Fifth Position out to start season on high note for Varian and Atzeni
Betway Handicap | 1m | 4yo+ | SKY
Fifth Position was clobbered by the handicapper after beating Space Blues by a head at Nottingham last April.
The runner-up had begun that month under serious Classic consideration – and ultimately went on to earn an official rating of 114 – so unsurprisingly Fifth Position found himself with an opening mark of 100.
After a series of solid efforts in Listed and Group company, the Roger Varian-trained gelding made his first start in handicap company with a highly creditable eighth of 30 in the Cambridgeshire.
This Listed-placed runner over 1m3f will appreciate the stiff nature of Newcastle's mile, has been dropped 1lb by the handicapper since last term, remains open to improvement after just six starts, and could prove tough to beat.
Course winner Sandret is an interesting alternative in receipt of 8lb from the likely favourite. He's on a career-high 91 but looked one to keep on the right side when securing a Doncaster classified event at the St Leger meeting last September and it's more than plausible that the best is yet to come.
The early money has been for Sir Busker, another progressive individual who races off a career-high mark.
William Knight's four-year-old showed a good turn of foot to come from off the pace to challenge for the lead at Kempton last September and then combined that natural talent with an admirable attitude to get the better of Edaraat by a neck.
A mark of 92 may not be the ceiling of his ability.
Richard Birch, tipster
What do connections say?
Karl Burke, trainer of You're Fired and Raydiance
You're Fired is a grand, old horse and has come back in great form. I'm not expecting a huge amount from him after his long layoff, but he'll like the surface and has never looked better. It's a tough assignment for him, but he'll blow the cobwebs away and at the same time hopefully run some sort of race. Raydiance is an older horse now and will appreciate the slower surface. He looks well and we'll see what happens.
David O'Meara, trainer of So Beloved and Firmament
So Beloved isn't getting any younger, but he seems fine at home. It'll be his first start at the track and we'll see how he gets on. Firmament has won around the course and seems in good order. He ran well a couple of times in Dubai this year and might have been unlucky not to win out there.
Ben Haslam, trainer of Sandret
He's got low mileage and never ran as a two-year-old. I think he has improved. I wasn't sure where to start him and had him in a race over a mile and a quarter, but he's fresh and well and we thought we'd start him over the mile. I do think he'll get further and hopefully he gets a gallop to aim at. If they crawl and turn it into a sprint, that wouldn't really favour him. He's won at the track and a strongly run, galloping mile there won't be any problem to him.
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