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Mekong leads O'Brien charge for fifth Criterium

EUROPE'S final top-level contest of the Flat season the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud (12.30 GMT) has a wide-open look to it, having attracted 12 runners with not so much as a placed effort at Group level between them.

In both that context and the excellent record of trainer Aidan O'Brien in the race, the natural place to start is with last Sunday's Eyrefield Stakes winner Mekong River.

Seamie Heffernan was asked to ride that 1m1f Listed event with an eye to today, and a six-and-a-half length success obviously provided O'Brien with the answer he was looking for.

Hartnell was an even easier winner of last Saturday's Zetland Stakes over today's trip, and trainer Mark Johnston has elected to strike with a hot iron in supplementing him for €15,000.

Compatriots Shankly and Laugharne come here off the back of wins at a lower level. All three of Shankly's victims in a Salisbury novice event have subsequently been beaten, although Clive Cox holds a very high opinion of him.

Laugharne was clearly far superior to his rivals in lifting a Goodwood maiden and Roger Charlton has enlisted Maxime Guyon - who is seeking a hat-trick in the race - to the cause.

The field is completed by Surspenders, King Rubi, Bal De France, Rapido, Prince Gibraltar, Dylan Boy, Free Port Lux and Bereni Ka.

Racing takes place in Britain at Doncaster, where the Betfred November Handicap is the highlight of the final day of the Flat turf season, Wincanton, Kelso and Sandown while Diakali returns to action at Naas.

Today's pointer
Jack Dexter's form on officially soft or heavy ground reads 1111112, so he must be of interest in the 2.25 at Doncaster.

Pointer provided by Raceform Interactive

Wincanton: Good to soft, good in places
Sandown: Hurdles - heavy, soft in places in the back straight; Chase - soft, good to soft in places
Kelso: Good to soft
Naas: Yielding to soft, soft in places
Saint-Cloud: Heavy

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