Our racing expert marks your card for Monday's action.
You don’t see many Derby entrants running in nursery handicaps at Pontefract, so Ed Dunlop’s CRYSTAL DOME is interesting on that score alone.
A glance at his form really gets the punting juices flowing as he’s been doing well since getting a mark, winning on his handicap debut at Redcar over today’s trip of a mile and then looking a shade unlucky when fourth at Newcastle last time. Travelling well in behind the leaders, he got stuck behind horses and his attempt to go through a gap backfired when it closed, causing him to be snatched up. To say he would have won is stretching it but it definitely cost him second and he could gain some compensation here off the same mark and from what looks a good draw in stall three.
Mick Appleby’s CLASSIC VILLAGER has been dropped a few pounds by the handicapper and that has allowed him to get into this afternoon’s 1m2f handicap (a 0-85 class 4) off top weight. That’s significant as he showed what he could do at this level when rattling off a hat-trick last summer and he’s now just 2lb higher than for the last of those wins. That was over 1m4f but he’s won over today’s shorter trip and handles ground with cut in it, so everything is in place for a big run. His trainer said in a Stable Tour back in September that he had high hopes for him and we might find out why today.
The 1m4f maiden on the card features some stoutly-bred types trained by the likes of John Gosden and Saeed bin Suroor. Their representatives dominate the market and understandably so, but the dual purpose yard of Alexandra Dunn fields an interesting flat debutant in SEVEN NATION ARMY (NON-RUNNER). Formerly with David Pipe, who trained him to win a couple of bumpers, he ran some solid races over hurdles for Tom George and then Henry De Bromhead in Ireland without winning, before running down the field on his chase debut last month. Now with Dunn, who has been in good form of late and has shown a knack for improving other trainer’s cast-offs, he should be placed to advantage before too long (add him to your tracker) and might muscle his way into the frame here at big odds.
The closing 5f handicap looks tricky but I can’t resist an each-way stab at Richard Fahey’s ARCTIC FEELING as he has his conditions and is well handicapped to boot. The last time he ran on ‘soft’ (at Beverley in April) he won off a 9lb higher mark than today’s and his best effort since was also on ground with plenty of dig in it, a sixth (of 21) over the minimum at Ayr. He was noted keeping on strongly on that occasion and this stiffer 5f is absolutely ideal for the eight-year-old, who will have the assistance of talented 5lb claimer Adam McNamara. His draw in stall 12 (of 15) could be better, admittedly, but there are ticks in plenty of other boxes and we get to back him at tasty odds as way of compensation.
Pontefract 2.10, Crystal Dome @ 13/2 bet365 – LOST
Pontefract 4.10, Seven Nation Army each-way @ 25/1 bet365 (1/5 odds, 1.2.3) – NON-RUNNER
Pontefract 5.10, Classic Villager each-way @ 14/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3) – LOST
Pontefract 5.40, Arctic Feeling each-way @ 11/1 Betfair (1/4 odds, 1.2.3) – LOST