High Jinx to land spoils for Moore
Few Saturdays in the entire racing calendar can be as mundane as this one, with yesterday's news that the injured I'll Have Another will be denied his tilt at the Triple Crown in tonight's Belmont Stakes a further blow to more far-flung proceedings.
A slew of competitive handicaps is the extent of the quality on offer in these parts, with the Fly London Southend To Dublin Handicap at Newmarket the pick.
Frankie Dettori, who is job-sharing with Mikael Barzalona on the Godolphin horses once again, has got the nod for Mahmood Al Zarooni's smart Anatolian in the 12-furlong feature.
Three times a winner under the Italian on fast ground last year, the lightly-raced four-year-old struggled to get home here in soft going on his reappearance over Guineas weekend.
While Anatolian remains a progressive sort that should strip fitter now, the prospect of similarly testing conditions this afternoon is a real negative.
Mulaqen, a ready winner at York on his seasonal bow a month ago, is another of the more obvious contenders under the dual Irish champion apprentice Tadhg O'Shea.
However, Marcus Tregoning's gelding also has a bit to prove in conditions as trying as this, and the handicapper hasn't taken any chances by putting him up 12lbs.
The two of most interest are Spifer and High Jinx. Of the two, Luca Cumani's Spifer is probably the one that we know more about, having earned a reputation as profligate when throwing away two handicaps at the end of last season by hanging badly.
First time up this year, the grey son of Motivator ran well before tiring behind Easy Terms at York. But if he comes on for that and copes with the ground, he should make the frame under Kieren Fallon.
All told, though, the James Fanshawe-trained High Jinx strikes as a more dependable option. Crucially, the High Chaparral colt relishes a test, having drawn five lengths clear in the Doncaster mud for his only win over this trip a year ago, before finishing a respectable third in a decent contest here on his handicap bow.
Put up a pound to 93 for that, High Jinx wasn't without his followers when catching the eye to stay on for fourth over an inadequate 10 furlongs on his reappearance at Town Moor.
Now, that rating hike has been reversed again, he returns to his optimum trip on ground that he loves, and Ryan Moore takes over in the saddle for a first time.
In short, High Jinx looks set for a big show. With the rest of the Newmarket card tricky, the John Halewood Memorial at Chester appeals as a more viable betting heat.
War Poet, up 12lbs for winning his last two for the burgeoning stable of Fermoy's David O'Meara, is worth taking on here. Stand To Reason, second to the reopposing Resurge over course and distance in a thriller last month, is the one to keep on side.
On that occasion, Resurge, which was having its 37th career start, short-headed Stand To Reason, a Danehill Dancer colt that was having just its sixth outing.
The pair drew 13 lengths clear of the field and, off a pound better terms now, Mikael Magnusson's progressive representative is fancied to gain revenge under Ted Durcan.
In the maiden at Chester, Botanic Garden can turn around recent Ripon form with Limit Up on this slower going, while Qaspal might finally get off the mark over fences in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Worcester.
The JP McManus-owned 2010 Imperial Cup hero has struggled badly over fences this year, but posted his best effort yet when second in atrocious conditions at Ffos Las in May.
Off a favourable mark on better ground now, he could pose a potent threat for Philip Hobbs and AP McCoy.
Best Bet: High Jinx