10 runners are set to go to post for the Fairfax Saddles Grassroots Series Middle Distance Final Handicap (15:20) at Nottingham on Wednesday, a competitive heat in which most of them can be given some sort of chance.
Smiling Jayne (95) tops the field on Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings having the filled the runner-up spot on her last two starts. She was beaten just a length on her latest outing at Ayr, sticking to her task well and simply unlucky to bump into another lightly-raced filly on the up. That performance earned her the 'Horse In Focus' Flag, underlining that she remains one to be interested in from just a 2 lb higher mark.
Balqaa (94) also has the 'Horse In Focus' Flag as she won with plenty in hand at Newcastle eight days ago, hitting the front over a furlong out and gradually asserting from there to land the spoils by two and a half lengths. This will be a quicker-than-ideal turnaround, but she is potentially well treated under a 5 lb penalty if arriving in the same sort of form.
Another last-time-out winner in the field is Natchez Trace (92), who continued a good run of form on the all-weather when making all to regain the winning thread at Kempton last week, always doing just enough to win by half a length. Like Balqaa, he has a 5 lb penalty to contend with in his follow-up bid but is not one to dimiss, particularly as he doesn't appear to face any obvious competition for the lead.
The Navigator (93) also arrives here in good heart judged on his ready win in a handicap hurdle at Kelso two weeks ago. It goes without saying that this will be a different test altogether, but he remains fairly treated on the level, lining up today from just a 4 lb higher mark than when winning easily at Carlisle in May.
Savrola (91) has done nothing wrong since getting off the mark on his handicap debut at Haydock in July, running at least as well in defeat when finding one too good in both his subsequent starts. He didn't appear to have any excuses at Newmarket last time and is 1 lb higher in the weights today, but it's not out of the question that he may yet have more to offer given his unexposed profile, particularly at this trip.
The William Haggas-trained Tathbeet (88) looks the pick of the rest. He wasn't seen to best effect when fifth on his handicap debut at Kempton last month, leaving the impression the emphasis on speed was against him and ending up being caught further back than ideal. He has been gelded since and could be worth another chance to resume his progress now fitted with first-time cheekpieces by Haggas, who has the 'Hot Trainer' Flag to denote that his yard is in rude health.
Ian Williams also has the 'Hot Trainer' Flag, but his runner, Kemerton (85), doesn't look obviously well treated from a BHA mark of 73 judged on the limited evidence we have so far, finding little under pressure when down the field on his handicap debut at Sandown two weeks ago. Similar comments apply to Wakey Wakey (87), who is still a maiden after nine starts and lines up here from 4 lb out of the weights.
That just leaves Gangway (91)and Night Bear (91§) to make up the field. Gangway needs to bounce back from a below-par effort at Salisbury last time, not looking entirely straightforward as he wandered under pressure, while the issues with Night Bear's temperament are fairly well established at this stage. He is refitted with cheekpieces today after finishing down the field on his latest run at Newmarket.
Timeform Analyst's Verdict:
Smiling Jayne has bumped into well-handicapped rivals the last twice and can get back on the scoreboard here. Balqaa and Natchez Trace look the likeliest dangers.
Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings:
95 Smiling Jayne
93 The Navigator
92 Natchez Trace
91§ Night Bear
87 Wakey Wakey
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