There are two Defoes in action on Saturday, one of them rather fast and nimble, the other good-topped and a little less agile, but both very talented in their own right.
Around 60 miles south of Newbury, Jermain Defoe will be searching for his first goal of the season, unlike the equine Defoe, who has already scored three times this term.
His latest win came in a listed race at Hamilton last month, and that form is solid, the runner-up Frankuus winning the Rose of Lancaster Stakes last weekend.
Although Saturday’s Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2.25pm) at Newbury is over an extra two furlongs, both Defoe’s pedigree and run style suggest he’ll improve again for the extra distance. He can further strengthen his St Leger claims at the main expense of the older, if not wiser Frontiersman, who has shown a more suspect temperament than Jonjo Shelvey.
If the weather forecast is correct, which let’s face it, is about as reliable as a London bus, Newbury racegoers could be catching some rays around the time Sun Lover takes his chance in the 3pm Ladies Day Handicap.
The lightly raced four-year-old has some strong form to his name, pulling clear with a subsequent winner at Doncaster last time. He was travelling so well at Doncaster that his jockey had no choice but to send him for home over a furlong out, though he didn’t do much once in front and was caught by a closer in the dying strides.
Sun Lover comes out 3 lb clear on Timeform’s ratings, and with Andrea Atzeni – who has ridden the horse in three of his five starts – likely to hold on to him for longer this time, he’s hard to oppose.
It’s surely only a matter of time before Librisa Breeze opens his account at pattern level, and the Hungerford Stakes (3.35pm) looks tailor-made for him. It’s best to ignore his latest run in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood where he predictably met trouble in-running given his hold-up style and he was eased near the finish so didn’t really have a race.
The return to this more conventional track will suit this strong-travelling type down to the ground, and over his optimum trip of seven furlongs, he looks to have plenty in his favour.
Over at Newmarket, there is an interesting sprint handicap at 2.45pm, which features a horse Timeform have been waiting to reappear since his luckless run over the same C&D in July.
Tommy Taylor travelled better than most but was badly hampered a furlong out. He lost all chance after that interference, his jockey quickly realising and letting him come home in his own time.
With the handicapper unable to raise him for that effort, he remains favourably treated and should be able to gain compensation.
Finally, we end at 3.15pm with the mind-boggling puzzle of trying to pick the winner of the Great St. Wilfrid at Ripon. There are so many to consider that we could spend all day on this, but to try and keep it short and sweet, Mick Easterby’s Robero seems to have a live chance.
He has been much improved this season, winning handicaps at Ascot and Pontefract, as well as finishing a creditable fifth in the Bunbury Cup last time. The drop back to six furlongs here should be in his favour, and, with conditions in his favour, he should give us a run for our money at a fair each-way price.