DENIS COAKLEY is enjoying a fine season and the Berkshire-based trainer looks to keep up the good work with stable stalwart Gabriel's Lad in the Bet365 Criterion Stakes at Newmarket today.
The £65,000 seven-furlong event has attracted five previous Group winners and two others that have already succeeded at Listed level plus last season's Ayr Gold Cup winner, Highland Colori.
Gabriel's Lad arrives on the back of a career-best effort in the Victoria Cup at Ascot, where he defied top weight in some style.
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Coakley, whose only previous Group Three success came seven years ago, landed another prestigious handicap with Miss Marjurie at Epsom on Derby day and is within £3,000 of breaking his personal best prize-money haul with six months of the season still remaining.
"Gabriel's Lad seems in good order and has been working well," Coakley said. "Hopefully he is up to this step up in class and he certainly should give a good account of himself. He is a course and distance winner on good to firm ground, although he does need a good pace to run at.
"If we get some rain that would be in his favour too, though it might suit Top Notch Tonto even better, as he is a very good horse on soft ground. Gabriel's Lad clicked with George Baker at Ascot and I can't see why they won't click again. It would be great to have another Group winner."
Highland Colori invariably goes well at Newmarket, winning twice on the July course and once on the Rowley Mile. Andrew Balding's charge has acquitted himself well since stepping out of handicaps, and two outings this season have hinted at better to come.
Balding said: "He's in great form. He's got good course form there, so I hope he runs a decent race."
Penitent, Garswood and Gregorian have already tasted victory in Group Two contests, while Indignant, a last-time-out Listed scorer, will be bidding to give the Richard Hannon stable a fourth consecutive win in the race.
The latter steps up in class having beaten stablemate Professor in the Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury.
Hannon said: "She is equally effective over six and seven furlongs, and Pat Dobbs rode a lovely waiting race from the front when they beat Professor for a Listed prize at Salisbury last time. The runner-up ran a stormer with a big weight in the Wokingham, so Indignant deserves a crack at the big boys."
Tawhid is smart on his day, winning the Listed Dubai Duty Free Cup at Newbury last season.
Saeed bin Suroor's runner has been seen just once this term, when seventh to Penitent in the Timeform Jury Stakes at Haydock.
He is ridden for the first time by Harry Bentley, who has a fine strike-rate for the Godolphin trainer.
Bentley said: "I've ridden 10 winners from 33 rides for Saeed bin Suroor and hopefully that good record can continue with Tawhid. Tawhid has won at this level before - when taking the Horris Hill as a two-year-old - and won a Listed race at the end of last season, so is clearly capable of winning."