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After a first race one-two yesterday, joy was pretty hard to come by. Maureen was most disappointing, though Clon Brulee and Tha'ir ran very well to record a last race one-two. Alas, little to cheer in between.
Friday looks really tough, with small fields abundant.
Incidentally, clicking any of the race times will take you to the card, where you'll also find the magnificent Race Analysis reports and Full Horse Form Filters. They're well worth a little play if you haven't done so already.
1.40 Doncaster: It's the Group 2 Flying Childers to start, a five furlong dash for juveniles. Ambiance sets the standard on his Molecomb third two runs back. Last time, he was stepped up to six and didn't quite get home, albeit that was a Group 1 contest. Dropped in trip and class, and with a slight ease in the ground he is the form hare for the others to chase.
Wind Fire is another consistent type, and she's mixed it in good company. Her third to Lucky Kristale last time in the Lowther Stakes over six give confidence that she'll see this trip out as well as any. However, two wins from six starts, in a Class 5 maiden and a weak Listed contest, suggests she shouldn't be good enough to win this.
Thunder Strike has run some blinders and been most consistent with the exception of an inexplicable blip at Newbury, but he probably doesn't want it soft (all form on good or faster so far). And Sleeper King has been beaten by a number of these so it would be disappointing if he was good enough too.
Extortionist could be interesting at a price. He won the Windsor Castle Stakes in a big field at Royal Ascot, and then it all went against him over six furlongs at Maisons-Lafitte. Back at five will suit and he could run well at a fair price.
Green Door is another which has been beaten by a few of these and, despite the trainer's high hopes that he'd be a flag bearer for the yard, he's not performed to the same level as Extortionist and perhaps even Lightning Thunder. He could surprise - they like him - but it's hard to wager that on the evidence of the form book.
A - 1 (Ambiance), 9 (Wind Fire)
2.10 Doncaster: A small field for the Mallard Stakes, a Class 2 handicap run over the St Leger trip. Camborne has a decent profile for this, with one exception: he's not looked to see out the trip in three races over similar range. That Johnny G persists with him over a distance, then, is interesting, and with everything else in his favour, he's worth a small tickle in a tight puzzle.
One for whom the trip will be issue is the recent course and distance scorer, Shwaiman. He'll enjoy the ground too and, while this is a step up in class, the extra distance really seemed to be the making of him that last day.
Pether's Moon looks on the upgrade too and, like Shwaiman, will get a handy weight for age allowance. He won cosily at Goodwood last time and he should stay.
Tenenbaum looks perhaps the most interesting of all. He's been running on ground a lot quicker than ideal, and he was also coming back from a break last time. Stripping fitter today and on slower ground, this Listed winner and Group 2-placed horse is the value play.
A - 3 (Tenenbaum), 8 (Shwaiman)
2.40 Doncaster: Next up, the Doncaster Cup, a Group 2 over two and a quarter miles. Last year's winner Times Up bids for a repeater, and he looks to have a bullet-proof profile for the task. He'll love the ground, has bundles of stamina, and has a great course record. That man Ryan Moore will give him plenty of help from on top. I think he'll win again.
If he doesn't, perhaps the best equipped to usurp him is David Lanigan's Biographer. This is a step up in class and trip for him, but he's up to both, according to his trainer. The evidence of a close up second at Sandown lends credence to his stamina, and he may improve for softer turf. And, although a world away, he actually won his maiden here on good to soft last June.
High Jinx is a really nice Cup horse, but he's been beaten twice by Times Up last year, and does tend to find one too good, as he has done on four of his last five starts. He'll be thereabouts, but there will probably be something in front of him!
The rest are either out of form (Colour Vision) or unlikely to be good enough (Chiberta King et al).
A - 8 (Times Up)
3.15 Doncaster: The May Hill Stakes now, a juvenile fillies' Group 2 over a mile. This is a strong stamina test for the baby girls, and it has been won by some smashing lassies in recent times, including Lyric Of Light, White Moonstone, Certify and Spacious.
Godolphin have monopolized it in recent seasons, winning the last three, and they again have a strong hand to play this year with both the first two in the betting wearing the blue silks.
Ihtimal took her time to get the winning knack, but finally broke her maiden in the Listed Sweet Solera last time. Before that she was a fair third in the Chesham Stakes, against the boys. The trip should be fine, though the ground is taken on trust after four runs on good to firm.
There is confidence behind the thrice-raced Majeyda too who, in her three runs so far, has recorded two wins, the latter of which was in Listed company at Sandown over seven furlongs. That stiff test should set her up nicely for this, and she's had a break since. There's little between the pair of Godolphin entries and, at a bigger price, she's more appealing than Ihtimal.
Qawaasem finished behind Majeyda and in front of Halljoy in her last two starts, and she's likely to do so again today, with little reason to expect either piece of form to be reversed.
Lustrous is unbeaten in one, a Class 3 maiden at Salisbury eight days ago. That was before the rains though, and it's hard to know how she'll cope with softer ground and higher class. She's not shown she can't handle that combination, but 6/1 isn't really enough to tempt me that she can handle it.
A - 5 (Majeyda)
3.50 Doncaster: Gosh, it doesn't get any easier, does it? Another juvenile race, with a small field full of promising sorts. I won't be betting in this.
Be Ready and Barley Mow head the market, with the former thought good enough to pitch straight into Listed company on debut. He managed a good second there, albeit beaten nearly five lengths, and he'll come on for the experience.
Barley Mow is well regarded, and won his debut gamely over the same distance as today's race. It's hard to know the level of that form, though the third has won since from just a handful of subsequent runners.
In a field of unexposed sorts, Invincible Strike is another unbeaten-in-one animal, but he'll find this a lot tougher than the Hamilton maiden he waltzed away with on debut.
I don't like this race one bit, and I hope that either Be Ready or Barley Mow will be good enough to lift the (limped in) placepot to leg six.
A - 2 (Barley Mow), 3 (Be Ready)
4.25 Doncaster: At last, something to really go at: a six and a half furlong handicap with fourteen runners. Elusive Flame has a lot of positives in her profile and this is a step down from a Listed race she contested on her previous start. She'll not be inconvenienced by the ground, has course and distance form, and usually goes well in big fields.
Against her, Shropshire will love the ground and has run well here loads of times. He doesn't win as often as he should, but he'll be bang there again today despite top weight.
Three at bigger prices which are no forlorn hopes are Corporal Maddox, Mac's Power and Spiritual Star. Corporal Maddox is stepping up in grade, but he bumped into a well handicapped rival last time, and won a huge field handicap at the Curragh before that. He might not be done yet.
Mac's Power has been a bit in and out this season, but has pieces of form to figure in this, and won't mind a bit of juice in the green. He's not the most obvious winner, but 20/1 affords a bit of fun in his direction. Ditto, Spiritual Star, for whom the ground is a concern. That said, his only run on softer than good was when well beaten in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes, which is a measure of the esteem in which he was held. Since then, he's run with merit on occasion and 33/1 is tempting for half a crown.
A - 1 (Shropshire), 8 (Elusive Flame)
B - 2 (Spiritual Star), 9 (Mac's Power), 14 (Corporal Maddox)
5.00 Doncaster: This is a horrible race in which I have no view. I can't recommend a bet, so I won't!
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