There are plenty of all aged handicaps to get our betting teeth into at Doncaster on Saturday and none more so than the Great Portland with a full field of 22 runners.
Winner of this contest two years ago off 99 and second to the upwardly mobile Oxted last year when rated 95, MOMENTOFMADNESS looks very feasibly treated here off 91.
The cream on the cake with the selection is that he showed his turn was just around the corner last time with a fair third to Only Spoofing at Goodwood, for which amazingly he was dropped 2lbs for.
Of his 21 rivals, I have the utmost respect for both Dean Ivory’s Yimou and light weight Ginger Jam. The last named was an impressive winner at Beverley last time out and looks as though this extra half furlong is made to measure.
A full field of 18 will go to post for this Premier Handicap over a mile-and-a-half and there are plenty of familiar names in the entry with the likes of Buildmeupbuttercup, Royal Illusion and Persia among others.
However, I am really sweet on the claims of the four-year-old gelding QUESTIONARE. He was gradually stepped up in trip in the past two years so his performances improved, culminating in a cracking fifth of 14 to the highly progressive Princess Zoe at the Galway Festival.
However, that race and a subsequent fifth of 13 at Killarney over 14 furlongs didn’t play to his strengths as they went a crawl on both occasions, and he was predictably outpaced before staying on nicely.
That is unlikely to happen in a field of this size with plenty of strong stayers and I am expecting the selection to get a really nice pull in this race. Dropped 7lbs this season despite not having been disgraced, this looks a really nice set-up for the selection and, with luck in running, I expect him to hit the frame at the very least.
A disappointing field of eight for the money on offer here and, as befits a nursery handicap, several of these are probably hiding their real talent under a bushel – especially racing over this new trip of a mile.
That applies massively to the hugely promising BABINDI trained by William Haggas. On both her career starts, this daughter of Frankel has shown plenty of promise despite relatively moderate gallops on both starts.
This step up to a galloping mile looks made to measure for her and her opening mark of 77 may well underestimate her budding talent.
The majority of the races on the Chester card offer fields of a single figure nature, apart from the final two handicaps and this 6-furlong event has a monster amount of early pace on.
That is exactly what the well handicapped VENTUROUS (each-way) needs in order to return to winning form after a while in the wilderness. David Barron’s charge started the season off in good form with two good efforts at Haydock and Newmarket off 89, but his performances have dropped off since.
The upside to that is that the handicapper has finally shown him a bit of mercy and he is set to race off 84 here from a good inside sit. Robert Downey will have to use up a bit of petrol early on so he doesn’t lose the advantage of that position, but once settled his potent turn of foot down the straight should see him involved here.
Of those that like to run from the front, the course specialist Bossipop is nicely boxed in stall four.
Meanwhile, top weight Brian The Snail is back down to within 2lbs of his last winning mark earlier this season at Newcastle.
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