The feature race on St Leger Festival day 1 at Doncaster this Wednesday is the Scarbrough Stakes (15:00), a Listed contest run over the flying 5f.
Now eased in grade, Equilateral looks to hold outstanding claims of landing the spoils at 3/1 with Bethard.
This Charlie Hills trained four-year-old has won three of his 12 starts and always been held in the highest regard by connections. He has won once and been placed once in two visits to Town Moor.
Equilateral ran very well on seasonal reappearance over 6f here when a 2 3/4 lengths third to Invincible Army at this level. He then backed that up with a decent fourth in a Group 3 at Newmarket.
Although then beaten just a neck by Mabs Cross next time up in the same grade at headquarters, that was a warm renewal of the Palace House Stakes.
The Khalid Abdullah owned son of Equiano was again behind that rival, but far from disgraced when a 6 1/4 lengths seventh of 12 to Blue Point in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Although Equilateral disappointed last time out when a well-beaten sixth of nine to Soffia in a Group 2 at The Curragh, this represents a big drop in class and a return to much calmer waters.
He is now reunited with Ryan Moore, who partnered him to his last success 12 months ago at Leicester.
As Equilateral also has a 25 per cent strike rate over the minimum trip and underfoot conditions to suit, so there is nothing not to like about his chances in this.
Trailblazing El Astronaute feared most
El Astronaute is a really tough and likeable front-runner who could well get an easy lead, so is feared most.
This John Quinn trained six-year-old has won 12 of his 46 starts on the turf and showed a tremendous attitude when beating Smash Williams by three-quarters of a length in a Listed contest at Cork back in June.
He went on to follow-up under top weight in very competitive 16-runner Premier Handicap at The Curragh, and backed that up with a solid second to Soffia in a Group 2 at the same venue where he had Equilateral in behind.
El Astronaute has since been highly tried, finishing fifth to Battaash in the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and eighth of 11 to the same rival in the Group 1 Nunthorpe at York.
This is a far more suitable test and El Astronauete looks sure to make a bold bid to make all. He can be backed at 7/2 with Coral to get back to winning ways on St Leger Festival day 1.
Class-dropping Elwazir worth siding with
In the 1m 2f conditions stakes (16:45), Elwazir looks decent value at 11/2 with Betfred now dropped in class and fitted with a hood for the first time.
After shaping with promise in two backend runs as a juvenile, this Owen Burrows trained son of Frankel came into his own when stepped up to this trip and winning his first two starts last season.
The first of those was a 14-runner novice stakes contest here where he cruised into contention three from home, before scooting clear a furlong out and staying on strongly to readily beat Cross Counter by 2 3/4 lengths.
That runner-up has won four times since, including when breaking the track record in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and bolting up by 4 1/2 lengths from Epsom Derby and subsequent Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup second Dee Ex Bee.
Cross Counter also tasted international success in the Melbourne Cup in Australia and the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan, so that gives the form an extremely strong look.
It was a most taking display by Elwazir, and he went on to follow-up in impressive fashion on handicap debut at Ascot when easily beating Extra Elusive by 1 3/4 lengths.
Although he then bombed out his final start of the campaign, finishing a well-beaten fifth of seven to Teodoro in a Group 3 at Haydock, that run was too bad to be true.
Elwazir also failed to shine on seasonal reappearance in the similar grade Brigadier Gerard at Sandown when leading until getting headed three from home and constantly hanging right to finish a nine-length last of six to Regal Reality.
Connections have since given him a break to freshen-up and this is a far less demanding affair.
Bowson Fred weighted to strike in St Leger Festival day 1 sprint finale
Bowson Fred was a desperately unlucky loser last time out, so off an unchanged mark looks worth a wager at 8/1 with William Hill in the 5f handicap that brings proceedings to a close (17:20).
This Mick Easterby trained seven-year-old is on a long losing run having not scored since landing back-to-back class 3 contests at Musselburgh and Chelmsford in the summer of 2016, the last of which came off a mark of 91.
However, he has posted some really solid efforts in defeat since, including when runner-up in the 2016 Gosforth Park Cup off 97 and when fourth of 12 to Encore d’Or in a class 2 at Chelmsford 101.
Bowson Fred also ran well to finish runner-up on three occasions last year in class 2 contests, off ratings of 99, 99 and 100.
He is now able to race in this class 4 off a reduced rating of just 72 – his lowest mark since August 2014.
It gives Bowson Fred major claims from a handicapping perspective. He comes into the race on the back of a cracking effort when fourth of 15 to Four Wheel Drive at Beverley, where he lost many lengths when awkwardly away and also encountered traffic problems before flying home to be beaten just over two lengths.
That run showed that he was ready to go in again at any time, so granted better luck-in-running he is fancied to gain compensation in this competitive 23-runner affair from what looks like a good draw in stall 18.