Racing Post day at Doncaster Racecourse on Friday
Hugo Palmer thought enough of his charge to pitch him into Group Two company as a juvenile last year, but he disappointed in the Superlative Stakes and that run signalled a premature end to his campaign.
It looked as though the son of Intense Focus would struggle to get his head in front after three starts this term, but a mid-season gelding operation seems to have worked the oracle, Hyperfocus scoring twice since his return.
Hyperfocus first scored at Haydock at the beginning of September before defying a 5lb rise to claim another win on heavy ground at the Merseyside venue at the end of the month.
The handicapper took a dim view of that verdict and hiked him 8lb in the ratings and while conditions on Town Moor will be nowhere near as deep as at Haydock, Hyperfocus has proved perfectly adept on good to soft ground in the past.
Harry Fry does not havemany runners on the Flat, but Golden Birthday has been flying the flag in fine style and can continue to do so in the Free Bets At 188Bet Casino Handicap.
A four-times hurdle winner, Golden Birthday has made a successful transition to the level with victories at Leicester and Kempton, although it could be argued the runner-up slightly gifted him a winning opportunity on the latter occasion.
That said, Golden Birthday still won in decent style and while a 5lb hike is not ideal, a further step up in distance should play into his hands.
John Gosden and Frankie Dettori can make it a double at Newbury with Royal Line and First Eleven.
Royal Line steps up a notch in class for the British Stallion Studs EBF Conditions Stakes having absolutely hosed up at Haydock on his most recent start.
While he won by just over two lengths that day, he was eased right down in the finish in the manner of a potentially smart horse.
First Eleven has fluffed the start on his two outings to date but if he can pull it together this time, the second division of the Join Hot To Trot For 2018 Novice Stakes looks eminently winnable.
Bred to be a Classic contender as a Frankel half-brother to Kingman, First Eleven has just given himself too much to do with his tardy starts and Gosden will surely have him well drilled in that area now.
Cheltenham opens its doors for the first time this season and connections of Sceau Royal will be hoping he will back here at the Festival in March.
The five-year-old finished sixth in the Champion Hurdle back in March, a run which only served to underline the fact he is a little short of top-class over hurdles.
However, Sceau Royal must have delighted trainer Alan King on his first start over fences, running out a comfortable four-and-a-half-length winner at Warwick at the start of the month.
He looked a natural over the larger obstacles, hardly being pressed to claim the verdict, and while the squareintheair.com Novices’ Chase is a step up, Sceau Royal should once again shine.
Beat That has not had quite the same dream start over fences, but it could be dangerous to rule him out of the Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices’ Chase.
A dual Grade One winner over hurdles back in 2014, Beat That has had his problems since and was off the track from January 2015 until returning at Sandown in April this year.
Well off the pace in the Select Hurdle, Nicky Henderson then turned his attention to fences and put up an excellent display of jumping before finding Brother Tedd half a length too good in the finish.
Hopes were obviously high he could improve on that effort at Perth in July, but after leading through the early stages, a sticky jump at the 12th let in his rivals and he looked held when he came down at the last.
If that fall has not left too much of a mark, Beat That could still realise a bit more of his potential over fences.
* Friday racecards for Doncaster and Newbury in today’s Star.