We kick off with the usual far over this weekend from Doncaster in the form of a big runner handicap. Unlike yesterdays showpiece race this one is run over a furlong shorter (7 furlongs).
Although it isn’t obviously essential I always feel course form at Doncaster is a massive advantage and I’m siding with one of only three previous course winners.
The favourite Jan Van Hoof is burdened with top weight and although it has decent form on paper I just couldn’t side with it at all. It has quite a bit to overcome, especially with a field as large as this and although Richard Fahey is one of the best trainers in the country I’m not overly convinced he’ll have this one ready as it may need the run.
A horse that isn’t the most consistent but may surprise a few is Red Tycoon, a decent enough second placed finish when last seen on turf was encouraging and it may squeak a place.
The horse I’ve gone with however is the David O’Meara trained five year old Intisaab. A course and distance winner who was disappointing in this race last year but has gone well on firm and heavy going. Now sat at a decent handicap mark it may have enough to trouble the main protagonists at a decent price.
As with all three of todays picks we stick with another big runner handicap in Yorkshire. This time we see a few sprinters hit six furlongs where the top seven in the betting are separated by just three points. Of the three joint favourites; Ballymore Catle, New Bidder and Flowers On Venus it has to be the David Barron trained runner New Bidder that poses the biggest threat to my selection. A former course and distance winner who will enjoy the cut in the ground and with the horse ticking an abundance of boxes it has to be respected I only hope that being drawn in stall one may be a slight hinderance.
Bottom weight Tiger Jim may have a slight chance as it seems to enjoy running here but I fear its lack of positive runs on softer going could be its undoing.
The horse I am plumping for is Dean Ivory’s four year old Stake Acclaim. The horse has keeping its fitness up with three runs on the all-weather. All of them were disappointing but I know it’ll still have a fitness edge over most of its opposition here. It’s only run on soft going was a winning one, coincidentally over course and distance. A low weight will obviously aid the horses chances and experienced jockey Robert Winston is booked for the ride.
An outsider that may be worth a mention hails from the yard of last years Brocklesby winner as Scott Dixon sends the ultra consistent Cross Fire who’s form at Southwell may be an indicator that it shouldn’t be too disheartened by soft going.
Stake Acclaim (E/W)
Todays third and final selection follows suite with the other two as we stay at “Donny” for the penultimate race on the card.
We have a very short priced favourite in the form of Treasury Notes who hails from local trainer David O’Meara. It’s second placed finish at Redcar recently should put the horse right in the mix but 4/1 is far too short for it to be a realistic betting prospect in such a race.
Unlike the previous two races I have covered today there are no former course winners that lineup but another thing worth noting is how soft it was here yesterday and a horse that can act on the going is a huge plus.
I’ve narrowed the twenty runner field down to three that I feel have a great chance.
The more obvious one of the trio is More Mischief who, at the age of four, may have improvement to come and with the added bonus of Graham Lee mounting the top weight it has to be taken seriously. I fear however that carrying top weight is going to be too much of a burden.
Contrasting to the top weight the other horse that looks mightily overpriced is bottom weight Scrutiny who has won four of its five races when racing on soft ground. The horse has been very consistent and should be fitter than most after a few disappointing spins over hurdles in the winter. My slight concern however is that it tends not to go well first time out but I’m hoping the national hunt races will have taken the edge off any fitness concerns.
One horse that also has a good record on soft conditions is the selection Gworn. A horse that has dropped markedly since its highest mark of 90. The horse has gone well first time out before and the trainer has bagged a few decent efforts from his yard recently so the stable should be in relatively good form. Will need a few things to fall right but stall nine isn’t bad and shouldn’t be stuck out wide unlike the favourite could possibly be.