PONTEFRACT have produced an interesting card (instead of the usual Sunday dross) and the mile maiden caught my eye as the medium for a solid each-way bet.
Saeed bin Suroor saddles hot favourite Glassy Waters, placed on both starts, but his colt has looked a right squib under pressure, holding his head high and hanging. I'm a bit surprised they haven't experimented with some kind of headgear.
Maybe these wayward traits can be put down to greenness and we could well see a different horse turning up today. However, he's the type of 11-10 shot I'd always be looking to oppose and there are a couple of alternative candidates.
ASCOT WEEK (5.10) has his first run for John Quinn since leaving Owen Burrows on the back of a third place behind Helovaplan and Komono at Doncaster in June. He races here off an official rating of 80 which sets the bar at a reasonable, if hardly insurmountable, height. It usually takes a horse rated in the low 80s or higher to win an average maiden, so Ascot Week looks sure to be thereabouts, especially if Glassy Waters doesn't step up to the plate.
Unless there is money for Mark Johnston's newcomer Morning Chimes, then the other horse to consider is Caravela, third on his debut for Mick Channon. He could also be punted each way but Ascot Week was trading at 9-2 last night and that looks very fair.
It is always important to monitor betting activity on Betfair to see where the clever cash is going. For example, last week I put up Sleep Easy at Chepstow but it drifted from an early morning 5-1 out to more than 20s before the off on Betfair, so I knew my fate before the stalls even opened. Especially so, as Sleep Easy is owned by Tony Bloom, the money-man behind Brighton FC and one of the shrewdest and most venerable gamblers in the business. There will be another day for Sleep Easy.
Hopefully, EAGLE CREEK (4.35) won't be a significant drifter on the exchanges as he looks a good bet in the mile handicap.
Simon Crisford's gelding won his maiden at Lingfield by six lengths in April but hasn't been seen since flopping the following month.
Eagle Creek beat only one horse home that day at Newmarket but reportedly ripped off a shoe, sustaining a cut in the process.
This isn't the strongest of contests. Keith Dalgleish's Lomu has won three of his four career starts, the latest coming at Ayr. The horse he edged out was Navarone, but Richard Fahey's runner-up finished last of eight at Chester on his final start.
There are several stayers in with a shout in the 2m 1f handicap and that includes LA FRITILLAIRE (3.25).
The mare has a winning record around Pontefract and also scored at Ripon earlier in the season. She is pretty versatile ground-wise and ran a fine second to front-running Akavit in a Class 4 contest here over 2m 2f in June, trapped quite wide throughout. Odds of around 7-1 represent good ew value.
Hold-up performer Wordiness was put up in this column at Wolverhampton last week but my worst fears about a lack of pace were painfully realised. The nine-year-old will get a quicker gallop to attack today and definitely enters calculations.
Pontefract 5.10 – Ascot Week ew 9-2 Paddy Power
Pontefract 4.35 – Eagle Creek 2-1 Stan James
Pontefract 3.25 – La Fritillaire ew 7-1 Coral