Doncaster Racecourse

The opening day of Newmarket’s Cambridgeshire meeting is todays highlight with the ground described as good to soft on Wednesday morning although there is no rain forecast for the rest of the meeting.

The second race on the card is a valuable nursery with four last time out winners in the seven-runner field. The early market leader Noisy Night has won his last three all on the all-weather, but he is bred to be smart and to be at least as effective on turf.

Strozzi did not look to get home over a mile at Newcastle last time and the vote goes to Sed Maarib (1.35) who was readily brushed aside by Modern Games – runs 2.45 – at Doncaster earlier in the month over 7f when he gave every impression the step up to a mile would see him in an even better light. A 2lbs rise is no help but, at the time of writing, Roger Varian has saddled four winners from his last seven runners, and I hope to see his good run continue. The juvenile is 3s with MansionBet.

Max Vega heads the market for the listed Rose Bowl Stakes, but this two-mile trip is ideal for Nayef Road (3.20), and I hope he can return to winning ways having hinted at a return to form when third in the Doncaster Cup over an additional couple of furlongs. If the ground were on the fast side of good then I do think Mark Johnston’s five-year-old entire would be something to bet on, but the drying ground is a plus and this is a drop in grade for a horse whose last fifteen races have been in group class. The selection is 7/2 with 10Bet.

Bake (4.30) is unbeaten in two starts this season and is only 2lbs higher than when making all at Doncaster last time – Racing League – over today’s trip of a mile. His previous facile maiden success was gained under Tom Marquand who returns to the saddle this afternoon. The selection – 5/2 with Boylesports – was due to be stepped up in distance to ten furlongs at Haydock earlier in the month was a late withdrawal on account of the prevailing fast ground.

In the concluding Newmarket Whip the form of Babindi’s (5.05) neck second at Nottingham last month has been franked by the subsequent success of winner True Scarlet who is due to line up in a Group three here on Friday. The selection – 2s with 10Bet – has been raised 3lbs for her latest defeat, but she remains open to considerable improvement.

Dr T J Eckleburg disappointed when last seen back in July but he had been progressing nicely prior to that below par effort at Haydock. He has been given plenty of time to get over that effort and do note owners Dominic Burke – former Northern Cricket Club wicketkeeper and all-round good egg – and Tim Syder look to be targeting the race as they also own Rhebus Road. The latter runs in Syder’s colours while DR T J Eckleburg runs in Burke’s silks.

At Perth I think Punxsutawney Phil (3.05) can build on a very promising hurdle debut when he finished a never nearer 7L third at Stratford in a stronger race than this afternoon. The selection – 10/3 with William Hill – won a Bumper on the all-weather at Newcastle earlier in the year and will get further in time, but he receives 9lbs from market leader Clondaw Hollow who scored over 2m 3f at Downpatrick last month before running very well in defeat back on the level at the beginning of the month. 

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