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Betting Bureau: Xanadu on course to track down his best form.

Byline: Nick Fox

ISLINGTON, Kazzia and Esloob have laid down their markers for the Oaks and all are thoroughly worthy contenders at Epsom, but the trials are far from over and Protectress is a key runner in today's Swettenham Stud Fillies' Trial Stakes at Newbury (3.50).

She showed smart form, and a fine attitude under pressure, when beating Snowfire and Islington in a Listed race on her Newmarket debut last year.

Protectress has reportedly been slow to come to hand this spring and a watching brief may well be the best policy today, but it was heartening for fans of Henry Cecil to see the stable have an impressive debut winner in Succinct at Salisbury yesterday. That follows Sea Star's York win on Wednesday, so perhaps Warren Place is finding some form again.

Finding bets on the Newbury card is not easy but we could be able to nick some value in the Scottish Equitable/Jockeys Association Of Great Britain Handicap (3.20).

Mubaah is the first to leap off the page after his good second at Ripon last month, a better effort than the bare result suggests because he got murdered at the start by a wayward rival. However, he looks set to be a very short price, he is 5lb higher than for his defeat and he did race on the favoured side at Ripon.

One who makes some appeal against Mubaah is Silver Band. This blinkered daughter of Zilzal is more exposed than the favourite because she ran seven times as a juvenile, but Silver Band did progress well during that campaign and she returned better than ever at Thirsk.

The form of that recent win was given a boost at Salisbury yesterday when third-placed White Cliffs landed a handicap off a mark of 70. That makes Silver Band look very fairly weighted today off 72, and with trip and going to suit, she offers solid credentials.

Even more favourably treated is Xanadu, who has plummeted in the weights since a Hamilton win last summer. He looks a winner waiting to happen and today could be the day, back at Hamilton in the opening ML Power Rental/Macgen Power Generation Apprentice Series Handicap (6.30).

Xanadu is 19lb lower than his last winning mark, having gone badly off the boil after his June win. However, Linda Perratt broke a losing spell with a winner at Hamilton recently and there were signs that Xanadu could also be coming to hand again at the last meeting at the Scottish venue.

He was beaten less than six lengths in a sprint on unsuitably soft going, having missed the break and been switched to get away from a modest draw.

Today Xanadu has a favourable high draw, the drop back to five furlongs should suit, and the more the sun bakes the ground, the better his chance.

Hamilton is certainly the right track for Xanadu to hit form again, since his career record on the course reads 103011016. Four wins from nine starts is a pretty good strike-rate by anyone's standards.


Xanadu (nap)

6.30 Hamilton 2pts win

Silver Band

3.20 Newbury 1pt win
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 17, 2002
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