By Andy Stephens
The Racing Post Trophy roll of honour makes for impressive reading and Saturday’s renewal at Doncaster looks well up to scratch.
It might easily throw up another Derby winner - High Chaparral, Motivator, Authorized and Camelot have won it since 2001 - but as a betting medium the final domestic Group One race of the year makes minimal appeal because of the depth of the field and the potential on offer.
My instinct is that Saxon Warrior is probably short enough in the betting at a top price of 15-8 - Verbal Dexterity deserves to be favourite on form - but, by the same token, I’m in no hurry to take him on.
Mark Johnston’s youngster impressed when getting back to winning ways in a Listed contest at York a fortnight ago and this contest does not look any stronger.
He will be suited by the drying ground and looks the one horse in the race who is at his happiest when bowling along at the head of affairs. If he gets a relatively easy time in the first half of the race, as seems likely, then he is going to take plenty of pegging back at the business end.
The other one I was interested in on the Doncaster card was the in-form Spring Loaded in the 5f sprint at 4.00 but last month’s emphatic Portland winner, who has since gone close to following up at York, can get going a bit late and is probably better over a bit further.
She faces more experienced rivals with better overall form but she is well bred and looked an exciting prospect when surging clear on her debut over course and distance last month.
The time was slick enough and Veracious, beaten almost four lengths into third, franked the form when subsequently bolting up at Newmarket.
Veracious is now a general 20-1 for the 1,000 Guineas (she is 16-1 in places) but the only firm to quote Magnolia Springs for the fillies’ Classic is Bet 365, who make her 33-1. Go figure.
There is also some tremendous jump action on offer at Cheltenham and Kelso.
At the former track I am drawn to Coologue, who makes his seasonal reappearance in the randoxhealth.com Handicap Chase (2.00).
Charlie Longsdon’s bold-jumping eight-year-old has won on his comeback for the past two seasons (at 8-1 and 7-1) and he is now back to the same mark as when landing the corresponding contest last campaign.
This is perhaps a sligghtly stronger race to the one he contested 12 months ago, with Singlefarmpayment an obvious threat, but he has a handy weight and Richard Johnson is 2-3 on him.
Thomas Campbell is also of interest on his return in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) at 3.45. He won first time up last term but more significant to his chance is that he finally gets the chance to show what he can do over 3m.
The son of four-time Gold Cup winner Yeats has shown useful form at up to 2m4f but he has been crying out for this kind of trip and is 1lb lower than somehow making the frame at Aintree’s Grand National meeting, where he made up a stack of ground in the closing stages.
How To Bet £20 on Saturday:
(Prices correc at 5.20pm)
1.45 Doncaster: Rebel Assault £4 win at 7-2 with Betfair and Paddy Power
2.00 Cheltenham: Coologue £2.50 each-way at a general 10-1
3.45 Cheltenham: Thomas Campbell £5 win at a general 6-1
£1.20 Win Lucky Fifteen plus £1 each-way fourfold
1.45 Doncaster: Rebel Assault
2.00 Cheltenham: Coologue
3.45 Cheltenham: Thomas Campbell
3.55 Newbury: Magnolia Springs