Five £30k handicaps at Nottingham this afternoon, where the ground was given as good on Tuesday morning.
Recent all-weather winners Balqaa and Natchez Trace head the market for the 10f handicap, but they must confirm the form back on turf, and my two against the field are Smiling Jayne and TATHBEET, with the latter getting the each-way vote for William Haggas.
Smiling Jayne has been raised 2lbs for finishing runner-up behind the progressive Misty Dancer at Ayr last time, and regular readers will be aware that I am a huge fan of the winner. Preference is for the Haggas 3-y-old, however, who has been gelded since disappointing at Kempton last time when far too keen.
He is fitted with cheekpieces this evening and has been kept away from the summer fast ground, having looked in need of a bit of cut despite breaking his maiden tag at Windsor on fast ground back in June.
This drop back to 10f will suit, a shower of rain would be considered a big plus, and Adam Faragher takes off a valuable 5lbs. Whatever the outcome today, he is one to have onside this autumn when the rains arrive.
Grand Scheme would surely have won at Goodwood last time had he not fluffed the start, and he is a worthy market leader even though he has nothing in hand of either Arabescato or Lawmans Blis on C&D running from back in May.
SAINT RICQUIER must overcome a poor draw in stall fifteen, but he gets the each-way vote for Ian Williams, who saddled the 25/1 winner of the corresponding race 12 months ago. The selection finished third at Chester back in June before failing to build on that when a beaten odds-on favourite on the July course just a week later when he may not have given his running.
A winner on the level in his native France, he remains unexposed and would have been a confident each way recommendation had it not been for his draw in the Silver Ring. Cieren Fallon takes over in the saddle, and the hope is that he can get into a decent position as they pass the post for the first time.
The consistent Little Edi has improved for the step up to 7f and duly got off the mark at Chepstow last time. A 2lbs rise is fair, and he looks sure to go close, but SUNNINGDALE is closely matched with Little Edi on a line through Rose Prick, but Mohammed Tabti’s 7lbs claim tips the balance in favour of the Cole-trained juvenile.
The 2-y-old is a maiden after five starts but has been quite highly tried – ran in the Chesham at Royal Ascot – and went down by just a nose back at Ascot last time. Tabti’s allowance more than negates the 2lbs rise, and he can belatedly get his head in front.
Eclipse De Lunar may have gone for home too early when runner up at Ayr last time, and he would have been the selection dropping back in trip by a furlong had the weather forecast not suggested there was plenty of rain due to hit the track from mid-afternoon onwards.
He is reluctantly overlooked in favour of TWO BROTHERS, who is 3lbs higher than when second here earlier in the month on good to soft ground returning from a three-month break. He wore a first-time visor last time, and the Easterbys’ keep the aid this afternoon.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.