With all turf racing in the UK today succumbing to the elements, we head to Southwell's all-weather track, where three horses have attracted our attention.
Dubai Hills has been successful on his last five visits here, returning from a four-month break with a career-best effort over course-and-distance last time..
There's an element of the unknown surrounding the three entrants for the opening race on the card given that all of them are racing on fibresand for the first time, though Edwyn Ralph (13:25) has been running well on Lingfield's polytrack surface in recent weeks and should argubly be chasing a hat-trick here, denied a clear run at a vital time when runner-up over this trip there last weekend having broken his duck at the third time of asking the previous month. Off the same handicap mark he raced from on Sunday, he gets the vote.
We race over the same 1½ mile trip 35 minutes later and of the seven-runner field Petrol (14:00) looks the most interesting. Out of a Lancashire Oaks winner, the four-year-old has only made it to the track on five occasions so far, getting off the mark on his handicap bow at Wolverhampton (9.5f) at the start of this month and, while he failed to land the odds over a shorter trip at that venue a week later, he may take another step forward for the greater stamina test this event should provide. His ability to act on the surface is taken on trust, but there's little to suggest he won't take to it.
The most valuable race on the card sees seven runners competing over a mile and there's likely to be no quarter given with several horses than like to race prominently in opposition. The possibility of competition up front may tilt the balance in favour of a hold-up horse, and Bryan Smart's Dubai Hills (15:10) seems to fit that brief. The seven-year-old has been successful on his last five visits here, returning from a four-month break with a career-best effort over course-and-distance last time when staying on well to wear down long-time leader Dubawi Island inside the final furlong. A 10 lb weight rise notwithstanding, he can add to his tally today.
All at Southwell