COUNT on Kozando (3.15) to land the £20,000 Famous Grouse Nursery at Hamilton Park today.

The Geraldine Rees-trained two-year-old has done little wrong over the past four weeks, demonstrating a liking for the venue by scoring over track and trip as well as finishing a close-up sixth in a fiercely competitive race at Doncaster's St Leger meeting.

In a 22-runner line-up, the field spilt into two groups and Kozando actually "won" the race on the far side at Doncaster, but the main action took place against the favoured stands' rail where the ground was miles faster.

No such disaster has befallen the selection this afternoon, having pulled the number 15 stall out of the hat, which is arguably the best draw.

Throw into the equation the assistance of the brilliant 3lb apprentice jockey David Allan, and Kozando should by rights be bang there in the firing line for the climax of the valuable six-furlong dash.

Some near top-class sprinters from both north and south feature in the preceding £17,500 Sam Collingwood-Cameron Conditions Stakes.

It has already been a long and hard campaign for many of the contestants, so maybe it could pay to side with one of the fresher horses such as Bond Boy (2.40). Due to the predominantly fast ground plus a minor foot problem, Bryan Smart's 2002 Stewards Cup hero has been restricted to just a couple of outings so far this term.

Given the benefit of relatively few miles on the clock, Bond Boy, under the expert guidance of Kevin Darley, seems likely to fight out the finish with Tim Easterby's Dazzling Bay and the top-weight Danger Over.

Another of Smart's inmates suffering at the hands of the summer sun has been Ellen Mooney (4.45), in with a shout at long odds for the closing extended one-mile Alex Ferguson Handicap.

The recent rain to have fallen in the area must have been music to the ears of Ellen Mooney's supporters, who have had to dig deep of late since she hasn't won for over a year-and-a-half.

The result of her long losing streak has been a slide down the ratings to a very handy mark of just 61. Considering Ellen Mooney has been as high as 80, the four-year-old must be considered an extremely well handicapped individual on this easier surface, together with trip to suit.

* Pat Eddery, whose retirement was prematurely called by the racecourse announcer at Haydock Park, had to give up four rides, including a winner, and will not return to the saddle until tomorrow at the earliest.

The 11-time champion rode in the first two races, but a badly cut finger was troubling him, and having been examined by the racecourse doctor he was stood down for the rest of the day.

He is due to retire at the end of the season, and when told of that announcement, he said with a broad smile: ''What, with the Middle Park coming up!''

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