Morning campers! Hope you all had a terrific weekend and of course loads of you backed the national winner? Well I was sat there like most thinking who on earth backed that? Then of course I found out that the prolific Chris Dixon had tipped it up on air for Coral TV and most of the staff have followed him in and had probably spent most of Saturday toasting the Encore!
I’m really looking forward to this week as this is where the flat season really gets into full swing. My excitement has already started to flourish after a great result on Saturday with Keep It Dark. He really caught my eye at Mussleburgh the week before when everything was winning from the front and he was the only horse in the race to come from the rear. I thought the more testing track at Newcastle on Saturday was absolutely perfect for him. I backed him in the morning at 7/1 and then got heavily involved in Grand National fever (including dancing round the room when Solwhit sluiced in). It wasn’t until I returned to my computer about ten minutes before the race that panic started to set in. I checked the market and he was nearly 20/1 on Betfair! What had happened? Had a leg fallen off on the way to the start? All seemed ok, horse was at the start and I was baffled. So I did what all rational punters do and had some more on at 16’s as his price had been clipped in a bit. I then sat and watched in delight as you could call him the winner a long way out. The moral of this is just don’t let drifts put you off. They do win.
I’ve had a good look at the card at Pontefact today and it’s a real good start to the season with some competitive races and hopefully we can find a few winners. First of all a few stats from Proform….
Trainers in from with the best win & place strike rates over the last 14 days:
Alan Swinbank 83.33%
Roy Bowring 66.67%
Philip Fenton 60%
Conor Dore 60%
John Quinn 57.14%
Ralph Beckett, Warren Greatrex, W McReery, Charles Hills, James Tate and Philip Kirby are all operating over 50%.
The Swinbank team are absolutely flying at present and must be feared. He only has one runner at Pontefract today and that is Regal Swain in the 5.15.
We will start by taking a look at the 2.10 where the Richard Fahey trained SNOOKY looks to have an excellent opportunity to continue the progress made at the back-end of last year. He’s been gelded since we last saw him and he has managed to bag stall one from the magic machine which is always a brucey bonus around here. The yards record in March & April with handicappers at 4y-o+ stands up to some considerable scrutiny and he looks to have a big chance. Dolphin rock has also benefitted from the draw and tends to go well early season. CROWN CHOICE is very much on my radar but probably not today. He is seriously well handicapped on his old form (peaked with a rating of 97 in Hoof It’s Stewards Cup win) as he races off just 70 today. This trip is probably to far for him though (all wins at 6&7f) especially with a stiff finish so today is likely to be a watching brief. He should be watched closely though and it will be interesting if any money comes for him.
The 3.10 for me is fairly straight forward as I like both of the Richard Fahey runners. Polski Max has also been gelded since we last saw him and comes here on the back of a winning effort on his final start as a juvenile. He seems to relish cut in the ground and fingers crossed it won’t have dried out too much by the time racing gets underway. His chance and price is boosted by the fact Flashlight is such a short price but I think he is well worth taking on. He won very easily on the fibresand last time but that is not uncommon for horses trying the surface for the first time (especially dirt bred) so I think he is too short and should be opposed. The other one I’m keen on is FANTACISE. After winning her maiden here last year she went on to finish just 5 lengths behind Sendmylovetorose (now rated 107) in the Cherry Hinton at Newmarket. That piece of form alone means she is potentially very well treated off a mark of 78 especially if she has trained on. Blinkers return today for her re-appearance and she is very likely to out-run her odds of 16/1 so I’m happy to play both Fahey runners.
I cannot get away from ZAPLAMATION in the 3.40 who didn’t even come off the bridle when winning very easily indeed on the first try over two miles last week. He beat a potentially well handicapped horse that day too which gives that form some substance. You would imagine this track will suit his strong travelling credentials and I think he will be very tough to beat. Hidden Justice comes here for the same in form yard on the back of running down the field in the Triumph behind Our Connor. He is rated 147 over hurdles so he looks dangerously handicapped in this sphere. I do have my reservations about him on the level though and I think he’s worth taking on. The other one I like at a big price is DORRY K. All of her best form comes on the turf (including when winning off higher last year) and there is a very good chance that her two spins on the all-weather would have been to put her cherry ripe for today. First time blinkers, the booking of Paul Hanagan and the price of 25/1 give her some appeal!
The 4.15 is a tight little handicap but I’m quite keen on the chances of SPANISH DUKE who has switched from John Dunlop to Briain Ellison this spring. He’s a horse that goes well fresh, has won off higher marks and indeed ran well off marks in three figures. If he is cherry ripe and has found any improvement for the switch in scenery he is likely to go very well indeed! Of the runners at a big price I thought SILVERY MOON was worth saving on at around 16/1. He is back down to his last winning mark and represents the Easterby team that love to have winners at this meeting.
The 5.15 looks a tough handicap and is very competitive. Lots of respect goes to Regal Swain for the bang in form Alan Swinbank team. He has yet to win a race though and there maybe one or two improvers around him. I really like the chances of SYNCOPATE for Pam Sly. Nicely drawn down on the inside and ran much better than the bare form suggests in a falsely run race at Lingfield last time. This should be run to suit and the stiff finish over this slightly shorter trip could be ideal. I really like his chances. Of the others I thought the main danger may well come from CARRAGOLD who always runs well at this time fo year and SDS is a really positive booking. I will back both with confidence.
Away from the racing we are looking forward to the first golfing major of the season with The Masters starting on Thursday. If you fancy anyone outside of Tiger Woods you should probably be betting with Coral. They are giving you your money back if your bet finishes 2nd to woods which is a cracking concession. I went through all the prices in detail yesterday and I couldn’t find any value anywhere in all honesty. Mickleson hasn’t hit a twig all season yet is 16/1 third favorite? I think Woods will win and more to the point I hope he does too.
Enjoy the racing today. Hope you back some winners!
All the best,