Steps to stomp all over rivals
Man On The Spot previews Saturday's televised action from Ayr and Newbury and fancies Steps to cope with a hike in grade.
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Camborne profited from a slowly-run race to score over 1m6f at Doncaster last week but faces better opposition here. Fattsota has winning form on soft ground but two previous tries in the grade have resulted in heavy defeats and more interesting is KASSIANO, who ran away with a conditions race at Newmarket last month and was second in a Group 1 on the Tapeta at Meydan earlier this year. He gets the nod though Contributer was fourth in a Group 2 at Ascot in June and there's a good chance he'll act on this much slower surface. There is still time for him to fulfill a lofty home reputation but Main Sequence has become expensive to follow since finishing second to Camelot in last year's Epsom Derby. Gifted Girl has been in great form but tries a new trip here and Spillway simply doesn't look good enough.
First Mohican has his sights lowered after contesting a Group 2 at Deauville last month but the class act may be SHARESTAN. Soft ground is no problem for the Godolphin gelding and, though he hasn't raced since running at the Dubai World Cup meeting is March, it's unlikely fitness will be either. Hajras and Media Hype have an even longer absence to overcome but Clon Brulee won at Doncaster last week, though steps out handicap company for the first time here. Willie The Whipper was sixth in the French Derby in June and won twice in heavy ground last year but made no impression in the Great Voltigeur at York last month and may need further than this while Romantic Settings has disappointed the last twice.
SHAMSHON won by six lengths on debut at Sandown and comfortably landed a Listed race at Deauville over 5f on his next start. The extra furlong here shouldn't be a problem and Richard Hannon's colt, who has the Middle Park as his main autumn target, can complete the hat-trick. Cable Bay has been quite highly tried and there's no reason why he won't run his race again. He's preferred to Figure Of Speech, who had Anticipated behind at Deauville last month and finished ahead of Hot Streak when only beaten a short-head in the Sirenia Stakes at Kempton, though was behind Cable Bay at Goodwood earlier. Supplicant looks up against it in this grade but Complicit and Trading Profit both have scope. Rufford was well backed for a valuable sales race at York and may be better than he's shown so far.
Sir Reginald had The Confessor behind when runner-up over 7f at Chester and went one better at Doncaster. He has a chance here, despite the penalty, while stablemate Polski Max could be interesting if recapturing early-season form. Likewise Dick Bos while Thunderball showed signs of a revival last week when just behind Pearl Ice, who now carries extra. Graham Gibbons rode the latter on Town Moor but has now switched to stable companion COLONEL MAK. Winner of this in 2010 from stall seven, he's back on familiar territory and has come right back to form, winning at Pontefract before only finding one too good at Newmarket. The ground is perfect and David Barron's six-year-old has as good a chance as any on the form book. The drop back to 6f might benefit Trail Blaze and he's another with decent claims while Boots And Spurs is another dropping down in distance. Irish raider An Saighdiur may be the pick of the remainder as this looks too competitive for old Harrison George.
Ger Lyons rarely wastes a trip across the Irish Sea and his Saxo Jack beat a decent sort in Steps To Freedom at Dundalk and is improving. Sennockian Star looks best equipped of the three Mark Johnston runners to handle the soft ground but he turned in a shocker at Doncaster last week while Trader Jack is struggling to get his head in front and has had every chance in his last two starts off lower marks. VOODOO PRINCE was only beaten a couple of necks in a desperate finish at Doncaster a week ago. This looks a good opportunity to gain compensation with Disclaimer having his first run since disappointing behind Leading Light in the Queen's Vase in June. Trade Commisioner gets no respite from the handicapper but Haafaguinea is worth a try over this longer trip and makes more appeal than the penalised Llanarmon Lad.
There have been a few upsets in this fillies' Group 3 down the years and Melody Of Love was the first winner in five years to start at single-figure odds when successful 12 months ago. Tim Easterby usually aims one at this and Azagal is interesting on the back of an excellent run behind Morning Post at Doncaster, though David Wachman's Remember You may start favourite on the back of her second to hot favourite Great White Eagle in a Group 3 at the Curragh. VALONIA looked a smart filly when quickening clear in a maiden at Goodwood at the end of July. Coral Mist and Valen finished third and fifth respectively and both have scored since while fourth Autumn Sunrise, sixth Kanz and seventh Aqlaam Vision are other winners to have come out of the race. She has untapped potential and can improve past a few of these. Mecca's Angel was second in a York Listed race last month and Blockade has improved of late but both have more on their plate here.
The softer the ground the better for Maarek but he didn't shown much on his first start for new handler Barry Lalor and is undoubtedly better over an extra furlong. STEPS is in fine form and was only beaten a nose by Angels Will Fall in last week's Portland Handicap. He is 2lb better off here and can turn the tables and take this step up in grade in his stride though Stepper Point and York Glory are both viable alternatives. Only a neck separated the pair in the Beverley Bullet with the latter meeting trouble in-running and finishing strongly. Kingsgate Native and Tickled Pink have both been taking on top-class sprinters but the former is quirky and carries a penalty while the latter also needs things to go her way. They both finished ahead of York Glory and Caledonia Lady at York last month however. Miss Lahar won a Listed race at Naas in July but this is more competitive.
Captain Ramius comes out of the same stall as when successful under Pat Smullen 12 months ago. He has 5lb more to carry but should again beat second Regal Parade, who is hard to predict nowadays. Louis The Pious, Hawkeyethenoo and 2011 winner Our Jonathan all finished in mid-division last year but the latter races off a much lower mark this time around, though has been very disappointing this season. MASS RALLY beat Highland Colori by a short-head in the consolation Silver Cup last year with stablemate Spinatrix fourth and Hamza sixth. He's better off with that trio and looked as good as ever when edging out Nocturn at York in the spring. Only beaten a head by Jack Dexter off level weights in a Group 3 at Newcastle in June, this is much more his cup of tea and he'll be threat to all if Paul Mulrennan can find the gaps again when it matters. As well as Captain Ramius and Hamza, Kevin Ryan also saddles Bogart and Royal Ascot winner Lightning Cloud while Tropics has been a revelation this summer and beat Nocturn in a Listed contest at Newmarket last time. Lover Man had Humidor behind when winning at Maisons-Lafitte in June while Hasopop is a decent three-year-old and Baccarat mowed down Spinatrix in the Great Wilfrid at Ripon, which is always a competitive affair. Hoof It, a former Stewards' Cup winner, was third in the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock two weeks ago so has to be considered and Khubala could also run well off what looks a decent mark. Ascot second Gabriel's Lad and Irish raider Joe Eile are possibly best of the rest.