First day at the races since the Lincoln meeting for me tomorrow due to abandonments and a short holiday, looking forward to the day at my local. I’ve missed the first two meetings, one was called off and the other took place last week while I was away, they are two of my favourite meetings of the entire year, so it was disappointing but lets hope tomorrow makes up for it. May is my favourite racing month of the year, there’s a ton of things going off, some great meetings and important pointers for the future.
Onto the meeting at Ponte anyway….
For me a lot of this race focuses around the horse at the bottom Skeetah and whether or not she turns up. It’s a tough ask to run twice in two days for her first two runs, but if she does take her chance then should would go very close if reproducing Tuesday’s effort. However, whether she does or doesnt run it is the top horse Azor Ahai that is the one for me. Game Of Thrones fans will love the name, but regardless of that, there was a lot to like about this horses’s debut run. He took time to get going that day, unlike some of his trainer’s other two year olds, so is sure to benefit from that run. Ponte is not the easiest place to make your debut, and I think he can use his experience to his advantage and take this.
There are a few nice looking types on paper making their debuts here, so this is certainly a race worth watching again to see if anything catches the eye. Pontefract is a tough place to start life as a two year old newcomer, and offers a good test so those who run well here will be of interest elsewhere on their second runs.
I won’t be heavily involved but Azor Ahai looks to be a bet at 7/2.
If there is one star in this race then it is highly likely that is Allieyf from the William Haggas yard. He showed plenty of promise on debut last season and assuming he has come on a lot for that run, he could be well ahead of his rivals here and could go on to have a very successful campaign. He is certainly one to watch here, and there is every chance he puts up a performance that makes him worth following through the season. However, from a betting point of view, taking odds on about a horse we are grading on what he potentially could be is not for me so I’ll be looking elsehwere. The Kevin Ryan trained Kings Full has shown promise on two starts and this test looks sure to play into his strengths. He has the slight fitness edge over his two main rivals after running on the all-weather in February behind Gronkwoski, a hose that now competes at the top level. He isn’t a strong fancy, but to upset the odds he would be worthy of consideration at 4/1.
This looks a strange handicap to try and solve, with plenty of horses in with a chance if they can find their best efforts. Not many have shown that recently though, but one of them that has shown something is Vigee Le Brun for the David O’Meara yard. She ran well to finish third at Beverley last week when she nearly made all and I can see her getting an uncontested lead here today, which could be the difference maker. She has previously ran well in cheekpieces but tries a visor today, and if she takes to that then she looks to have a great chance. There doesn’t appear to be much pace in the race and if she gets out in front as I am hoping that she will, then if Danny Tudhope can kick on coming into the home straight, she may be away and gone before the others realise. She is 5/2 as I am typing this, and is the bet of the day at Pontefract for me.
This looks to be as tough as it gets for punters, I know a lot of people love getting stuck into these big field handicaps, but I always seem to struggle to find the time to do so myself. I’ll not be having a serious bet in this, but have picked out a couple of pokes to throw out there.
I really like Trinity Star, but don’t think that today will be the day. He ran nicely here to end his season and showed that there is another race to be won with him. The positives for him are that he likes this track and has an eye catching jockey booking in Paul Hanagan, while the negatives are that he isn’t always at his best first time up, and he has a terrible draw. He is one to watch in this race, even if today isn’t his day, I’m keen on him for the future if he shows us something.
The other dart is Mutarakez for Ruth Carr, a horse that looks like a winner waiting to happen. Ruth does well with cast offs from other yards, and this horse looks set to be another winner for her in the near future. He was second last time out behind Lamloom and gets a 4lb pull with that rival. Couple that with his good draw and I think he looks sure to go close. His last win came off a mark of 95, today he runs off just 79 so is clearly well handicapped and ready to strike.
Trinity Star is 16/1 and Mutarakez is 15/2, so they will form my duo against the field.
Another tricky handicap to solve here, with many again in with chances. There are a few Ponte favourites in this one, notably Mr Orange, Van Gerwen and Cosmic Chatter. After winning at Thirsk nicely just over a week ago, Mr Orange is sure to be popular but behind him that day was Cosmic Chatter, who I am hoping can bounce back with a return to Pontefract. He won easy over C&D last summer, and is now on a 3lb lower mark than that run, so is clearly handicapped to challenge if he can find his spark. At 16/1 he is worth a speculative each way punt in the hope that a return to this course brings out the best in him. Elsewhere, Short Work ticks a lot of the boxes and at a double figure price he also looks to be an interesting runner if coming on for his recent disappointment at Ripon. I’ll be leaving him today, but keeping my eye on him to see if he offers any encouraging signs that make me want to back him next time up.
Probably the last race I’ll watch to save any hassle at home, and one in which I really like Northern Angel. She ran two very nice races last season on turf and I am happy to excuse her run this season, which was over 7f and on the all-weather, both of which looked to be against her. The return to sprinting on turf will help her out a lot and I also think she could get out in front and leave her rivals for dead. She is drawn nicely in two and has been prominently ridden in all three starts so far, Pontefract is a good place for front runners and it wouldn’t surprise me if they tried to bag the rail and make all on her The Right Choice looks to be an obvious danger, but Northern Angel is nicely drawn for her running style and I am backing her to make all at 7/2 to hopefully round my day off nicely.
I’ve not looked at the last race too much, but Foxtrot Knight does appear to be on a winning mark. However, backing a horse that needs holding up in a 5f apprentice race around a track that suits front runners is not for me at all, so I’d be looking to oppoe based on that. It will be interesting to see if any money comes for Barron’s Lad, who is seen for the first time in over a year, is having his first run in the UK since moving from Ireland and is with a new trainer in Adrian Nicholls. The booking of Ben Sanderson catches my eye, and if he holds his place in the market he looks to be worth a crack here against the favourtie. He is currently 7/1 and is one to watch in the market.