The Khee to success?
Will Hayler works his way through the field with a horse-by-horse guide to the 34 runners in Saturday's Betfred Cesarewitch.
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Tiger Cliff (trainer Lady Cecil): Late developer, who was a bit unlucky not to win at Royal Ascot, but made amends in good style in the Ebor. Soft conditions brought his stamina into play there, but he showed first time out that he can handle quicker ground - even if some cut might be preferable. Raised handicap mark demands further improvement but this likeable galloper can definitely still run another big race. Backers might have preferred a slightly lower draw though.
Oriental Fox (M Johnston): Mixed bag of efforts this season but his best runs put him right in the mix, for example when mugged on the line in the Nortumberland Plate. Appeared to go particularly well when partnered with Johnny Murtagh last time out and no surprise to see him back in the plate. By no means impossible that more can be conjured out of this enigmatic performer, particularly by such a wily rider.
Thecornishcowboy (J Ryan): Strong traveller who improved throughout last winter and signed off with two good wins on the Polytrack at Kempton. Connections have presumably had half an eye on this race for a while and absence since February need not prove a major problem given his capable trainer. However, this will be considerably harder than anything he has tried to tackle before and surely going to be outclassed.
Chiberta King (A Balding): Dug deep to win the Queen Alexandra and stamina clearly won't be an issue here. Outclassed in better company twice since and back at the right level but may lack the tactical pace in the last half-mile. Overlooked despite the booking of the remarkable Oisin Murphy.
Pallasator (Sir M Prescott): Plagued with physical problems, in common with many horses of his enormous size, but confirmed that he has a six-litre engine when finally getting going in the last two furlongs on his belated reappearance at Haydock and rushing home for third. This remorseless gallop might well bring out the best in him and trainer very much to be feared in this contest. However niggling doubts persist, both over fast ground and his durability - and his trainer is on record as expressing fears over his stamina for this trip.
Domination (C Byrnes): Respected on his trainer alone and also brings course form to the table having bolted up in the Cesarewitch Trial last year. Undoubtedly improved even further since (probably should have won last Flat start at Galway and dotted up in two hurdles) and very much entitled to his position at the head of the market. Has thrown in the odd disappointing run (even when well-backed) though and clearly not bombproof.
Earth Amber (N Henderson): Presumably bought with hurdling in mind, but showed fair level of form first time on Flat in Britain for new connections and French form also suggests she might be capable of defying her handicap mark. Hard to weigh up despite encouragement in latest report from her trainer and eyecatching jockey booking, but on balance others must be preferred.
Broxbourne (M Johnston): Prolific winner this season, stamina no issue, and stable's runners perfectly capable of bouncing back from one or two below-par performances. However, looks weighted up to the absolute hilt now and present wellbeing certainly under suspicion after recent dip in form.
Platinum (P Kirby): Enthusiastic galloper, who kept on well from the front at Haydock last time. A 4lb penalty for that win is far from prohibitive and a repeat performance ought to see him on the premises. However, has looked a slightly quirky customer in the past and worry is whether there will be enough excitement in this race to keep him interested.
Clowance Estate (R Charlton): Gets 4lb swing with Platinum for a length and a quarter that separated them last time and arguably open to more improvement going up in trip for the first time and lacking that rival's miles on the clock. Not to be ruled out.
Smoky Hill (M Delzangles): Attracted some canny support for this race after good fourth in a French Group Three on his latest start and connections opted for this target rather than the Prix du Cadran last weekend. Stamina not an issue and sole start on good going produced a win. Interesting.
Lietuenant Miller (N Henderson): Been among the leading candidates for this race for months now with a string of progressive, gutsy efforts on the flat. A lot to do from 12lb higher than his last winning mark but is in a superb vein of form and should give backers a run for their money with Ryan Moore booked.
Brockwell (T Dascombe): String of consistent efforts in strong races this season bodes well and has been given some pretty injudicious rides at times, but is looking a shade exposed and has had the better part of 13 miles of racing this summer. Doesn't really look to have the right profile.
Moidore ( J Quinn): Looks well exposed off his current mark on the face of things, running well without threatening in much weaker races. That said, connections will be looking to exploit an outstanding hurdles mark in the near future so they may have left something to work on this autumn. Not impossible.
Big Easy (P Hobbs): Ultra-game stayer and stable's record on the Flat always merits respect but unwise to get too carried away with comparisons to yard's previous winner of this race Detroit City. Sure to run well, but seems unlikely to have the toe of speedier rivals in the finish.
Seaside Sizzler (R Beckett): Appeared to be keeping something back for himself in the past, but fortunes have revived this season, although he now returns to the career-high mark which seemed to kill off his chances last time. Warmed up for this with a run in sunny Spain, but could well be left out in the cold here.
Scatter Dice (M Johnston): Has looked potentially well-handicapped for a while now, without being able to take advantage. Decent fifth in the Northumberland Plate stands out this season, but potential improver for the fitting of a visor and doesn't have an entirely dissimilar profile to Contact Dancer who sprang a shock in 2004.
Waterclock (R Charlton): A total novice at the game in comparison to the vast majority of these but has been holding his own in fair company of late and the booking of the exciting apprentice Joey Haynes adds further interest - an outsider with a squeak.
Cosimo De Medici (H Morrison): Career personal best came when winning the trial for this race 2 years ago. Took advantage of a generous mark to sluice up at Southwell on his penultimate start but looked set to struggle off revised mark once more when a distant fourth in that same trial more recently.
Albert Bridge (R Beckett): Good seventh in this race last year and very much looks the type to keep improving. Still lacks the miles on the clock of some of these rivals and definite grounds for optimism. On the minus side, he might prefer a little more cut in the ground.
Cousin Khee (H Morrison): Good strike rate and increasingly looks like a real stayer this season. Ran okay when outpaced behind Platinum at Haydock and might well get closer given that the race didn't really pan out as he might have preferred there. By no means impossible to see this winning hurdler relish the extra test here.
Nanton (J Goldie): No lover of this great game could be condemned for shedding a tear if Nanton rolls back the years to win what could surely be the last race of his amazing career. Has never really challenged when tried over this trip in the past though and must sadly doubt his chances now, especially after his dire latest effort in the trial.
Poyle Thomas (R Beckett): Appears the stable third-string on jockey bookings but Jim Crowley unable to do the weight here and might actually be the preferred entrant. Haydock flop perhaps excusable given the ease in the ground and could bounce back given his clear scope to improve.
Eagle Rock (T Tate): Had a fine season and canny trainer always respected in big handicaps, but this looks tough and his performance in the trial behind Oriental Fox offered few positives.
Recession Proof (J Quinn): Returned from two and a half years on the sidelines when down the field at York last time. Stable flying and undoubtedly well treated on best of old form (winner of 8lb higher mark at this track back in 2009). Brilliant apprentice booked too. But still requires an almighty leap of faith to see him take this.
Taglietelle (A Balding): Form has started to tail off in recent starts and previous winning course form not enough to make him of interest in such a competitive contest.
Sohar (J Toller): Potentially well treated off present mark but recent efforts have been largely poor (even though the flip start was to blame for her poor run at Glorious Goodwood). That said, it's definitely possible to argue that she is well treated with Chiberta King at these weights on Queen Alexandra form and can't be entirely ruled out.
Los Nadis (J Goldie): Second of four runners for trainer who likes a tilt at these prizes. Multiple winning hurdler but looks to have a mountain to climb against these rivals.
Flashman (R Fahey): Improved again for good gallop and two miles this season and closely-matched with Eagle Rock on recent York form. Not good enough here though.
Sign Manual (M Bell): Newbury win first time out this season confirmed that he definitely has talent, but subsequent efforts have seen that talent masked by obvious signs of temperament. Hood, applied without success earlier in the year, is back on. Chances depend upon the extent to which his fire is relighted by this big field. Looks a more obvious contender for last place than first. Sorry, your Majesty.
Swinging Hawk (I Williams): Wins at Chester and Haydock this season have confirmed that he can still get the job done. Not at this level though.
High Office (R Fahey): Likeable horse in many ways, but hardly profitable to follow given the two and a half years since his last victory. Trip unlikely to be a problem, but won't be good enough to figure at this level.
Merchant Of Dubai (J Goldie): Wins in his turn on the Scottish circuit, but won't be adding to that record here, even with excellent apprentice on board.
Jonny Delta (J Goldie): Spell over hurdles seemed to revitalise him back on the level in the summer, but handicapper played his part in bringing that to a halt and likely to have too much on his plate.
Verdict: Almost impossibly competitive stuff, but at least at the prices you can have two or three attempts at finding the winner and still take home a decent profit if any of them obliges. Victories for Pallasator or Tiger Cliff wouldn't surprise me in the least, but I'm going to chance three at bigger odds. Albert Bridge ran well in this last year and could be ready to do better now, Recession Proof is too well handicapped to leave out, but the narrow selection goes to COUSIN KHEE, who is unexposed - probably intentionally - in these sort of conditions.