All the runners in the AR Legal Fillies’ Handicap (4.20) at Newmarket on Wednesday have question marks over them, for one reason or another, but the one who has fewest, perhaps, is course and distance winner Highland Pass. The daughter of Passing Glance steps into 0-100 handicap company for the first time, but a 4lb rise in the weights for her 1½-length defeat of Amandine in a small 0-95 contest over course and distance last month looks entirely fair.
The runner-up, although perhaps not the most resolute filly in training, had previously only been headed close home when beaten three-quarters of a length in a similar race to this one at Ascot on her previous outing, so it would be no surprise if Highland Pass proved equal to this slight rise in class. She took half a dozen starts to find her form this season, but has officially improved 13lb since opening her account for the campaign, in a lowly 0-65 affair at Salisbury, in August and may still be improving. A collateral form line involving Sayem, trained by Ed Walker, suggests that Crotchet just has the edge on these terms but, unlike Highland Pass, Richard Fahey’s filly will find the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket an entirely different test from Musselburgh, where she’s been doing her winning of late.
It rarely pays to be dogmatic about the outcome of a horse race, but now that I see the case for Highland Pass written down in black-and-white the stronger it becomes. In a race full of if, buts and maybes, she clearly holds an outstanding chance and it’ll be disappointing if she doesn’t go very close, at least, to bring home the proverbial bacon.
Selection: Newmarket 4.20 Highland Pass to win 5/1