Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sir Xaar Looks Good to Win; in Association with Pagebet

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sir Xaar Looks Good to Win; in Association with Pagebet

Article excerpt

Byline: MOSCROP

IT'S almost three years since Sir Xaar last visited the winner's enclosure and one of his best performances during that long losing run came in the Beeswing Stakes at Newcastle a year ago when comfortably beaten by Balakiref.

Bryan Smart's five-year-old returns to Tyneside today for another crack at the Barclays Commercial-sponsored handicap and, due to his lack of recent success, finds himself racing off a 7lb lower mark which entitles him to finish ahead again of last year's fourth, Passion Fruit, and sixth-placed Countdown.

His only other noteworthy effort last season was on his penultimate start at Newmarket where he was fitted with blinkers for the first time, along with the tongue tie, and got within a length of the all-the-way winner Celtic Sultan.

Back in 2005, Sir Xaar was a very useful juvenile, winning thee times, including a Listed event, and also finishing second in the Group Two Mill Reef Stakes. While he hasn't reproduced that sort of form since, he isn't the only horse that has lost his way after enjoying a successful first campaign.

To be honest, he hasn't looked straightforward either as he has got older. He seems to need some persuasion to go about his business and has worn a visor for his last two runs when excuses could be made on his behalf.

He probably found the opposition in the Royal Hunt Cup too hot to handle over an extra furlong and, more recently, the ground had turned against him on Plate day at Newcastle.

Ideally served by a fast surface, he stays seven furlongs well and has only to show us that he still retains some ability to make his presence felt here.

Passion Fruit is back on a winning mark - a pound lower than her last victory at Redcar almost a year ago - and it would be no surprise to see Chris Fairhurst's admirable mare take a hand in the finish, while Zero Tolerance has been knocking on the door lately without any luck and could well end his drought, though easier ground would suit.

Hazelrigg has failed to build on the best possible start to his racing career when outclassing a field of maidens at Thirsk in April. …

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