Our racing expert likes a trio of runners at Nottingham this afternoon.
Eric Alston’s MAGHFOOR wouldn’t be an obvious form pick for the feature class 3 handicap over an extended 1m2f as he has failed to better sixth in four starts since finishing third at Wetherby in June. However, he went up a harsh 6lb for that effort and has become well handicapped again, having been dropped a further 1lb since his latest sixth at Redcar seven days ago. That was a much better run than it looks as was held up in a race that it paid to be handy and found plenty of trouble, before keeping on to be nearest at the finish.
Now turned out again quickly over what is his ideal trip and with Paul Hanagan an eye-catching jockey booking, he may well be able to get competitive here and reward each-way support at tasty odds.
Of his rivals, Lyricas Lion is just 3lb higher than when beaten a short head at Goodwood last time and deserves to be favourite.
The 6f handicap looks tough to solve with 17 set to go to post but they’ve all got to beat Mick Appleby’s SAAHEQ, who is seeking a hat-trick after 5f wins at Doncaster and Sandown last time out. He had been off for over a year when reappearing at the former track and the time off had clearly done him good as he bolted up, landing some good bets in the process. It was a similar story at Sandown as he was heavily backed into favouritism and could be called the winner before halfway, with his three-quarters of a length winning margin not being a true reflection of his superiority after he idled in front.
Clearly in rude health and with today’s extra furlong unlikely to bother him given he stayed 7f last season, I fancy he can go in again.
Syrian Pearl, who has won the last two runnings of this race and looks to have been trained with a hat-trick in mind, is feared most.
Given her come-from-behind running style, MAYGOLD is a horse who is going to need some luck and for that reason she’s a somewhat tentative selection for the closing 5f handicap. That said, Ed Walker’s filly has managed to get her head a couple of times from ten tries and has kept her form well since scoring over this trip at Goodwood in May off just a 3lb lower mark. She appeared to appreciate the rain-softened ground on that occasion, which makes her subsequent efforts on faster ground all the more creditable, and today’s good ground will be fine for her.
With the bang-in-form Oisin Murphy taking the reigns for the first time, she must go close if getting the breaks at the right time, although it’s difficult to ignore the claims of Captain Lars, who arrives here on a four-timer and without a penalty for last week’s Goodwood success.
All odds were correct at time of posting.