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Colonel Slade has been threatening to win a race of this nature for a while. In fact, I backed him two outings back when he was third to Ecliptic Moon, leading at just a medium gallop before being outpaced inside the final 110 yards.
He is unlikely to be afforded such a soft lead here and although there is a lot more quantity than quality on this race (as you would expect in such a low grade contest), there are several entries in this 14-runner field that could leave their recent form behind.
One of those is KALS MOGOK, who has been plying her trade over a lot shorter. But, she caught my eye when running over 7 furlongs for the first time in her career at Fairyhouse last month, missing the start by some way and then making eye-catching late headway under a tender ride.
The filly simply can’t drop any lower in the weights, but the eye-catching booking of Seamie Heffernan, who knows her well, may mean that connections finally mean business. He was on the daughter of Mogok when she again suggested she was capable of better, when coming home nicely over 6 furlongs at Cork last time out. Her only previously try at a mile came on heavy ground on her second career start, so can be readily dismissed, and this kind of race could be well within her capabilities.
Brazen Bolt comes into this basement grade contest looking as though a first win is imminent on his ninth career start and if Oisin Murphy can get him to settle through the first quarter mile, then that maiden tag could readily be binned in this 7-furlong event.
If the prices are right, I may well have a saver on the John Quinn-trained gelding. Meanwhile, course and distance winner Salam Ya Faisal will have no excuses from a fair draw in six to get into a prominent position early on. There is certainly nothing wrong with his handicap mark and this race will not take an awful lot of winning.
But, the value call here could come in the form of POWER ON, at a nice each-way price. It is always dangerous to side with a horse that made late headway on its latest run and think that it was unlucky not to do an awful lot beter. That is exactly what happened with the selection at Wolverhampton, but in addition to that observation he also lost a shoe.
Only one from 15 in his career, he has to be put to sleep in midfield in order to show his best form and will always be a hostage to luck in the closing stages. But, as a regular in Class Five events, this looks a cracking opportunity if the gaps open up down the wide home straight.
Out of Breath is seeking an amazing six-timer, but having only gone up from a mark of 56 to 64 during that winning run (wonderfully placed by Grant Tuer), he is still feasibly handicapped for this staying event. However, this represents another step up the class ladder and his run could come to an end courtesy of the selection.
FLINT HILL doesn’t always look in love with the game. But, he did nothing wrong when a course and distance winner off 66 in arguably a better race two outings back, and then under a small penalty ran well behind Goobinator at York.
The return to Ponte and the stiffer finish should suit him in a better light. The five-year-old may still have enough in hand off his current handicap mark to see off the one-paced bottom weight Retrospect and fellow course winner Arebescato.
This may only be a low-grade classified stakes event, but it is none the less intriguing with several in with a chance on their best form, if they get the run of the race.
Despite the small field, I believe we are near enough guaranteed a well-run race (famous last words) with the likes of Milldean Felix, Thunder Flash and Perfect Outing likely to be at the sharp end from the flag fall. That could and should play into the hands of the FURY, who unlike the opposition remains relatively unexposed with just the six runs under his belt.
His best performance to date came last time out over the course and distance when a never nearer third behind Bonnie Lad in a slightly better contest than this. Oisin Murphy takes over in the saddle and I expect that the champion jockey will lock him at the rear of the field before making his move turning out of the back straight off, hopefully, a decent gallop.
True Mason takes a drop in class here and would be a big player even off topweight were the M62 track get a lick of rain to take the sting out of the ground. Lezardrieux normally comes alive here, with form figures of 1246, and a repeat of his pressing sixth of 10 (beaten a shade under 6 lengths by Music Society in June) would be good enough to put him in the mix as the handicapper steadily relaxes his grip.
But, off a significantly reduced mark – mainly due to the 7lbs claim of Oisin McSweeney – Kevin Ryan’s charge COTTAM LANE could be the answer to this sprinting conundrum.
Only one from seven in his career to date, the youngster wasn’t suited to the sharp track and dead ground at Catterick last time out. The key to his form chance is in his cracking run behind Mr Wagyu (big race winner at Goodwood since then) when he was only 2-and-a-half lengths off that red-hot in-form sprinter at York in a better race than this.
It is also worth noting that the selection has only had the opportunity to run on fast ground once in his career to date. I’m not sure if that is a conscious decision by his shrewd trainer, when he was ridden too positively at Thirsk.
This uphill finish should play to his strengths, and he looks a solid each-way play to close down his rivals off a career low mark and hit the frame at the very least.
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MORE SUNDAY HORSE RACING TIPS
- PONTEFRACT TIPS: Timeform take us through the card
- FRENCH FANCIES: Our 4 to score at Deauville today
- LE CRUNCH: Ruby Walsh and Matt Chapman’s top picks for Deauville’s big one at 14.50
- IRISH VIEW: Our 5 cracking plays for Sunday’s meetings
- NAP OF THE DAY: Today’s NAPs table of horse racing tips in the UK & Ireland