Pallasator shoots for Haydock prize
Pallasator looks likely to get his chance to shine for the first time this season in the Betfred "Goals Galore" Old Borough Cup at Haydock.
A leading fancy for the Ebor but not declared due to fast ground and a dirty scope, the Sir Mark Prescott-trained four-year-old was unbeaten in three runs during the last campaign, completing the hat-trick at this track in September last year, but has not run this season.
Although twice a winner on Polytrack in his lightly-raced career, that latest victory came on heavy ground and his rider Luke Morris said: "The ground can change very quickly at Haydock, but it looks like he might get his ideal conditions, which is obviously a big plus.
"He took a long time to come to hand last year, which is why he only had the three runs, but I've always really liked him - even though he wasn't the finished article.
"When he won at Haydock last time I thought he was a proper horse, but also thought just how much he was capable of progressing.
"He's such a big horse that he'll probably improve for the run, but his work at home has been good in the last few weeks and he should be plenty forward."
Another prominent in the ante-post market has been Poyle Thomas for the Classic-winning yard of Ralph Beckett.
Unraced until this season, the four-year-old continued his development with a rallying neck win at Newbury last month.
Beckett said: "Although he's won on fast ground before, he's got the pedigree to handle dig in the ground.
"He also won at Newbury when there was dew in the ground. I'm not saying he's a mudlark, but I wouldn't be overly concerned if the rain did come.
"He keeps finding more, which is always a good thing, and going a bit further will also suit him.
"Hopefully he can be competitive."
Ryan Moore continues an association with the Hughie Morrison-trained Cousin Khee that has so far yielded a victory and a second from three tries.
The six-year-old has proved a versatile sort, finishing a creditable eighth in the 2011 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and winning over hurdles, on the Polytrack and on turf.
He was last seen coming from a fair way back to take second over two miles at Kempton and is dropping back a couple of furlongs.
Tony Stafford, representing owner Raymond Tooth, said: "He ran very well at Kempton, which suggested he stays two miles, and he also showed a lot of speed at York.
"We probably wouldn't want it to get too soft, but a bit of that rain which is forecast would be fine.
"He's gone up 3lb, which might be enough to get him in the Cesarewitch, but Mr Tooth would love to win both that race and the Old Borough Cup.
"Ryan does like the horse and obviously so do the owner and trainer.
"He might be quite dangerous in a race like this as he has a turn of foot."
Old stager Nanton continues to perform with credit as an 11-year-old, winning a valuable race for amateur lady riders at York on his penultimate outing.
However, Jim Goldie's gallant grey has a preference for a sound surface and his trainer said: "He really needs fast ground so the weather has to be a concern.
"If there's less than 10 millimetres (of rain) he'll be OK, but if there's any more you'd have to be concerned.
"He's been a grand old stick and is now at the bottom of handicaps, rather than the top.
"It's a good prize to win, he's got a good jockey and the handicapper has been quite fair to him, so hopefully he goes well.
"He was disappointing at York the last time - he never really fired - but I think that was largely down to the fact it was a roasting-hot day."
Michael Bell's Suraj has been largely disappointing in four runs this season , having started 2012 in promising fashion before ending it having a spell over hurdles with Jonjo O'Neill.
He is now back with Bell, and Hugo Lascelles, racing manager for owner Lady Bamford, said: "We'll have to see how much rain comes - he won't run if it's heavy.
"He's always threatened to win a race like this, but he's one of those horses whose handicap rating has always been a little too high.
"I'm sure he's got a good one in him somewhere, but he just needs to get on with it now."
It is a case of more rain the better for the Richard Lee-trained Gassin Golf, who is making his return to the Flat.
A useful handicapper on the level, the Montjeu gelding was pulled up in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March before arguably being a shade unlucky not to win at the Punchestown Festival in April.
Lee said: "The wetter the better.
"Let's hope it keeps raining and doesn't stop.
"His form on the Flat was very good when he was with Sir Mark (Prescott), who never ran him unless the ground was soft.
"We bought him to go jumping and though it went pear-shaped in the Triumph, he acquitted himself very well in Ireland - but that was because it was heavy ground.
"He's grown nearly a hand over the summer, but he needed to because he wasn't an overly big horse.
"Fingers crossed we can have plenty of fun with him."