Excitement and anticipation have dominated the build up to this Saturday’s Group 1 Swan – Duke Of York Cup, the fourth and final Classic race of the season. The absence of defending Champion White River may be a blow but at the same time, it leaves this golden contest wide open, with many runners capable of striking gold for glory.

Gilbert Rousset knows that victory in this gigantic race will all but guarantee him the Trainers’ title. Representing him is ALYAASAAT, who has performed to satisfaction in his debut season. He has struck in three Group races and even became the very first horse to get the better of White River. On what he has shown, he is more than capable of earning Nooresh Juglall his first Classic win.

Ricky Maingard is looking for his third win in this Classic race, following Tales Of Bravery (2013) and Parachute Man (2016). He will hope that UNDERCOVER AGENT (Pierre Corné Orffer) flies past the winning post first. This gelding was this season’s highest-rated arrival and has struck once and finished on the podium once in four attempts. He is far better than what he served up in his last showing, and having looked bang on form in his recent workouts, he can produce a big run. It is worth noting that Alhsibaa was nominated to run in this race, but after picking up an injury, his connections decided not to enter him.

It was in last season’s Swan – Duke Of York Cup meeting that the Gujadhur Stable-trained MARAUDING (Bernard Fayd’herbe) made his debut, making a direct visit to the winner’s enclosure. Back then, there was no suggestion that he would take his place in the starting stalls in the big race itself 12 months onwards. Already a crowd puller, he will attempt to prove that fairytales can come true. He may be competing against higher-rated opponents and at weight-for-age, but on what he has shown till now, he merits the greatest of respect.

Stable companion BLACK CAT BACK made his seasonal debut in the Group 2 Velogic Colonel Draper Cup, returning to racing after a long absence. He produced a cracker of a showing, winning the race from start to finish. He has benefited hugely from that run and with Akash Aucharuz riding in confidence lately, he is not prevented from producing similar heroics here.

THE DAZZLER (Manuel Martinez) has already made quite an impression in his brief time here. After an eye-catching showing over the 1365 metres on his debut, he went very close to striking in the Group 3 MTC 175Th Anniversary Cup. His connections opted to bypass last Saturday’s Group 2 over the 2100 metres in favour of entering him in this big race, a decision which must be respected. He showed up strongly in his grass gallop and it would be wrong to put a line through his chances here.

HAYLOR (Jameer Allyhosain) represents the Simon Jones’ yard. He was strongly fancied last Saturday, but unfortunate circumstances meant he did not run. This consistent sort seems to be in good condition and is capable of bagging a lower placed finish.

The Preetam Daby-trained PUGET SOUND (Imran Chisty) completes the line-up. On what he has shown in his debut season, a very tough task awaits him here.