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Contender - Bandari: Tough performer bidding to prove he has what it takes at the highest level.

Byline: Jon Lees.

HE HAS been found wanting at Group 1 level before, but the game and consistent Bandari proved he can never be written off when he posted a career-best performance at Newmarket last time, writes Jon Lees.

After racking up a hat-trick of victories back at a mile and a quarter, he earned a crack at today's King George by beating Sulamani in the Princess of Wales's Stakes on his return to a mile and a half this month.

That performance owed much to the application of earplugs for the first time, and the aids will be removed just before Hamdan Al

Maktoum's five-year-old

enters the stalls.

The practice is within Jockey Club rules and has been used by trainer Mark Johnston to help prevent Bandari boiling over before the race.

Johnston concedes his five-year-old has a lot more on his plate today. He said: "He will have to raise his game. It's a very tough race. He is thrown right into the deep end and to win this he would have to run the race of a lifetime.

"He has been pretty consistent this season and gradually on the upgrade. The earplugs were the big step forward and will help with his consistency. I think we can expect him to run the same race again.

"I've the greatest respect for Doyen, and Warrsan sets the standard. It means nobody can run an inch below top class or else they will be found out."

Bandari has set the pace on many occasions, but came from off the pace at Newmarket and similar tactics are likely to be applied with Lunar Sovereign set to make the running for Godolphin.

Bandari's rider Richard Hills said: "He's been in good form since his race at Newmarket and hopefully we can adopt the same plan.

"It was a very good run. What more can you say about Bandari? He is such a tough horse and I'm really looking forward to riding him."

KEY FACTOR

Gradually on the upgrade, but has to find the ability to raise his game to a totally new level
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 24, 2004
Words:351
Previous Article:Contender - Warrsan: Brittain: he has a very, very good chance.
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