2.30 Doncaster: Mallard Handicap (Class 2), 1m 6f, 132y
A wide open handicap for stayers and a clash of the young with the old. For the veterans, I feel Noble Silk is an interesting contender back up in trip – he warrants more respect than his big price tag suggests. He is usually consistent and can go close here, albeit his mark offers little room for error. This is a recurring theme in this field as most have either to prove a point or have to overcome career highest marks.
Royal Signaller is another one of the brigade of older horses who has fair credentials on form, given that he should appreciate this marathon trip, but who is not on an overly favourable handicap mark. We have not seen the best of four year old Battersa yet, so this new trip and the likelihood of good ground may help him to find back to his fine three year old form.
Others like Pressure Point or Curbyourenthusiasm may not appreciate the very long distance, while Saved By The Bell would need to find a huge amount of improvement to overcome a career highest mark.
The classic generation seems to hold the key in this contest, though. First and foremost bottom weight Not Never. A fine runner-up last month, it is not unreasonable to think that he can progress further for his sixth career start. Whether he can win relies on his stamina, however – which is untested beyond the 1m 6f trip.
Not Never was a slightly unlucky second behind Polarisation. This hardy Mark Johnston gelding had already an awful lot of racing in his career but seems to thrive for it and finds ways to win. His stamina will the tested to the limit today and personally I feel the trip is beyond him.
Godolphin’s Future Empire was once thought to be a potential Derby contender, although it became clear pretty soon that he is a rather slow horse, once he returned to the track this year in the Derby Trial. So far he has only won a maiden on his debut, however he has ran three big races in succession on his last starts when 3rd at Royal Ascot in the Queen’s Vase, then runner-up behind smart Mr Singh in a Group 3 at Newmarket, and most recently runner-up again, then at Musselburgh in Handicap company.
That day, he was beaten by Pressure Point whom he meets today again – however on different terms. Future Empire didn’t cope particularly well with the fast track that Musselburgh is, however stayed on in very impressive style. He looks an out and out stayer who will certainly appreciate the step up to this trip here. While his mark went up, he could well improve for this extreme test of stamina.
Future Empire @ 7/1 William Hill – 5pts Win