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Stirring Ballad Hunt Cup favourite after Dance run left in doubt

Trainer Ed Vaughan and supporters of 2011 runner-up Dance And Dance are facing an anxious wait to discover whether or not the seven-year-old will get a run in this year’s race. He has been left as second reserve and needs two horses to drop out.

One horse guaranteed a run is Prince Of Johanne who defeated Excellent Guest by half a length in this race 12 months ago. The runner-up renews rivalry on Wednesday but is 4lbs worse off at the weights after winning the Victoria Cup over this course in May.

Navajo Chief beat Prince Of Johanne by a length and a half at York last time out and is also 4lbs worse off with the grey. William Haggas is represented by Fury who is weighted to beat Prince Of Johanne on last season’s form and is going to run in blinkers for the first time here.

The new favourite for the race is Andrew Balding’s Stirring Ballad. The four-year-old was a progressive handicapper last season, winning four on the trot culminating in a valuable prize at Chester. The chestnut filly has performed well in listed company this season and the booking of Richard Hughes looks significant.

Trade Commissioner has also been well supported in the market for trainer John Gosden. He was expected to prove better than a handicapper after his victory at Sandown in July but lost his form subsequently. The betting suggests that a big run is expected here.

Educate is another who has been working his way up the handicap and completed a hat-trick when winning the Doncaster Spring Mile. He was well beaten at Newbury but won a three-runner race at Lingfield last time out.

The race is given an international flavour by South African raider David Livingston. He represents Mike de Kock having previously been trained by Aidan O’Brien whilst another relatively unknown quantity is Elusive Time. He has won his last four starts in Scandinavia and is trained by Curragh-based Takashi Kodama.

Frankie Dettori teams up with Jeremy Noseda to ride Burke’s Rock. The filly had Stirring Ballad a length and a half behind her at Goodwood last month and meets the favourite on the same terms.