Jinx can take High ground
Ian Brindle's horse-by-horse guide to the Group 2 Speedy Services Doncaster Cup on Friday.
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Has tended to be at his best in the autumn and justified market confidence to score in the Listed Noel Murless Stakes at Ascot having been second in the Melrose Stakes at York. Only sighted three times this season but posted a fair effort on fast ground at Sandown when tried over two miles for the first time. Never showed in the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury though trainer's horses are in fair form and David Lanigan is not in the habit of making fanciful entries.
Won the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot this season and has no issue in relation to the going as he's ploughed through much more testing conditions during his spell as a hurdler over the winter. A winner at Listed level but might just lack the class of some of these rivals this afternoon.
Not far off favourite when taking his chance in this race last year and a relative outsider today following a season to forget. Nevertheless, it would be folly to write off a Group 1 winner and he crucially doesn't have to shoulder a penalty for that Ascot victory. Not beyond the realms of possibility that he can bounce back to form today and having raced without headgear last time - connections elect to keep it off.
Posted a 25/1 surprise at Kempton off a mark of 82 earlier in the year. Well held since and no encouragement on his most recent visit to the Polytrack last month.
Fourth when favourite for the Henry II Stakes at Sandown but hasn't been sighted on the racecourse in the interim. Second to Times Up in last year's renewal and confirmed the validity of that form when second in the Prix du Cadran at Longchamp (Colour Vision behind off level weights). Tonguestrap has been applied for the first time and the prevailing going is clearly of little concern.
Hoovered up the handicaps on the artificial surfaces last season though lightly raced on the turf having appeared five times and registered one success at Ffos Las. Second in a Shergar Cup Stayers ' race that hasn't really worked out since and needs to realise at least 10lbs of improvement but Sir Mark Prescott won this back in 2001 with a similarly "unfancied" sort in Alleluia and the market should be watched closely.
Fourth in this race last season for Sir Mark Prescott and makes a debut for David O'Meara having looked to have completely lost his way during his tenure at Heath House. Completely tailed off in the Goodwood Cup on his last racecourse appearance, and while he has placed previously on a softer surface, the majority of his form has been realised when conditions have been notably faster.
Admirable old stick and a credit to the training skills of John Dunlop. Things clearly haven't gone as planned since switching to Ed Dunlop though the trainer is certainly capable of handling a high quality stayer and he's had plenty of time to have got the measure of him. Put up a fair run in defeat at York (met trouble in running) against proven Group 2 performers and having won a November handicap here in 2010, he clearly acts at Doncaster. It would be a tough call to dismiss the reigning champion if he turns up at the peak of his powers.
No surprise to see last year's protagonists, Times Up and HIGH JINX taking the lion's share of the market and the preference is for the latter.
James Fanshawe's inmate is not without some measure of risk but he is still very much open to progression at this stage. Times Up is better off with the majority of his rivals than if this were a handicap. While other jockeys have won on him, he seemed at his best with Eddie Ahern and circumstances dictate that we will not see that partnership again. Bjorn Nielsen has a very fair record with his stayers at Doncaster - having won the 2011 St Leger with Masked Marvel - and while Biographer isn't quite at that level, he should cope with the ground better than most.