He is the defending champ with 8 wins in his last 11 races and a career stat of 20 from 31. He is the track record holder from his favourite draw. But the man who handles him every day admits that if he was a bookmaker, he would be laying, not backing Roxholme Hat in Saturday night’s BAPP Scurry Cup Final.

Assistant trainer Mark Keightley said: “Let’s be clear. The dog is in tip top order, no complaints at all. But the fact remains, he seems to have lost his early speed. I would say it is now ‘effective’ rather than ‘devastating’.

“We have looked at everything from his fitness to his weight, to his food. No stone has been left unturned. We have to wonder whether he has just changed his style. Or has the old TFL injury just taken a toll on his off hind leg when he kicks away?

“I said to Hayley that we should be grateful he is at least coming away with them, rather than missing his break like he used to do last year. The reality is, I thought he might get beat last week if he missed his break. But I didn’t expect him to be beaten on merit.

“There is no reason that he can’t win the final, but if I was a bookie I would certainly be laying rather than backing him.”

Roxholme Hat is currently priced between 10-11 (Coral/Bet365) and 5-4 with Betvictor. Interestingly, second favourite Fridays Zeus is a huge 9-2 with Coral. Best of the rest: 6-1 Airfield Penny, Tro Bella Westway Central (various) with Newmarket Plucky a massive 50-1 with Bet365.