Easterby veteran Ancient Cross set to beat the handicapper on Town Moor

The two-day Racing Post Trophy meeting kicks off with a bumper eight-race card which will take some solving for Doncaster punters, but one who should be on plenty of shortlists is Ancient Cross in the Racing Post/SIS Betting Shop Manager Of The Year Handicap.

Trained at Sheriff Hutton by Mick Easterby, time appeared to be catching up on the eight-year-old until a promising run at the Ebor Festival was followed up by commendable efforts in the Portland, the Ayr Silver Cup and back at York.

He then bettered those efforts with a last-gasp defeat at the hands of Kingsgate Native at Catterick last Saturday, a performance which persuaded the assessor to hit him with a 4lb rise.

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The new mark does not come into effect until after today, though, so he is fancied to capitalise, with the extra furlong another tick in his box.

The Betchworth Kid is also comparatively well-in and goes to post for the Genting Club Sheffield Handicap.

Michael Bell’s veteran is another whose best days appeared to be behind him, until he encountered heavy ground at Salisbury recently and duly hacked up by eight lengths without breaking sweat.

Conditions on Town Moor will not be quite as testing but stamina will still be at a premium over the full St Leger course and, as The Betchworth Kid is competing off a figure 5lb lower than his future rating, he is taken to defy his burden.

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The form of Darkening’s latest effort was given a boost at Newmarket earlier in the week and he can give the soon-to-be-freelance Frankie Dettori another success in the Godolphin colours. The Yarmouth winner was just touched off in a red-hot nursery at Newmarket’s Cambridgeshire meeting but he was a place in front of Hoarding, who came good in a decent little conditions event back at headquarters on Wednesday.

Hoarding’s stable companion, Breden, should know more about the job at hand and lines up in the EBF Yorkshire Radio Maiden Stakes.

The 140,000 guineas purchase was doing his best work at the finish on his Yarmouth introduction and is expected to strip considerably fitter.

Similarly, a debut outing at Newmarket offered glimpses of promise for connections of Qawaafy, and the daughter of Oaks heroine Eswarah can make it second-time lucky in the EBF Kat Communications Knowledge About Telecoms Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.

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Aegaeus is also out of an Oaks winner and Ed Dunlop’s son of the outstanding Ouija Board can show the family talent in division one of the Lidget Compton Handicap.

Fourth on his handicap debut at Goodwood, the slight step back in trip could enable him to break through at the fifth attempt.

The feature event of the weekend at Doncaster has attracted a small but select field of seven runners, with Aidan O’Brien relying solely on Kingsbarns.

The Ballydoyle handler has won the Racing Post Trophy six times, including with triple Classic hero Camelot 12 months ago, had six entered at the five-day stage but is content to let Kingsbarns fly the flag alone.

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The son of Galileo certainly looked the part when routing a field of maidens by seven lengths and more on his Navan debut.

Compatriots Trading Leather and First Cornerstone already have Group victories to their name, while local interest comes in the shape of Mark Johnston’s Royal Lodge hero Steeler.

Richard Hannon has supplemented Van Der Neer and he, along with Birdman and Sir Patrick Moore, completes the list.

One who will not be making the trip to Yorkshire is Cue Card, with Colin Tizzard preferring to start his stable star back in Exeter’s Haldon Gold Cup, rather than the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby a week tomorrow.

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