Brushing to clean up for Tompkins
Tony Martin has secured the in-demand William Buick for the pick of the day's cross-channel handicaps.
The talented young rider partners Pires for Martin in the Totesportscoop6 Heritage Handicap at Haydock, a race in which last year's John Smith's Cup winner bids to record a first success since that fine win at York.
Pires, without a win on the Flat since losing its maiden status at Redcar four years ago, isn't the type that instils too much confidence in a race as competitive as this. His only other triumph in 20 career starts came in a novice hurdle at Killarney last year and he appears to need further than today's 10 furlongs to be seen at his best.
Sirvino remains an exciting prospect. Five wins on the bounce last season saw the five-year-old climb 36lbs in the ratings, culminating in the John Smith's victory in July.
While he ran poorly in the Cambridgeshire on his final outing, that effort is readily excused and his reappearance at Pontefract last week promised much. In a Listed event over an inadequate mile, Sirvino caught the eye when a staying-on fourth in a race full of more highly rated horses. He will have it to do today to win with 9st 8lb on his back, but he looks a solid each-way option at around 10/1.
Brushing, which carries a full 15lbs less than Sirvino, gets the nod to collect, however. With just three runs and one win to her name coming into 2010, Mark Tompkins' four-year-old filly had vast scope to improve and has done so accordingly.
On her first two starts over a mile Brushing filled the runner-up berth, before the step up to nine furlongs saw her run a good fourth at Sandown and then win at Carlisle.
Most recently, she returned to the Cumbrian venue in June to score over 11 furlongs, beating Pendragon and Goodwood Starlight, the winners of three races subsequently.
In all, she has gone up 12lbs for two wins, but her form is solid and she is hugely progressive, so there could still be more improvement to come. With 10 furlongs on slow ground potentially ideal, Brushing is the pick of the 18 runners at up to 12/1.
Earlier on the card, Tompkins saddles his 2008 Lincoln winner Smokey Oakey in the WKD Handicap. That one showed signs of coming back to its best when second last time and may represent place value now at around 14/1.
Preferred for the win, however, is What's Up Pussycat. Formerly trained in Ireland by David Wachman, the Danehill Dancer filly was having her second start for David Simcock's stable when finishing third at Newbury last time.
That was What's Up Pussycat's first try over a mile and she clearly improved for it, despite being on the receiving end of a hefty bump in the shadow of the post. She has gone up a pound since, but slow ground will aid her cause and Jamie Spencer's hold-up tactics will suit her ideally.
In the Totesport.com Rose Of Lancaster Stakes, Green Moon attempts to get back on track after disappointing when upped in class at Royal Ascot. With the going expected to count against Harry Dunlop's charge, others appeal more.
Poet, Class Is Class and Rio De La Plata will all be thereabouts, but this could go the way of Distant Memories. Tom Tate's Falbrav gelding handles soft ground well, which may be why jockey Spencer chose him over Green Moon.
On the day's domestic card at Kilbeggan, Ah Ya Boy Ya, a course and distance winner on its penultimate start, can oblige in the Hackett's Bookmakers Handicap Chase. Second on its only other outing at the Westmeath venue, the seven-year-old has a liking for the track and ran well at Galway last week.
Best bet: What's Up Pussycat