Dancer to toe line from his handy berth

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The Independent Online

The sweeping expanse of the July course at Newmarket is wide enough to accommodate almost three dozen horses, but so far this week it might just as well have been the width of a horsebox. A strip of ground against the stands' rail is clearly much faster than the rest of the track, and in race after race, the horse which claims it has then proved all but impossible to pass.

The sweeping expanse of the July course at Newmarket is wide enough to accommodate almost three dozen horses, but so far this week it might just as well have been the width of a horsebox. A strip of ground against the stands' rail is clearly much faster than the rest of the track, and in race after race, the horse which claims it has then proved all but impossible to pass.

Although drying weather may even things up a little, and the stalls have been moved to the far side for today's card, it still seems certain that the pattern will continue, with jockeys in high-numbered stalls tacking over the stands' side the moment the stalls open. Indeed, if anything, moving the stalls will increase the advantage for high numbers, by making it much harder for other riders to get across to the rail. Richard Quinn deserves an award for steering Moon Solitaire into the prime position from stall one in the 10-furlong handicap yesterday, but it will be a miracle if either Richard Hills or John Reid can do the same on Bertolini or Lend A Hand, who are drawn one and two in the July Cup, today's feature race.

Since Monashee Mountain, Aidan O'Brien's main contender, is in box three, the rush for the rail may well remove three of the first five names in the betting from the equation. Of the remainder, Agnes World, the Japanese-trained winner of last year's Prix de l'Abbaye, should be equally suited by today's extra furlong, but the major advantage may now lie with LINCOLN DANCER (nap 3.05). Drawn 10, with a no-hoper on his inside, Michael Jarvis's runner also has Michael Roberts on his back, a rider who is particularly adept at finding the best ground, while the form of his latest race, when he trotted up under top weight in a strong handicap at Haydock, does not give him too much to find with the principals.

The draw may be just as important in the Bunbury Cup, the day's main betting race, in which two of the favourites, Strahan and Nice One Clare, find themselves on the outside in 19 and 20. David Nicholls' Tayseer, on whom Gerald Mossé is an eye-catching booking, would be an immediate choice were he not in stall eight, but in the circumstances, Strahan (3.40) is the selection, since he should improve on his excellent run in the Wokingham over today's extra furlong. Elsewhere on the card, Kingsdon (2.35) should further enhance the Britannia Handicap form, while Bonnard (2.05) will be very hard to beat in the opener.

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