Postscript has six appeal
Ian Ogg's horse-by-horse guide to Saturday's Betfred Cambridgeshire at Newmarket.
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A winner of three races up to a mile, latterly when winning a similarly competitive handicap at York in May from a 1lb lower mark. Big fields appear to bring out the best in him but the handicapper has him firmly in his sights and it's hard to believe the application of a hood will eke out sufficient improvement to cope with some less exposed rivals.
Grand servant for a yard that is enjoying a decent season but it seems significant that the stable's star apprentice has been allowed to ride a more fancied rival despite being aboard for his last three starts. Last two wins have come at York, he's 5lbs higher than for the more recent of them and has never won from this high a mark.
Boom And Bust
Has shown a smart level of form in some of the top mile handicaps over the past two seasons, proving to be a consistent performer. Appeared to get this trip well enough in a conditions race last time but this will be run at a different tempo to that eight runner heat and he remains on a career high mark.
Has returned a beaten favourite on four of his six starts since winning his maiden which tells it's own story. He still has time on his side, it's relatively easy to make excuses for his two latest defeats and there's no doubt that he has the ability to run a big race if everything comes together.
Prince Of Johanne
Popped up in this race last year when a 40-1 chance and began this season in a similar vein with a nose defeat to Fury and victory at Ascot. Those runs have left him 13lbs higher than 12 months ago and he has to put a poor run behind him but this test clearly suits.
The booking of the in demand and talented Michael Murphy goes some way to negating the 10lb rise received for an impressive win at York which wasn't as big a surprise as his 33-1 SP suggests. Said not to want the ground to ride too fast so the recent rain has been a big plus and there could be more to come after just 11 career starts.
Has won just once in nine starts but at least that success came in a valuable Listed contest at Meydan where he posted a respectable run on his penultimate start in the UAE Derby in March. Entitled to come on for his encouraging return at Newbury and this test should suit.
A winner of four of his 24 career starts, including a Premier Handicap at the Curragh last season from a similar mark. Yet to hit top form in two starts since returning from a break and it would have been preferable to have seen more last time even allowing for a possibly inadequate trip and blinkers replacing his usual cheekpieces (which are back on).
Mull Of Killough
Has a decent strike rate with five wins (at up to a mile) from 21 starts and he's just 3lbs higher than when scoring on the July Course in July. This trip on turf raises obvious questions (stamina on the dam's side) while he's not obviously well handicapped but no surprise to see him give a good account.
Successful on three of his first 11 starts but has now gone 14 races without getting his head in front although his consistency means that he's still 11lbs higher than for that last win. Conditions were against him in the 2010 renewal and it would be no surprise to see him improve on that run given that he's been running well in the main this season.
Picked up a decent prize when winning a fillies' handicap at Ascot in May and added a French Listed race to her haul on her penultimate start in July. Far from disgraced in a Group Three on her return but this is undoubtedly more competitive as well as being a different type of test and over a trip that she still has to prove effective.
Progressed well last season, winning three times, and has continued to move forwards this campaign, picking up some minor black type in the Warwickshire Oaks. Failed to give her running last time and there's little to suggest that she can be a factor here.
Certainly deserves to pick up a decent prize after second place finishes in the Buckingham Palace, Bunbury Cup and Royal Hunt Cup over the last two seasons. Two of those runs came from a mark just 1lb lower than his current perch but there's no margin for error on his first start beyond a mile.
Man Of Action
More miss than hit during his 2012 campaign and the handicapper is only gradually relenting but he is on a 2lb lower mark than when 19th in last year's renewal (beaten nine lengths) where he met with a good deal of interference and his yard has been among the winners.
Beat a decent sort (now rated 114) in a course handicap back in May and has been contesting Group races since finishing fourth in a Newbury handicap that has worked out well. The return to handicapping should suit as should the trip and dangerous to dismiss with the promise of more to come.
Has the unusual distinction of winning his maiden after being successful on his debut due to the disqualification of the 'winner' some months later. Not beaten far in a Royal Ascot Group Three on his third start and nothing wrong with his second to Sovereign Debt last time. There should be a good deal more to come but this is the first time he's come up against a big-field of streetwise handicappers.
Just one success as a juvenile to his name but he has shown progressive form over the last two seasons, albeit in defeat. As a result, he's having his second start from a career high mark in the most competitive race that he's tackled to date.
Useful handicapper on his day and races from a 1lb lower mark than for his last success in April 2011. Has made the frame a couple of times this season but he disappointed last time when said to have lost his action and needs to bounce back from that. but his stable is finishing the campaign strongly and he's no forlorn hope on the pick of his form.
Progressive handicapper with two wins over a mile in each of the last two seasons to his name. Off since Glorious Goodwood where his strong finish after a troubled passage suggested that he hasn't stopped winning yet but the extra furlong of this test will ask questions of his stamina.
Has only finished out of the places three times in his career and has charted an upward curve this season having passed the post in front on three occasions. His most recent success came over a mile and a half but he should have the pace to cope with this drop back in trip although this is his most demanding task to date.
Has done his current connections proud, producing a string of creditable performances throughout the season but he's not been the easiest to win with and it would be a surprise to see him do so in a race as competitive as this.
Licence To Till
A tough and consistent campaigner who has already had a remarkable 21 starts this season, winning twice. He regularly finds a handful of rivals too strong in races of this nature and he'll do well to improve on last week's sixth.
French raider who has been the subject of market support in the weeks building up to the race. Produced an eyecatching run in a Listed handicap at Deauville on his latest start and merits respect given his connections with the trip and ground promising to suit.
A debut success in 2010 is scant reward for his efforts but decent runs in polytrack handicaps the last twice suggest that his turn may be near. Whether it will come on his return to turf in one of the most competitive handicaps of the season is doubtful but this hold-up performer should appreciate the way the race is run if his stamina lasts out.
Chil The Kite
Exciting youngster who should be rated higher than his current mark of 102 (able to race off 97) in time but he has shown signs of temperament/inexperience this season, in hanging across the course when winning at Ascot and Doncaster. His manner of racing suggests the longer trip will suit and he appears to hold leading claims if his energies can be channelled in the right direction.
Came into the race in fine form when successful in 2010 but only had a handful of runners behind him 12 months ago and was pulled up after virtually refusing to race in a three mile handicap hurdle when last seen in action.
Five-times a winner already in a campaign that began at Dunstall Park in January but he showed no sign of either his exertions or the handicapper catching up with him when running away with the race at Haydock. Up in trip and grade but on a roll and difficult to dismiss.
Enjoyed a profitable mid-summer with back-to-back wins in mile handicaps at York the highlight. The cards didn't drop right when gambled on back at the Knavesmire on his penultimate start but he had every chance at Doncaster last time and the way he finished didn't suggest this extra furlong would unlock further improvement.
Picked up a couple of class four handicaps in June but has finished well held behind two of today's rivals in his subsequent outings, suggesting that his revised mark could prove beyond him.
Has failed to build on his win at Doncaster in early August and, although he pulled his chance away on the second and the trip may have been too far for the first, it's difficult to envisage him bouncing back in this company.
Regressive form for Jim Bolger after making a winning debut and sold for just 2,500 guineas in July. Has already proved good value for money, going close at Goodwood on debut for the yard, and, despite finishing well held since, he's shaped as though he could be suited by a strongly run race over this trip. One of the more interesting outsiders.
Interesting in so far as he won last year's consolation race and is unbeaten in two starts at the track and it's entirely possible that Ascot - where he's raced the last twice - just doesn't suit. However, it's proved difficult to make all in this contest and he still has to prove that he can cope with his revised mark.
Won a seller just eight starts ago so has come a long way in a short period of time but would have to enter calculations if you could guarantee that he'd pick up from where he left off having finished with a rattle at Glorious Goodwood after finding plenty of trouble in running.
Finished a fine second from a 4lb higher mark last year so, from a handicapping perspective, merits serious consideration and he's run well enough the last twice but it would be surprising if there wasn't at least one better treated rival in the field.
Gained due reward for a string of decent efforts as a juvenile when gaining a belated success on December 28 at Lingfield. Posted a career best when third in the Britannia on his latest outing, his trainer is convinced that there's more to come from his charge and the stamina on the distaff side of his pedigree offers hope for this longer trip.
Via ante-post (Spanish Duke) and stats (Swiftly Done) previews, I've already thrown a couple of darts at this race and it may not be enough.
The case for the former is less persuasive after his last run but, with some generous each-way terms on offer, I could still be tempted to take a chance on John Dunlop's charge.
Most of the focus will be on the three year olds and there's no doubt that Chil The Kite and Mukhadram could well have the two stone in hand that William Haggas believes is necessary to win one of these handicaps.
That remark may have been slightly tongue in cheek but even having a well handicapped horse on your hands is no guarantee to success with experience often proving key.
Of the two, I have been more taken with Chil The Kite but the bookmakers rarely take any chances with horses of that type and, despite three year olds having performed well in this race over the years, I'd prefer to take them on with something at a price.
Aside from the two already mentioned, the runner that appeals most at the prices is Postscript who has improved on every start since joining Ian Williams (except when badly hampered at York) and looks capable of capping a fine first Flat campaign for Graham Lee.