SIR MARK PRESCOTT has been down the long brick road to the Cesarewitch many times and come back empty-handed, but that could all change this weekend.
The wizard of Newmarket’s Heath House saddles joint 8/1 shots LAND OF OZ plus long-term plot TIMOSHENKO, and this Group 1 is the one he would love to land above all others having seen four of his favourites beaten since 1993.
LAND OF OZ looked good when winning an admittedly uncompetitive trial here on good to firm last time, and he is a fast-progressing 3-year-old for whom the expected easier weekend ground is thought to be preferable. He is also 2lb well-in here, as he continues to charge up the handicap after winning off a mark of 58 in July.
But it sounds as if connections are worried by the fact that he has been going hard at it since mid-July, with seven runs, and this big-field challenge will be a draining affair for the youngster.
Willie Mullins' BUILDMEUPBUTTERCUP has been well-supported this week and is now the 9/2 jolly with Carrigill’s having been on offer at 10s earlier this week. Frankie Dettori is booked to ride and will be looking to bounce back quickly after the disappointing defeat of Enable at Longchamps last Sunday.
At bigger prices, TIME TO STUDY at 16/1 and EDDYSTONE ROCK at 25/1 both look each way plays with bookies offering five places.
A 7lb rise for the former after his Haydock run could have been worse and I loved the way he travelled into this race that day, then found when asked again late on. With just a 4lb penalty here, he is 3lb well-in.
He clearly didn't stay the 2m 4f when third to stablemate The Grand Visir and BUILDMEUPBUTTERCUP at Royal Ascot - he traded at odds-on in the run - and this 2f shorter trip should be in his favour and the booking of Cieren Fallon is another plus. If he lasts home, he won't be far away.
The trip is also an unknown for EDDYSTONE ROCK but given the way he has finished off, and won, his last two races since being stepped back up to 2m, then he is surely odds-on to see out this 2m2f.
John Best’s charge is unexposed as a stayer; a bit of ease in the ground will suit and, just 4lb higher than for his York win last time, he has appeal as a win and place at 25/1.
The Group 1 Dewhurst spearheads a strong Saturday and Guineas favourite PINATUBO looked a penalty kick after his outstanding performance in Ireland last time until WICHITA was supplemented for £40,000 on Monday morning.
WICHITA has been installed as the 4/1 second-favourite, behind the 1/3 favourite, and he certainly looked a decent 2-year-old in his own right when winning the Tattersall Stakes by seven lengths in a quick time over track and trip last time, stepping up a good deal on his earlier narrow defeat at the hands of fellow entry MOLATHAM at Doncaster.
It is currently soft at Newmarket and that is one unknown for PINATUBO, but he really did look the real deal at the Curragh last time, and the nine-length runner-up Armory hardly let the form down when a length third in Sunday's Lagardere.
Big fields at York’s final meeting of the season tomorrow (Saturday) will not make it easy to pick winners and the best bet of this two-day meeting could well be today (Friday) for Yorkshire-born trainer William Haggas, who sends out HAMISH for his father Brian at 3.50.
As for Saturday, JOHNNY DRAMA will appreciate getting back on easier ground at 3.15 while HEY JONESEY will also get his ground at a course where he has a sound record (1325) and runs off a mark 2lb lower than his last outing in the Ayr Gold Cup.
He’s overpriced at 25/1.
Carrigill’s nap: (money back as a free bet if finishes outside top 4): TIMOSHENKO, Saturday, Newmarket, 4.10.
Augur’s best bet: EDDYSTONE ROCK (e/w), Saturday, Newmarket, 4.10.