McBride heeds Moore's Spiritual guidance to drop filly in trip
Lady Cecil Handicap | 5f 8y | 3yo+ | RUK
She was being talked about as a potential Commonwealth Cup candidate this time last year but instead Spiritual Lady tries to get a disrupted campaign under way by dropping to five furlongs for only the second time in her career.
The filly won three of her four starts last year, including the Listed Bosra Sham Stakes. She suffered defeat behind Mrs Danvers in the Weatherbys Super Sprint, her only run at the minimum distance.
She was off the track until September and now carries top weight in this £25,000 handicap in which the opposition includes Gracious John, victorious last year for apprentice Katherine Glenister and trainer David Evans and now running off a 7lb lower mark.
Spiritual Lady's trainer Charlie McBride said: "She had niggly problems earlier in the year, the yard wasn't in form and she never came to hand very early so we had to wait.
"When she did start to come right we ran her at York but she probably needed the run, and then she ran on ground that was too fast for her at Newmarket.
"Ryan Moore suggested dropping back to five. Soft ground, and hopefully five furlongs, will suit her and we have a good jockey in Danny Tudhope."
The conditions of the race mean five of the field are running from out of the handicap, including last-time-out winners Tomily and Classic Pursuit, who are both apprentice ridden as a result.
The Mick Easterby-trained veteran Hoof It is 2lb out of the weights but ran a solid race last time out to finish a close fourth behind stablemate Perfect Pasture, who also runs.
Easterby's son David said: "It will be nice to see Perfect Pasture run again and Hoof It ran a cracking race behind him at Doncaster, his best this year. They're running off new marks but both are still in good nick. Statistically we do well in October and November."
Clem Fandango has done most of her racing in France this year but should find ground conditions to her liking.
"She needs soft ground and we're running out of time on the turf," said Mike Prince, racing manager to Clem Fandango's owner Middleham Park.
"We've campaigned her in France for the premiums and have been running her in Listed and Group races.
"There was only a small entry and quite a few out of the handicap so we thought we'd give this a go. We think she will be very competitive off her mark. She's in the mares' sale in December."
Classic Pursuit was a six-length course and distance winner last time but that was off a 68 rating and in this race he is treated as a 96-rated horse.
"He'll have a job at the weights," admitted trainer Mick Appleby. "He won well there last time but I think he'll struggle. He's 16lb out of the handicap and we're claiming 7lb off him so he's 9lb wrong, but you never know."
Time for Tea
New BHA incentives aimed at boosting novice chase field sizes this season included instructions preventing handicappers from changing the mark of horses, except the winner, that run in weight-for-age novice chases.
It means Muffins For Tea, who was beaten 27 lengths when finishing third behind Yanworth, a horse rated 41lb superior, can compete off an unchanged 122 rating in the Qioptiq Chase (2.00) at Chepstow.
Wind of change
There was still no joy for British stables in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday but involvement at the Spring Carnival continues with the William Haggas-trained Fastnet Tempest contesting the Group 3 TCL TV Stakes at Flemington (3.55am GMT Thursday).
Fastnet Tempest won twice in May, including the Victoria Cup at Ascot, but has not hit the same heights since, including on his Australian debut when eighth, beaten three lengths, in a Listed handicap at Caulfield last month.
Read exclusive previews from 6pm tonight on racingpost.com