Our racing expert is hoping to get the week off to a flyer with a trio of fancies.
Mark Johnston has a nice crop of early two-year-olds for 2016 with 18 juvenile wins already on the board at a strike rate of 20%, and he looks to have found a good opportunity for TEOFONIC to get off the mark at the second time of asking in the opening novice auction fillies’ stakes at Pontefract (due off 6.45pm).
The daughter of Teofilo was easy to back on her racecourse debut over 6f at Hamilton and ran pretty much as the market predicted, finishing fourth of the ten runners. However, having shown signs of greenness and getting outpaced three furlongs out, she really picked up the bit and nothing was finishing better than her at the finish. A half-sister to six winners and an Italian Oaks second, she looks to have inherited some of her siblings’ talent and the stiffer uphill finish at this track will suit her.
Snuggy is perhaps the most interesting newcomer and should be watched closely in the market, but experience counts for plenty in these races and that gives the selection an edge.
Several of the runners in the 6f handicap (7.45pm) are open to improvement and they include Charlie Hills’ Aleef, an all-weather maiden winner last time who is having just his third start. He has to be seriously considered but the handicapper hasn’t taken any chances in allotting him an opening mark of 84, and the bookies are hardly being generous either in offering him at just 3/1.
Let’s take him on with the Kevin Ryan-trained DUTCH MIST, who can be backed at a far more generous 16/1. She’s that price as she has not finished nearer than sixth in three starts this term, but she was noted making late headway when eighth (of 17) at Doncaster on her reappearance and paid the price for sitting too close to a hot pace at Chester last time. Tried in Group/Listed company at two after winning three of her first four starts, she clearly has ability and we could well see more of it this afternoon given she is lining up off a career-low mark and is being fitted with blinkers for the first time.
The all-aged 6f handicap run later on the card (8.45pm) has attracted the biggest field of the evening with 16 set to go post. Providing there are no withdrawals, we have four places to aim at for each-way purposes and the Jeremy Gask-trained GEOFF POTTS looks to have every chance of filling one of them, with the real possibility he can hit the jackpot and land us a nice 9/1 payout.
The son of Zebedee has hinted at ability in three runs over this trip in maiden company, finishing fourth at Sandown on his racecourse debut last September and filling the same spot at Lingfield on his reappearance, which would have been needed. The handicapper has allotted him an opening mark of 70 based on those runs and he’s surely capable of bettering that in time. Noted making good late headway last time, this stiff 6f should suit him and we can also take plenty of encouragement from the form of his stable, with Gask’s six last runners yielding a couple of winners (one at 25/1) and a second.