Eight runnings so far for two winning favourites which is well above average, though winners at odds up to 33/1 do tell us that we need to be on the ball if we want to find the winner of this competitive seven furlong handicap. Starting with our selection who will be Charlie Appleby’s Godolphin owned Abernathy (8/1 Each Way), a son of the great Dubawi who hasn’t won this season after four starts, though he has finished second twice. Last time out he finished a length and a quarter behind Musdam at Ascot and has been put up three pounds for his sins which seems fair enough, and as he has plenty of room to improve further he will hopefully be the surprise package this afternoon.
Popular trainer Richard Fahey took this last season with Winthernsea (12/1) and has the same horse entered again as he looks to double up as a five-year-old. Since then he has raced eight times without adding to that success but was a good second to Colour Blue at Leopardstown last time out and has been put up two pounds by the handicapper but is surely looking for a place in 2016.
Meanwhile, Tom Dascombe’s Hillbilly Boy (25/1) is all set to carry top weight here after winning three races in a row at Chester from May to July. Put up to a rating of 106 he returned after a short break when sixteenth of twenty-three to Brando in the Ayr Gold Cup overt a furlong less but if that has put an edge on him then he could do a bit better now though he does look a bit high in the weights off just one pound less now, with Richard Kingscote already booked to ride.
Dinkum Diamond (12/1) is a very useful tool at his best for Henry Candy and although not getting any better at the age of eight he could still get involved in the finish here. His last of six career wins was at Leicester in October 2015 but he has been coming back to his best recently with a couple of third places here and at York, both over a mile yet interestingly he has yet to win beyond this seven furlongs. Oisin Murphy seems likely to ride him for the seventh time this afternoon and although a win may be beyond him off his current rating, a place remains a distinct possibility.
With the Ian Williams yard in good heart to end the flat season with a 31% strike rate it would be folly to ignore the claims of Shady McCoy (20/1) who has won off a rating of 87 but not the 91 he is forced to carry this afternoon. Last time out he finished fourth to Greenside in a lesser race at Newmarket, beaten three and a quarter lengths at the line and would need to add to that if he wants to get involved in the finish here.
Lastly, Bertiewhittle (16/1) is one of the few entered here who won last time out after finishing with a rattle over this trip at York to win by a neck under apprentice Rowan Scott and although put up five pounds for that victory he cannot be ruled out while at the top of his game.
Lastly, we have David O’Meara’s That is The Spirit (20/1) and although we suspect his trainer will be at Santa Anita for the Breeders Cup, he can still go well with Adam Kirby booked to do the steering. His last win was at Ayr in September over this trip and although higher in the weights now his stable is as astute as any and their horses are invariably competitive.