We are the crossover point between the end of the flat and the start of the jumps - a tricky time for punting says Kevin Blake - who nevertheless finds a pair of plays from the action at Doncaster and Newbury
"Siskany certainly looks ready for this step up in class, the testing ground will hold no fears for him and it wouldn't surprise if he tightens up from that winning run at Newmarket. All told, while he is a much shorter price than I usually side with in this space, it really will be disappointing if he fails to collect."
Last Thursday saw the first National Hunt meeting of the season at Thurles and now Cheltenham is back on our screens. Winter really is coming! To be frank, this transition period between the Flat and National Hunt seasons is without question one of - if not the - trickiest betting periods of the year. In an effort to keep you all on the straight and narrow in this difficult patch, I'm going to cling onto the Flat racing for at least another week before dipping my toe into the muddy waters of the National Hunt fare.
Bayside Boy is my bet against Luxembourg
The main event of the day at Doncaster is the Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes (15:15) and it really has attracted a deep field and exciting youngsters. Luxembourg has been a shining light for what has been an unusually sparse campaign in juvenile races for Aidan O'Brien. A big, strong colt, he has looked very much out of the ordinary in winning his two starts to date and could well be the star they've been waiting for. Mind, his price takes all that into account, whereas it might not quite take into account that O'Brien has hit another lull in form in recent weeks, with him having an unusually quiet October by his very high standards.
If one is considering getting stuck into a fav at around even money in a race this deep, ideally every box will be ticked, but that stable form is a concern.
With that in mind, I'm finding myself veering towards the Roger Varian-trained Bayside Boy. The son of New Bay has progressed with each of his four starts to date, most recently finishing a good third to the European Champion Two-Year-Old elect Native Trail in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. He shaped better than the bare result on that occasion too, as he missed the kick quite badly, was checked in his run a furlong-and-a-half from home and then stumbled/got unbalanced in the dip before coming home well.
Bayside Boy looks ready for the step up to this longer trip and his pedigree very much suggests that it will suit. This track should also suit him better than Newmarket and he already proved his effectiveness on it when winning the Champagne Stakes last month. He looks to be a rock-solid proposition against the favourite.
The other race of interest is over at Newbury and it is the St Simon Stakes (14:35). It will see a clash between the progressive three-year-old Siskany and a bunch of hardened older horses. While I would generally tend to side with the latter group when the ground is testing, I'm happy to take a chance on Siskany as he is a horse that I am really fond of.
The son of Dubawi ran absolute stormers in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot and in a similar contest at Glorious Goodwood. His run in the latter contest was particularly meritorious as he fared the best of those that raced close to the pace and was only just nipped by a very progressive sort in Nagano that was ridden much more quietly than him.
It was a minor surprise that his connections opted to geld him after that run, but that they did and he missed 10 weeks of action as a result. He returned for the valuable Old Rowley Cup at Newmarket a fortnight ago and despite racing more fresh than ideal, he powered home in the final furlong to win with plenty of authority.
He certainly looks ready for this step up in class, the testing ground will hold no fears for him and it wouldn't surprise if he tightens up from that winning run at Newmarket. All told, while he is a much shorter price than I usually side with in this space, it really will be disappointing if he fails to collect.
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