Our racing expert is particularly sweet on the chances of a couple of sprinters at Nottingham.
It’s a new dawn at Newcastle as the track is racing on its new Tapeta surface for the first time and it has proved an instant hit with trainers as there are at least 12 runners in each of the eight races. They are all tricky contests to assess, though, and I’d prefer to do my punting elsewhere.
First call is Nottingham where it could be worth giving the Charlie Fellowes-trained ZAIN EMPEROR another chance when he runs in the 6f handicap (due off 2.45pm). I put him up as a bet at Pontefract last time following an eye-catching reappearance run at Kempton where he found only the well regarded Viscount Bardfield a neck too good, but the ground went against him after some rain on the morning of the race and he trailed home a well beaten sixth.
Fellowes was left ruing the decision to travel up with the gelding from his Suffolk base as the official going wasn’t changed to ‘good to soft’ until after the first race – I doubt he will be visiting Pontefract again in a hurry! But he needn’t have any such concerns this afternoon as the terrain is on the fast side (they’re calling it ‘good to firm’ with no rain forecast) and his well-handicapped three-year-old can relinquish his maiden tag by beating ten rivals.
The Kevin Ryan-trained LAUGHTON did me a good turn when winning on his final juvenile start at Musselburgh last September and he looks sure to win more races as a three-year-old. Ryan’s comments in a recent Stable Tour provide plenty of encouragement for that. He said: “He’s done particularly well over the winter, physically he’s come on from two to three. He’s on a mark of 71 and hopefully he can go on to prove better than that.”
That wasn’t immediately apparent on his reappearance run at Beverley where he could only manage seventh of the 12 runners, after being sent off favourite. However, there were excuses as he didn’t have a great draw and was caught out wide, while the rain-softened ground may not have been to his liking either. With neither the draw (much less of a factor here) or the ground (‘good to firm’) to worry about in this afternoon’s second division of the 6f handicap (3.15pm), he could leave that form well behind under Jamie Spencer.
Flat racing at Wetherby has been a huge success and the track stages a competitive card this evening, with a couple of big-priced runners taking the eye. Ann Duffield has been doing well with her juvenile runners on turf, with three individual winners from just 11 runners, including debutant Cuppacoffee at Ripon on Sunday, and her BELLE’S ANGEL might be sharp enough to land the 5f maiden auction stakes (6.10pm) at the first time of asking, especially if the market speaks in her favour.
Suffolk-based trainer James Tate is paying his first visit to the West Yorkshire track and with just one runner, BAHAMIAN DOLLAR, who contests the closing 7f maiden auction stakes for three-year-olds (8.40pm). That might be a tip in itself and what is more to like is the stable form, with five winners from just 18 runners (28%) on turf in 2016, to go with 14 all-weather winners, and four have come in the last 10 days. Clearly, the stable is flying and the son of Bahamian Bounty wouldn’t have to be a world-beater to take a hand in this modest contest.