Jockey Andrea Atzeni flies north today for his debut at Ayr and his only ride of the day is on Nezwaah in the £50,000 Class 1 Listed Tennent’s British Stallion Studs EBF Rothesay Stakes.
The Roger Varian trained four year-old filly holds entries in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh in July and is making his seasonal reappearance today in the one mile two furlong contest. Newmarket-based Varian obviously thinks this Listed affair is the ideal jumping off point for his four-year-old and it will be a surprise if she cannot pick up where she left off last year.
Nezwaah was rated just 73 in February 2016 after winning a Chelmsford maiden, but she made relentless progress to end the year on a perch of 108.
A Listed victory at Newcastle last June proved the high point and inspired her connections to raise their sights to a Group Two event in Deauville last August.
However, Nezwaah was ultimately found out in finishing last of five runners that day. Dropped back to Listed company at Yarmouth, she ran the smart So Mi Dar to a half a length and was probably unlucky to bump into a horse of that calibre. Varian rounded off the year with a shot at Grade One glory in Canada last October and, while she finished seventh, Nezwaah was only beaten two lengths after breaking slowly and paying the price for trying to come from behind.Nezwaah will almost certainly improve for the run, but she is upwards of 3lb clear on the ratings so should still be good enough. Her chief danger would appear to be Maleficent Queen form the Keith Dalgleish yard, who won the inaugural running of the race last year. Another notable runner is Pure Art, trained by Ralph Beckett in Andover and the mount of Fran Berry.
Royal Brave can bring up his hat-trick in the Guinness Handicap. Rebecca Bastiman’s charge has gone up 8lb after winning twice at Musselburgh in recent weeks and although he was perhaps a touch fortunate last time out, he picked up nicely and it would be risky to ignore a horse in such good form.
Jim Goldie will run Tommy G, a winner at the track earlier in the month, while Dalgleish saddles Dark Defender.
The opening race is the EBF Stallion Appletiser Novice Stakes at 2.20 pm which has attracted a field of 11 runners including Mark Johnston’s Noble Manners, second at Beverley earlier in the month.