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Race of the Day on Sky Sports Racing: John Gosden colt Knight Of Honour offers each-way value in Doncaster handicap

Alan Thomson picked out an 11/1 winner at Windsor earlier this week and returns with a look at Friday’s best betting race, live on Sky Sports Racing.

The Sky Sports Racing cameras are at Doncaster on Friday for an eight-race card and the Vertem Very Different Stockbrokers Handicap (4.38), a one-mile-and-two-furlongs Class Three contest featuring nine three-year-olds, is nominated for today’s wager.

THE GROUNDWORK

Doncaster, at almost two miles round, is one of the country’s most galloping tracks and the left-handed circuit has a run-in of more than four furlongs. The official going on Thursday morning was described as good to soft, good in places and some heavy showers are predicted.

Richard Hannon is top trainer this season, saddling 10 winners from 42 runners, while Andrew Balding 6-24, William Haggas 5-18 and Charlie Appleby 5-18 boast a healthy strike-rate.

Jockeys Daniel Muscutt, William Buick and Rossa Ryan share top honours with seven winners apiece, one ahead of Danny Tudhope. They are all in action on Town Moor.

So how is today’s featured race likely to unfold?

Mark Johnston’s horses are very often ridden from the front and forcing tactics have been employed the last two times on Dubai Leader. His colt is unlikely have it all his own way, however, as Lizzie Jean made all to score at Kempton in early June and First Officer was ridden positively when powering home at Nottingham. Furthermore, Polyphonic was never headed when winning by eight lengths at Carlisle in August, so there should be no lack of early pace.

LEADING FANCIES

Knight Of Honour

John Gosden and Rab Havlin have enjoyed a long and fruitful association and they collaborate here with the top weight. Knight Of Honour’s efforts this season have been somewhat lacklustre and it is no surprise to see cheek-pieces applied following his latest sixth to useful Surrey Mist at Windsor 18 days ago. Has failed to add to his sole success at Goodwood last June but this is a shade easier than recent assignments.

First Officer

William Buick is a notable booking by Jane-Chapple-Hyam for her colt, a possible fast-improver. First Officer won at Salisbury for Roger Varian last summer and fairly bolted up for his new handler when pounding more than six lengths clear at Nottingham 16 days ago. An 8lb rise demands more but he could be up to the task.

Image:
Champion jockey William Buick is booked to ride First Officer for Jane Chapple-Hyam

Lizzie Jean

Ivan Furtado’s Nathaniel filly is bred to handle soft conditions but her career had been restricted to the all-weather before an over-ambitious tilt at the St Leger. Lizzie Jean’s earlier victories at Kempton and Southwell were eye-catching but she has shot up 10lb on the back of that latest wide-margin success.

Dubai Leader

The least exposed runner in the line-up with only three career starts. Confirmed the promise of his debut fifth to Post Impressionist at Ayr in April when making all to land a Windsor novice stakes in early May. Disappointed at Lingfield returning from a 134-day absence (wore hood which is now discarded) but is probably capable of better now moving into handicap company.

Frankendael

Tim Easterby’s gelding repelled fairly solid types Reach and Broadspear in game fashion at Beverley and is closely matched with Knight Of Honour on a collateral form line through Broadspear. Frankendael couldn’t quicken with hot favourite Nigwa in a Ripon maiden at the end of August and the winner cut out a lot of the running before capitulating a furlong out in quite a hot handicap at Newmarket on Wednesday.

REST OF THE FIELD

Unspoken

Represents the powerful Ralph Beckett and Rossa Ryan combination and appeared to get stuck in the mud at Haydock last time when a one-paced seventh to the impressive William Haggas-trained winner Al Mubhir. Unspoken won a fairly modest affair at Chester last season, pipping The Dunkirk Lads, and was quite well backed at Haydock, suggesting better was expected.

Polyphonic

Blotted his copybook with a tame effort at Ayr’s Western meeting when weak in the market but that was a rare flop. Karl Burke’s gelding ran out a wide-margin winner at Carlisle at the beginning of June and lost out in a photo to Mark Johnston’s Love Is Golden under a penalty a week later at Haydock.

Tuxedo Junction

Daniel Muscutt gets the leg up on James Fanshawe’s colt, down the field at Kempton 23 days ago. He had earlier landed the odds at Ffos Las, but not without leaving his backers in a muck sweat with a workmanlike performance. The form has worked out a bit better than it first looked, so no forlorn hope. Soft ground wouldn’t be an inconvenience.

Rich King

Finished a well-beaten fourth to Lizzie Jean at Southwell and has a bit on his plate to turn that form line on its head. On a more positive note, Ed Bethell has booked Andrea Atzeni.

THE VERDICT

With a few confirmed front-runners locking horns, a fascinating tactical affair is on the cards.

KNIGHT OF HONOUR has a bit to prove but John Gosden has lowered his sights here. Knight Of Honour possibly didn’t get home over Windsor’s extended one-mile-and-three-furlong trip last time and well-supported winner Surrey Mist bolted up by four lengths in a Listed contest at Deauville on Wednesday.

With so much potential pace in the race, Rab Havlin will probably attempt to play his cards late. My selection looks like going off an each-way price if that’s how you like to bet in these tight handicaps.

First Officer never appeared likely to be overhauled on a yielding surface at Nottingham on his first start for Jane Chapple-Hyam and there may be more left in the locker. The form of that race appears solid, with trounced runner-up Ascending having won at Goodwood (soft) in June. Frankandael, a son of Camelot, handles muddy terrain and that could count for plenty if rain has arrived before post-time.



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