Our racing expert likes the look of three Salisbury runners.
We’ve a midweek treat at Salisbury as the track is staging the Group 3 Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes over 6f, which has been won by smart types in the past.
Nine are set to go to post at the time of writing and none make more appeal than Andrew Balding’s FIRELIGHT, who would have finished closer than fourth in the Group 2 Lowther last time out had things worked out better for her.
A winner of back-to-back races at Kempton and Newmarket previously, she looked to be travelling well in behind on the Knavesmire only to find herself short of room over a furlong out, causing Oisin Murphy to switch her markedly left. By the time she got into the clear the leading pair had kicked on, so it was to her credit she finished just two lengths behind the winner Fairyland.
She’s in next month’s Group 1 Cheveley Park and while that promises to be a hot contest, this assignment looks well within her compass with none of her rivals able to match her form. The red-hot form of her stable – 16-55 (29%) in the last fortnight – is another positive and seals the bet.
With Balding sending out plenty of winners, it could be worth forgiving his POET’S VANITY a tame effort when fancied at Newmarket last time out. Ryan Moore reported afterwards that she had got upset in the stalls, which provides an excuse, and she’s had a nice break since then.
Previously, she had shown plenty of zest when runner-up in a Haydock conditions stakes over this trip and while both her wins as a juvenile came over 7f, including a maiden at this track by ten lengths, she’s clearly not short of speed.
She’s also been shown some leniency by the handicapper, who has dropped her to a mark of 90 from a peak of 104, and this looks a good opportunity for her to take advantage with Murphy (2-3 on her) taking the reigns for the first time this season.
Richard Hannon is another trainer firing on all cylinders and that bodes well for his WICKED SEA in the opening apprentice handicap, a race the stable has won twice in recent times from just four runners (the other two finished third).
The selection also has strong form claims in her favour as she is returning to the scene of her six lengths course and distance success in June on similar ground to today’s.
She paid the price for that romp by going up 7lb and has struggled a bit since, albeit she has been running over 6f the last twice and was short of a turn of foot when third here two starts back.
In which case, she’s going to appreciate stepping back up to a mile and while her regular partner Seamus Cronin is unable to use his claim, he has experience on his side and clearly gets on well with the filly.
All odds were correct at time of posting.