Thursday's meeting at Doncaster starts the 2022 Racing League. Racing Post's Keith Melrose picks out the best bets from seven extremely competitive handicaps.
Lethal Nymph @ 7/1
Alligator Alley @ 9/1
Good Birthday @ 4/1
The Racing League's format means that horses may be partnered by unfamiliar jockeys. That Lethal Nymph has been ridden in four of his five starts by Adam Kirby is something to note with the two combining once more and it helps to edge him to the top of the shortlist for this well-contested sprint.
Lethal Nymph is also a course-and-distance winner. He beat Rizg, who finished fourth in a Listed race next time, here in April and next time was third to Lethal Levi.
After that run Lethal Nymph was given a couple of goes over 7f, as that is the trip over which his half-brother River Nymph excels, but he is by a speedier sire and he shaped last time as though a return to sprinting could pay dividends.
He is highly likely to have the talent to win off 87, he went off odds on to beat Lethal Levi off this mark, and conditions could hardly be better for him to prove it.
David O'Meara’s Alligator Alley has run only once before at Doncaster, when well beaten as even-money favourite. But that was in the Flying Childers, so the context is much more promising in a handicap off 85.
Alligator Alley has joined O'Meara this year and signs of a revival have been sitting just below the surface.
He is already well handicapped on his best run for the yard, when fourth behind Mr Wagyu at Epsom on Derby day. He made his move soon enough in that race and ran out of puff late on.
He has dropped 7lb in the weights since then, without doing a huge amount wrong, and his last run at Newmarket had the real ring of a sharpener given he held loads of entries that weekend.
Initially it was thought that the traditional sprint handicaps at York, Ripon or Ayr might have been on Alligator Alley's radar, but this valuable prize makes a lot of sense too and he would not need to return to his juvenile glory days to win this race off his current mark.
While these Racing League handicaps are warm, they are not the John Smith's Cup or a £100,000 race on Oaks day. Good Birthday has run in both of those, which are the typical high-level handicaps he tends to run in. He was even third in the Epsom race, showing form that demonstrates he is well treated from a mark of 90.
It is one thing to note that Good Birthday is dropping in class, but on top of that he holds an unblemished course record.
He is two from two at Doncaster, both being handicaps over this 1m2f trip. Although Sean Levey is taking the ride for the first time, everything else looks right for Good Birthday to put up a bold showing.