On the easy autumn going, animals with no form since April will suddenly return to their best, while big fields guarantee a series of hard luck stories. Only the Challenge Stakes, with just seven runners, seems to offer any chance to backers, but here the favourite will start odds-on.
And with good reason. Catrail (3.10) will be too short for sensible backers (after all, his stall might not open), but John Gosden's colt has developed into the best sprinter of his generation. With just seven races behind him he may still be improving, and today's opponents should be grateful to finish second.
A little more optimism will be required to back HIGHBROOK (nap, 1.35), but Mark Tompkins's mare is not as short of form as the figures in front of her name might suggest. She made up a great deal of ground from an unpromising position in a valuable race at Ascot last month, but had nothing left to mount a serious challenge. Today's going will be ideal and victory should be hers given a more enterprising ride. Simply Finesse (2.05) and Storey's Gate (2.35) may also trouble the judge.
There is no relief from overwhelming numbers at Redcar, where 26 will go to post for the Tote Two-Year-Old Trophy. Here too they will face hock- deep ground, so given that horses and riders will be mucky when they return to the paddock, Risky, owned by Sunday Sport publisher David Sullivan, might be an appropriate winner.
She will be at very short odds for such a huge field, though, and the improving Storm Ship (next best, 2.20), who has shown his best form with cut in the ground, offers better value. Wild Rose Of York (1.50) will also run well at a healthy price.
Platini, the subject of doping allegations after finishing last at Newbury last month, was not got at, the Jockey Club said yesterday. Extensive tests on the Richard Hannon- trained colt have proved negative. The Club's security department investigated his running after one of its owners was told by a bookmaker that the horse had been doped. David Pipe, the Club's spokesman, said yesterday: 'In the light of the allegations more tests have been done recently but the horse is clear.'
Cheltenham will provide free food in all public enclosures during next Wednesday's meeting. The offer is to celebrate its receipt of the Racegoers' Club Racecourse of the Year Award.
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