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Nafaqa can fell Elm Park in Royal Lodge Stakes

Nafaqa has form in the book which suggests he is a worthy favourite to get the better of main market rival Elm Park in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket today (2.35).

The Barry Hills trained colt shaped with bags of promise on debut when thrown in at the deep end and finishing fourth in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, and duly got off the mark with the minimum fuss next time up in a maiden at Newbury.

The son of Sir Percy then put in a very taking performance to beat Toocoolforschool by 1/2 a length in a Listed race over 7f at Doncaster.

Nafaqa stayed on strongly after racing keenly in the early stages, and won with a bit more to spare than the winning margin suggests after showing signs of greenness and swerving right close home.

It was an effort which suggested Nafaqa was still a big baby who had plenty more to offer, and the form has been franked in no uncertain manner with the runner-up going on to land the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes by a runaway seven lengths.

A repeat of that run is going to make Nafaq very tough to beat, especially as he is rated 7lbs clear of anything else in the line-up and looks guaranteed to relish the step up to a mile.

The one that does come closest to him on official ratings, and looks the only conceivable danger, is the Andrew Balding trained Elm Park.

The son of Phoenix Reach came good at the second time of asking when scoring in facile fashion in a Newbury maiden and took the step up into Listed company in his stride when landing the Stonehenge Stakes at Salisburuy last time out.

That performance marked Elm Park out as a well above average type, and he is clearly a rapidly improving animal who has a big future.

However, Elm Park’s form does not look as strong as Nafaqa’s in the context of this Group 2 contest and he will do well to lower the colours of the Hamdan Al Maktoum owned colt at this stage of his career.