Nathr is a fascinating contender at Doncaster on Friday, returning from over a year on the sidelines for the Ricky Bond Worldpay Maiden Stakes.
Charlie Hills’ inmate was placed twice early on in his two-year-old year, finishing not too far behind Green Door at Newmarket and Bunker at Haydock, two horses who subsequently went on to victories at Stakes level.
Nathr has presumably had his problems, having been off the track since last May, but if he can replicate that juvenile form on his belated return, he sets a standard that will be tough to match in an ordinary heat like this.
Mukhmal failed to run up to expectations when well fancied at Royal Ascot last month but can reward those who keep the faith by clinching Listed honours in Sandown’s Dragon Stakes.
Mark Johnston’s juvenile created a big impression when making a winning debut at Musselburgh in mid-April and looked every inch a Pattern-race performer when overcoming a wide draw to make it two from two in Chester’s Lily Agnes Stakes.
The Middleham maestro has been a potent force at the Royal meeting down the years and it was easy to see why he nominated Norfolk Stakes contender Mukhmal as one of the major hopes for this season’s raiding party, but he came up short at the summer showpiece meeting.
However, it is not difficult to put forward a viable excuse.
Like most Johnston horses Mukhmal was allowed to stride on by Paul Hanagan, but it was soon evident he was a little too keen to get on with his job.
He was a sitting duck from halfway and was inevitably picked up by those ridden with more restraint, eventually passing the post well held in sixth.
There is little doubt he is much better than he showed in Berkshire and if Hanagan can harness that raw speed for a little longer he should take plenty of pegging back.
* Friday’s tips -
BEVERLEY: 6.30 Dialogue, 7.00 Grand Beauty, 7.30 Loud, 8.00 Kalahari Kingdom, 8.30 Silver Tigress, 9.00 Lees Anthem.
DONCASTER: 2.20 Nathr, 2.50 Classic Colori, 3.25 Flawless Pink, 4.00 Ansaab, 4.35 Reesha, 5.05 Gambol, 5.35 Random Success.
HAYDOCK: 6.45 First In Command, 7.15 Tarando, 7.45 Solidarity, 8.15 Here Now, 8.45 Esteban, 9.15 Arizona John.
SANDOWN: 2.00 Tagula Night, 2.30 MUKHMAL (NAP), 3.00 Tom Hark, 3.35 Tha’ir, 4.10 Air Pilot, 4.45 Economy.
WARWICK: 2.10 Mary McPhee, 2.40 The Dapper Tapper, 3.10 See The Storm, 3.45 Three Cliffs, 4.20 Don Sigfredo, 4.55 Eleusis, 5.25 Orient Class.
DOUBLE: Mukhmal and Grand Beauty.