I'm having a rare look at a non-televised card and it is a bit disappointing to see such small fields for the first day of Doncaster's St Leger meeting.
We will come to those shortly but we should probably lead on the “Legends” race at 15:35, though I wouldn't dream of having a bet or put something up in what is a charity-cum-novelty event.
I'd probably side with Kieren Fallon and Kilbaha Lady if forced, as the former champion jockey – the one true former great in the line-up – keeps himself very fit, and his mount comes here after a good run on all the all-weather last time and is pretty well-handicapped on her turf form earlier in the season.
Fallon was never going to be missed by the layers, though.
Anyway, on to the “serious” racing, and the small-field 2yo contest at 13:50 and the seven-runner 5f Listed race at 15:00 can be dealt with pretty quickly.
I'd be inclined to side with the proven form of Misty Grey at around 5/1+ (the Betfair Sportsbook opened up at 15/2 on him) against the potential of his three once-raced unbeaten rivals in the opener, but not enough to have a punt, and the same goes in the sprint, where Equilateral would probably be my token choice.
A bold choice for the nursery
I was planning to take a chance on Owney Madden in the 7f nursery at 14:25, but the more you look at it, the harsher it appears his 9lb rise for winning by a neck at York is.
His pedigree suggests this extra furlong will suit him, and he has a decent chance on the clock too, but the handicapper has made his life pretty tough.
I am still scared of him but Embolden is getting some of my cash, instead.
I was doing a pundit shift on Racing TV when this colt ran over 7f at Musselburgh last time – he was very weak in the betting beforehand, going off at a Betfair SP of [8.][ compared to his industry price of 5/1 – and I thought he should have gone very close to winning there, despite being beaten two-and-a-half lengths.
He was rushed up early to take advantage of his inside stall there, but then gave way pretty quickly as the winner took control, and he then endured a “hokey cokey” run in the final two furlongs or so.
Tony Hamilton went inside and outside, but failed to get a clear run and he never got the chance to come with one smooth challenge in daylight until the race was over.
Granted, the horse may not have been helping him – and he wears first-time cheek pieces here – but I immediately thought “nursery” when seeing the run and a mark of 80 will hopefully prove workable for a horse that changed hands for six figures as a foal and a yearling.
It's not a gimme by any means but the winner was a 150.000 euros full brother to Cable Bay, the third is currently rated 1lb higher on a mark of 81, and the fourth and fifth ran well in defeat next time.
Hopefully, this race has been the plan for a while and it is interesting to note that the owner-trainer combination had a 20/1 winner at this meeting last season.
The Sportsbook originally put him in at a very generous 8/1 – it didn't last – but back him at [7.0] or bigger on the Exchange.
The course must be very disappointed that a £30k fillies race has attracted just four runners, while the £20k conditions race has fared little better with just the six in the line-up.
A two-handed attack on the 20-runner handicap
The races make very limited betting appeal as a result, so I am happy to take aim at the 20-runner 5f handicap at 17:20, where I am going to have two stabs at solving the puzzle.
Afandem does look very solid but Secretinthepark (pictured, purple silks) is my number one choice.
I actually chucked a few quid at him at Ascot on Saturday and got no run for my money as he hit his head on leaving the stalls, and his chance ended there and then, as he forfeited the best part of 50 yards.
Let's hope he is none the worse for the experience as he had previously been running consistently well, winning at York in July and being beaten a neck and a nose off just a 1lb lower mark than this at Newmarket last month.
He hasn't beaten a rival in his last two starts at the track but he ran well here in his youth, and he remains on a fair mark after a string of good recent efforts. Back him at [21.0] or bigger.
Abel can run a massive race
Abel Handy‘s price is on the cusp of what I consider to be acceptable but I think he is primed to run a massive race.
This front-runner is drawn 20 and it isn't hard to see him being difficult to catch if getting a solo on the rail. There are other pace angles in the race but most of these are drawn eight or lower, including possibly Secretinthepark, with Samovar in 16 a possible exception.
He was dropped 2lb after his run at Chester last time (admittedly disappointing, which does temper enthusiasm slightly) and that puts him on the same mark as when making all to win at Musselburgh in May.
That victory came in a 0-85 handicap and he can race in that grade again here off 87 after the handicapper has eased him for Chester, and a first-time tongue-tie is another interesting angle.
He finished a good sixth here off a 9lb higher mark in the Portland last season, under his jockey here, James Doyle. Indeed, Doyle has been on board for three of the horse's better runs, including a Group 3 Cornwallis win at two, and everything is in place for a bold showing. Back him at [9.0] or bigger.
The Sportsbook were offering Abel Handy and Secretinthepark at 7/1 and 20/1 respectively at the time of filing – the former opened at 10s – and also offering an extra place, so you may want to side with them each-way. I am happy to play win-only on the Exchange, though, given the hugely competitive nature of the race.