most notably wardrobe monsters and a high draw for the 45th running of the mad dash across the Knavesmire.

There are reasons to be fearful on the day of the John Smith's Cup at York this afternoon, most notably wardrobe monsters and a high draw for the 45th running of the mad dash across the Knavesmire.

Like most valuable handicaps, it takes a good horse to win this £140,000, probably one which has the capacity to make its mark in pattern company. The 1973 victor Peleid went on to win the St Leger, while, nine years later, Buzzards Bay was successful before a follow-up in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

Yet ability is nothing without an advantageous stalls position. This 10-furlong plus journey means there is a left-hand turn into a short straight, a bend to be negotiated while the stalls superstructure is still shuddering. Every winner in the last decade has been drawn towards the inside, and the shining fact appears to be that ground cannot be forfeited in this inevitably tight handicap.

This is a huge rock to throw at the ante-post favourite, Red Fort, who is officially 8lb well in at the weights after a storming success in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot, but has to emerge from the No16 box.

There is, in addition, fire to go with the frying pan, as Michael Jarvis, Red Fort's trainer, believes the easy going is also unlikely to be in his four-year-old's favour.

"I would not want too much more rain. He has won on soft, but we would prefer it a little bit quicker," the Newmarket trainer said yesterday. "The horse is fine. He has done a nice piece of work since Ascot. He's drawn 16 which is not ideal, but there's nothing we can do now so we will just have to see what happens." There are no such stalls problems for George Margarson's Polar Jem, whose whistlestop tour around the nation has resulted in victories at Ripon, Kempton, Sandown and Newmarket thus far this season. The Newmarket-based filly will emerge from the No3 box.

"She's been very, very well in herself since her last run. I'm very pleased with her and this has been one of the main targets for her," Margarson said yesterday. "I'm over the moon with the draw, it will suit her, but I wouldn't want to see any more rain. I'd be happy with the way the ground is at the moment, but we just wouldn't want it to get much softer.

"Although she's by Polar Falcon out of a mare who won on the soft, she's always shown a liking for good ground or faster. I think it will be the same as when she won at Sandown."

While Polar Jem's domino form is most persuasive, it could all come crashing down now that she encounters the most formidable field of her life.

"It's a big step up but she still could have a bit more to come. She's been winning with a bit in hand and once these fillies start improving they just seem to carry on and on," Margarson added. "Although it's a move up, there's only one John Smith's Cup, it's a big prize and we will have to see how much of an extra ask it will be for her. I think she will give a good account of herself."

Polar Jem has each-way prospects but the one for the highest station is Promotion (nap 3.50), whose single-figure draw is just one of the qualifications under his arm. The other scrolls include his connections (Michael Stoute and Kieren Fallon) and his Ascot form with Red Fort. Promotion is 9lb better off for the eight lengths he was beaten that day, and will be most suited by the easing in the terrain.

The other consideration at York is Mamcazma (4.25), who was second in this race last year to Hugs Dancer and is now on a lower mark, while Ascot's most valuable race looks within the compass of Double Obsession (2.30), another which had dropped down the weights like an anvil off a window ledge until victorious in the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting.

The outstanding bet in Berkshire is the colt with quite outstanding form. Salselon (next best 2.00) was last time set an awesome task by Darryll Holland - whose double yesterday took him within touching distance of Kieren Fallon in the jockeys' championship - but still managed to chase up Refuse To Bend and Soviet Song in the Queen Anne Stakes. There may be better recent form than that, but it does not occur in this solar system.

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