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Monday, 16 April 2018

1.50 Newmarket, Wednesday, April 18

In the Weatherbys General Stud Book Handicap (1.50) at Newmarket on Wednesday, Ekhtiyaar is a lightly raced, progressive young sprinter who won twice over 6 furlongs at Newmarket last season, including on good to soft going on the Rowley Mile Course, and appears to have every chance of making a winning reappearance. On the final start of his three-year-old campaign, he could never quite keep tabs on the front-running Nobly Born in a well-contested 0-105 handicap at Ascot, but kept on at one pace to finish fifth of 13, beaten 2¾ lengths. 

That was his first defeat on good, or softer, going, but came after an 85-day break and, at least, demonstrated that his current mark of 100 to prove prohibitive, especially with another winter on his back. He ran well on his seasonal reappearance at Doncaster last April and, although he has to concede weight to all bar two of his 16 rivals, he was being touted as a bona fide contender for the Ayr Gold Cup at one point last season. Fitness is an obvious worry, after another 194-day break, but Ekhtiyaar looks the type to go on to better things in due course and is an exciting prospect.

Selection: Newmarket 1.50 Ekhtiyaar to win

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