With further rain last night, it's probably better to take a small perm into day four of the Ebor Festival, for all the pool's guaranteed to be a sizeable one.
"The weather has tempered enthusiasm over many in the last couple of days, but if anything it should strengthen the claims of Tiger Cliff here..."
14:05 - It's not often that a horse returning from the best part of four months off is the most solid option for the Placepot, but Cristoforo Colombo has fewer questions to answer than most of his rivals. For example, seven furlongs on rain-softened ground will hardly be ideal for Rex Imperator, the drop in trip is unlikely to suit the rather lazy Glory Awaits and Sirius Prospect has been siriusly inconsistent this year. Cristoforo Colombo isn't exactly rock-solid, being uncertain to find seven furlongs ideal alongside his aforementioned absence, though his soft-ground form and evident speed should see him through.
14:40 - They're dropping like flies in the Melrose, with five of the original 16 already out as I write this. Working on the assumption of testing conditions, we need a horse that will benefit from 14 furlongs, not merely stay it, and mercifully Havana Cooler fits into that category. Third in a strong race at Goodwood last time and just 2 lb higher now, you'll be lucky to find three in this race as well treated as Luca Cumani's charge. Second in is Debdebdeb, who is more of a traditional Placepot selection, being steadily and unerringly progressive in recent months. She has stamina to spare at this trip, too.
15:15 - You could easily take four in the Gimcrack and still go out, but with our aim being to keep it tight pairing up seems reasonable. The trusted two are Astaire, who found his last jump in class too much after his debut but has strong form otherwise (including at this course), and My Catch, who has been impressing with his pace in France and remains open to improvement.
15:50 - The fearsome Ebor has lost some of its stature this morning, with more than quarter of the runners withdrawn on account of worsening conditions. The weather has tempered enthusiasm over many in the last couple of days, but if anything it should strengthen the claims of Tiger Cliff here, as he's both proven on the ground and will evidently stay all day. Oriental Fox also makes it in; he mightn't be as consistent as some, but his manner of racing lends itself to these big-field handicaps, while his second in the Northumberland Plate looks as good a trial for this race as any on offer. Finally, Sheikzayedroad mightn't be the most likeable, but he's in good form, has put up some good efforts in similar events and is the type to get himself in contention before throwing in the towel, making him a reasonable Placepot prospect.
16:25 - This listed race looks a prime place for a banker. If eight had still been in, Excel's Beauty might have been the prudent selection, but with only two places now available it makes more sense to go for Outer Space. He certainly looked like one bound for better things than listed company when taking a maiden at Sandown on his debut, for which he sports the Timeform 'large p'. Any above-average progress would put Outer Space in the mix, and the anticipated improvement would see him win comfortably.
17:00 - In this final leg it's impossible to ignore Sennockian Star, who has never been out of the frame in 15 handicap starts. Admittedly, he rarely encounters ground this soft, but given the amount he finds for pressure it's unlikely he'll curl up faced with a stern test. Take Spirit of The Law as backup. He has more soft-ground form than most of these and arrives in the form of his life after a sustained run of good efforts.
14:05 - 7
14:40 - 7, 12
15:15 - 2, 5
15:50 - 3, 8, 11
16:25 - 2
17:00 - 6, 9
= 24 lines
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