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York Ebor Festival 2015: Melrose Stakes preview (14.35)

Al looked a handicapper to keep on side when bolting up last time out and can defy a rise in the weights to land the 1m 6f Melrose Stakes at York (14.35), on the final day of the Ebor Festival.

The Luca Cumani trained colt shaped with promise in two runs as a juvenile, finishing third at Kempton and a tenderly handled fourth behind subsequent Investec Derby and Coral-Eclipse winner Golden Horn at Nottingham.

Al then shaped as if badly needing the run when finishing well down the field in a 1m maiden at Windsor on seasonal reappearance, but like many from the yard looked the type who was being brought along steadily with handicaps in mind.

The three-year-old duly put in a much improved effort on debut in that sphere when runner-up at Windsor, before taking his form to a new level when spreadeagling a 10-runner field in a 1m 4f contest at Newmarket.

After being held-up at the rear, Al made stealthy headway four from home before surging clear approaching the final furlong to win going away by seven lengths despite hanging left.

It was a most taking performance, and although now 12lb higher in the weights he would not got into this contest without the steep rise.

To me it looks as if Cumani has plotted up Al for the race, and the Newmarket handler has a good record in it having saddled two winners in the last 10 runnings.

Al also remains unexposed and open to further improvement and looks the type who will relish the step up to 1m 6f.

There are plenty of dangers in a wide open affair, and Hernandoshideaway and No Never command plenty of respect.

The former is a progressive sort trained by Michael Dods who after finishing second on his first two starts this season scored in good style last time out over 1m 4f at Pontefract when readily beating Penhill by 1 1/2 lengths.

Hernandoshideaway has been rated 7lb for that success, but a mark of 96 may well under estimate his ability given that he is on an upward curve and has had just four starts.

The extra two furlongs in this should also suit, and the son of Hernando has the perfect profile for the race.

Not Never made a winning return to action when beating Hernandoshideaway by five lengths at Chester, and now meets the runner-up on 7lb better terms.

That suggest the Hugo Palmer trained three-year-old should confirm the form, but Hernando’s didn’t get the clearest of runs and turned the tables when they last met at Newmarket.

Not Never finished fourth and ran flat, and was five lengths behind Hernando’s who came second.

If his handler, who enjoying a tremendous season, can get the son of Notnowcato back to the same form as when winning at Chester then it would be no surprise to see Not Never go close.

Coral’s top tip: Al appears to have been laid out for the race by trainer Cumani and looks cracking each-way value