The Punt Daily: Tom Collins with three to follow on Saturday
Marcus Tregoning's unexposed five-year-old gelding has obviously had his problems, but is a much better horse than Class 5 company suggests and should record his third career victory. Back to a mark of 73, 2lb higher than when last successful, Hawkerland ran a nice race on his reappearance in June to finish third behind the well-treated Okool off a mark of 78 but disappointed when last seen at Ascot, trailing in seventh of eight. He was fancied to win that day (backed from 11-2 down to 10-3) but didn't show his true colours and should bounce back from that. He has to give plenty of weight away and Ralph Beckett's Construct could prove to be a danger, but he's the best horse in the race.
I've waited a while for Firmament to strike and I've tipped David O'Meara's gelding in The Punt a few times, but hopefully today is the day. The four-time winner has been running consistently well in big-field handicaps over the years and despite performing creditably this season, the handicapper has relented a bit and lowered him 7lb in the weights. He now competes off a mark of 100, 9lb lower than when beaten just five lengths in the Balmoral here last season, and he looks sure to strike soon. The addition of first-time cheekpieces and nice draw in stall 24 should help.
This is a really nice, competitive three-year-old handicap and I'm certain there will be more than a couple of winners coming out of it, but Escalator is the one to look at for punting purposes today and rates a fairly confident selection. Charlie Fellowes' son of Cape Cross has improved beyond recognition this season with easy victories at Doncaster and Newmarket and the form of the latter event looks strong with runner-up Arigato hacking up at Sandown during the week. Although Escalator won by two and a quarter-lengths that day, he could have won by double the distance and a 10lb rise looks fair. With just five starts to his name, further improvement is likely and he could be a Group performer in the near future.