The Racing Post's Dave Randall selects his best bets on an intriguing and competitive card at Doncaster on Saturday, which includes the final British Group 1 event of 2022.
Doncaster registered 26mm of rain on Thursday ahead of their two-day meeting this weekend and the ground was officially described as soft, heavy in places ahead of the Friday action.
The improving forecast suggests that it is unlikely to go heavy all over for the Vertem Futurity Stakes card on Saturday, but it should still pay to concentrate on horses who relish genuinely soft ground.
Young Fire @
Auguste Rodin @
King Of Steel @
Cold Stare @
Five places are available each-way in the opening Class 3 7f handicap (1.20) and two horses with significant soft-ground course-and-distance form take the eye.
The Ralph Beckett-trained Tomfre won this race in 2020 on heavy ground from a mark of 97 and features off an 11lb lower rating of 86, with his mark plummeting after four below-par runs on good ground.
The last time he encountered an easier surface he was beaten around three lengths into seventh of 13 in a better-class 7f Chester handicap in May, and when he struck form in October 2020, he did so after finishing last on good ground at Newmarket 17 days beforehand.
The five-year-old is 4-9 on soft or heavy ground, 3-5 at this time of year and Rob Hornby is 3-11 when in the saddle.
The David O'Meara-trained Young Fire is the other horse worth backing each-way. The seven-year-old took a step back in the right direction when finishing in midfield in a better-class York handicap earlier this month, and the drop back to 7f on soft ground on this course is massively in his favour.
In November last year, he was beaten just over a length into second in a better-class course-and-distance handicap on soft ground from an 8lb higher mark. He is 4-13 on soft ground, 5-25 over this 7f trip, 2-7 at this time of year and Daniel Tudhope is 2-9 when riding the gelding.
The feature event from Doncaster is the one-mile Vertem Futurity Stakes (3.35) for non-gelded juveniles, the final Group 1 race of the 2022 British Flat season.
Aidan O'Brien is attempting to achieve a record-breaking 11th success in the race. He is currently the joint winning-most trainer in the contest alongside the late Sir Henry Cecil.
The Ballydoyle maestro has two runners. Salt Lake City is ridden by Wayne Lordan, and considered the second string. He is an improving son of Galileo, proven in the conditions, but his form doesn't as yet match up to that of Ryan Moore's mount Auguste Rodin.
The son of Deep Impact went two from three with a likeable victory in the Group 2 1m KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown last month. That effort sets the 1m soft-ground form standard the others need to surpass, before factoring in any likely further improvement, and he is a worthy favourite.
The John Gosden-trained Epictetus was returning from a break when a promising second in Newmarket's Group 3 Autumn Stakes this month and he is a form danger, if as effective on the easier surface, but the each-way suggestion in the field is the once-raced King Of Steel, representing David Loughnane.
The Wootton Bassett colt cost $200,000 as a yearling and relished the testing conditions when winning with authority from a wide draw on his Nottingham debut this month.
The Derby entry was quoted at around 20-1 for this race immediately afterwards. He could be anything in these conditions and is worth supporting at just over half those initial quoted odds.
There are five places available once again in the lucky last, a Class 4 21-runner 7f handicap (4.45).
Cold Stare represents David O'Meara, after returning to form when reaching second in a better race over 6f on heavy ground at Haydock this month. He is extremely well treated on the pick of his soft-ground successes over this extra furlong.
Zip represents Richard Fahey following a promising Catterick fifth last week. The six-year-old is a course-and-distance winner on soft, who is 12lb lower than when last successful in a better-class 7f soft-ground Musselburgh handicap in this month last year. Oisin McSweeney takes off 5lb. He is 5-29 (+ £19 to a level stake) when riding for Fahey.Safer Gambling Week (17-23 October) – Let’s talk about safer gambling. Click here for more information on independent resources. Gamble Responsibly.