Be forgiving with well-handicapped Alpha
She is Hard To Resist for an each-way bet
Back Lyra to strike gold in feature
It's worth giving a chance to Alpha Capture - 9/19.80 on the Betfair Sportsbook - who is now 30 pounds lower in the handicap than when he started the season five runs ago, thanks to Jack Enright's claim in this Apprentice Handicap.
He had shown a little more spark in his last two starts, but he doesn't stay seven furlongs, and he had no chance on his latest run at Sandown when at the rear of the field in a slowly run affair. Still, he travelled with much more zest at Sandown and could not sustain a move from the rear of the field when briefly looking as though he would threaten.
The interesting move today is the removal of all headgear. Alpha Capture had been tried in cheek-pieces, blinkers and the last twice a visor. All that comes off today as he drops into a Class 4 contest for the first time in his career. Inclusive of the jockey claim, he is 12 pounds lower than at Sandown last time and returns to the rain-softened ground for which his form figures read 712, and his action indeed suggests it will benefit him.
He returns to Doncaster, which arguably provided his career-best performance under similar conditions last September on this card when touched off by Cold Case in the Sales race.
He is one of two three-year-olds in the field (gets another two pounds weight for age allowance). He returns to six furlongs and is 20 pounds lower than his last attempt at this trip in which his jockey in the Shergar Cup gave him a god-awful ride.
He looks well worth chancing at the prices, and although Jack Enright is still looking for his first winner, he is more than capable in the saddle.
Back him win-only at 8/18.80 or bigger.
This is a fascinating race as the prospect of soft ground throws something of a spanner in the works for the two big guns at the top of the market, having raced exclusively on a sounder surface this summer.
It would be a surprise if Johannes Brahms could give away ten pounds to impressive York scorer Dragon Leader, who is yet to show his hand fully. Still, both are now facing unknown conditions, and Dragon Leader may have been slightly flattered at York, having killed the race by halfway on rattling quick ground.
Today should prove more of a stamina test for Dragon Leader, so it is worth chancing Flaccianello - 14/115.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook.
She is a bigger price elsewhere, frustratingly, but there's still some juice in the price for me, albeit it's borderline.
She looked right out of the top draw when making her debut at Catterick, having been outpaced at halfway but motored home, overcoming serious greenness to run down Lady Pink Rose. The runner-up went on to run an excellent seventh (won her side of the track) in the Group 2 Queen Mary, which has worked out brilliantly, before scoring in workmanlike fashion at Beverley, and the fourth won next time out.
The selection was a no-show at Royal Ascot in the same race and ran poorly at Haydock but bounced right back to form at Newmarket when encountering soft ground for the first time - something her action hinted that she might benefit from.
She won with any amount in hand at Newmarket over Say Hello, who had shown some progressive form before that, so the fact that she ran too bad to be true next time should not reflect on the selection. The third, Mirroring, won at Epsom next time out, which ties in with other progressive two-year-olds and subsequent winners.
It's a positive that Richard Fahey decided to skip the Ebor meeting with this one, given he has won this twice, had two-thirds and a fourth with those priced less than 33/134.00.
The extra half a furlong today and soft ground are her optimal conditions, and with stacks of pace drawn around her, she looks worthy of a small each-way bet if connections continue with the same patient tactics that saw her run so well at Newmarket.
Back her no shorter than 14/115.00 and take advantage of the four places on the Betfair Sportsbook.
Darnation will be very hard to beat here, but she is priced accordingly, and it would be astounding if her old rival Hard To Resist - 9/25.30 on the Betfair Sportsbook - is out of the frame. Frustratingly, the Sportsbook has cut her while writing into 9/25.30 while she is a general 7/17.80 elsewhere.
I was happy to play her at 4/14.80 or bigger so I am still pressing on, but I would have preferred a profit margin on the place part of the bet. I think they are too far apart in this market.
She may have given today's favourite more to think about if granted a clear run at a crucial stage in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood last time when finishing strongly for third, and there's further improvement to come judged on her three runs to date.
William Haggas' runner has improved chunks with each outing, recording RPRs of 46, 78 and 92, and her pedigree suggests moving up in distance will bring even further improvement.
Reflecting on her running at Goodwood, she finished the race better than any other runner in the field, and Saffie Osbourne had to stop riding, having gone for the rail and then been switched inside.
Still, her finishing effort was of an improving filly, and she is bred to be useful, so she may be worth giving another chance with this long home straight likely to prove right up her street.
There's plenty of pace in this contest. While the selection has made the running in the past, she clearly enjoyed passing horses at Goodwood, so in the hope that connections allow Darnation, Romanova and others to soften each other up, she might be able to nick this with a late withering run.
Hard To Resist clearly enjoys testing conditions, while that's not certain of impressive Salisbury scorer Romanover or Newmarket debut winner See The Fire, who are both ahead of the selection in the market, so she offers some each-way value.
Pray that at least eight stand their ground and back her at 4/14.80 or bigger.
This race is wide-open, and I am keen to oppose favourite and Goodwood winner Sumo Sam, who had the run of the race on the South Downs and met many rivals who failed to handle conditions and could not make up ground and today saddles a penalty in a better race (she was also a 25/126.00 chance there).
Instead, One Evening very much tempted me, but she may prefer a sounder surface, although stepping up in distance is very much in her favour. I might save on her, but Golden Lyra - 11/26.40 on the Betfair Sportsbook - is an excellent value bet, considering she brings the best form to the race by a clear country mile.
She has taken a couple of runs to get going this season and has probably had her issues given the breaks between her first two outings, so it's not wise to judge her on the efforts at Nottingham on return and York in July.
She bounced right back to her best in Deauville last time with an excellent Group 2 fourth from off a slow pace. She was given too much to do there but stayed on doggedly at the death, and the move up to 1m6f seems logical on that evidence.
She has only had eight career runs, and today gets her favoured soft ground surface. Her latest run in Deauville saw her close right to the line, and the winner went within a short neck of Warm Heart next time in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille, while the third had comfortably taken care of Boogie Woogie at Chantilly prior.
Last year, she pulled well clear of a good Listed field at Newbury with the now 112-rated Stay Alert and went off favourite for the Henry Cecil Stakes at York, won by Haskoy (110), but disappointed on quick ground.
Today, conditions are ideal, and she looks to be coming to the boil at the right time. I'd be sure Ching Shih will be popular, having chased home Arrest at Newbury, but she may have been flattered by her proximity to the winner, and there were a couple of noticeable disappointments in the race.
The third, Shandoz, was returning from a long lay-off. The fourth, Luisa Casati, was well below form and may have been feeling the effects from Goodwood, while the fifth, sixth and seventh never ran their race. Meanwhile, One Evening has that one's holding from Pontefract.
Crack Of Light wants better ground than this today, while Devine Jewel's progression seems to have halted. Perhaps it's worth a small saver on One Morning with the promise of more to come and the booking of William Buick catching the eye should she not be pulled out on account of the ground.
Boogie Woogie will interest plenty, given her connections. Aidan O'Brien is yet to win this race and seemingly relies on one that hasn't delivered on her early promise. She hasn't looked an obvious stayer over 1m4f, and this step up in distance is an unknown.
Still, William Haggas' Golden Lyra has a bigger performance in her, and she is clear on ratings from most of the four-year-olds.