Racy a Portland proposition
Ian Brindle picks up the Value Bet baton and identifies a couple of possible plays in the Portland Handicap.
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There's talk of soft ground at Doncaster on Saturday but there's nothing soft about the sprinters that will be lining up for the Ladbrokes Portland Handicap at Doncaster.
Too far for the out-and-out five furlong thrashers yet too sharp for those that stay seven, the five-and-a-half furlongs at Town Moor is a specialist distance, and speaking as a man who was at the track to see Face The Problem collared in the final strides last year, the final furlong on Town Moor is arguably the longest on a British racecourse. It seemed that way to me anyway.
The bookmakers have had the upper hand over the last decade with David Barron's Poet's Place (2011) the only winner to be returned at a single-figure starting price inside the last 10 years.
I'm not sure that the race has attracted the same calibre of horse this time around so I'm prepared to back some more experienced types against their more lightly-raced rivals.
The have been largely keeping towards the middle and the stands' side on the straight course over the last three days and while not completely dismissing the idea of a horse from a low draw prevailing, it's worth noting that even last year the winner came from stall 21.
That horse was Doc Hay and David O'Meara's six-year-old returns to Town Moor to defend his crown off a 3lb higher mark.
He proved that victory to be no fluke when going on to win in Listed company at Ascot but pickings have been slim since he has been tried in better company
Brian Ellison's horses have also been running well of late and the booking of Ryan Moore aboard RACY looks significant.
It would be an amazing story were the six-year-old able to win this as he was plying his trade in claimers as recently as May having looked to have badly lost his way with Kevin Ryan.
Ellison has made a name for himself as a trainer that can glean the best from other's castoffs and his claim at Brighton was a fair one as his recruit finished second in a decent handicap at Ascot before taking fourth in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood.
With a weight differential of just 8lb between top and bottom in the handicap, the relative burden of carrying a higher weight won't prove as much of an issue and I can't resist the idea of a small interest about INXILE (Non-runner).
The eight-year-old has been a little difficult to catch right in the past but he was thought good enough to be taking his chance in the Prix L'Abbaye at this stage of last season.
A proven soft-ground performer and a winner at Doncaster to boot, he hasn't had a lot of racing this season as he'd had a busy time at the Meydan carnival earlier in the year.
If we learnt anything from Friday's race at the track over the extended six-furlong trip, it was there was certainly no disadvantage to being drawn near the stands' and probably a slight advantage. Dandy Nicholls' stalwart can capitalise from stall 19.