After the sad loss of another Cheltenham card, it could well have been the case that betting options were limited for us this week.
Luckily though, despite the heavy rain we have two value punts at Doncaster over the jumps and another pair of intriguing contenders to get stuck into on the all-weather down at Lingfield.
It’s hoped that some of the key races from Cheltenham’s Trials Day meeting can be salvaged yet as we look forward to the Festival, but our concern for now is making some profit and we begin our assault on the bookmakers at Doncaster.
2.05 Doncaster (Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – MARIE’S ROCK
Unfortunately, I’ve left myself rather hoping for Nico de Boinville to have a mixed day in Yorkshire. He is primarily on site to ride the brilliant Shiskin of course, but he also has two other potential favourites on the card for Nicky Henderson, including in this race.
Floressa is the mount of de Boinville, however I think her stablemate Marie’s Rock is better positioned to be able to take this Grade 2 event under James Bowen.
Both mares have good form and presumably the top jockey had the choice of them, however in simplifying matters regarding the pair it became apparent that a) Marie’s Rock’s best time figures and form have come in these conditions, Floressa’s have not, and b) our mare was 2/1 favourite to beat her pal last time.
True, she wasn’t great when the two last met, but Marie’s Rock was considered to be ahead of Floressa in the queue and one bad run shouldn’t change that so she is taken to exact some revenge in conditions she will definitely relish.
2.40 Doncaster (River Don Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – EMIR SACREE
We’re banking on Nicky Henderson having a great day at Doncaster, and this time on Nico de Boinville to get the job done up top.
Emir Sacree is an intriguing seven-year-old gelding. Reaching a decent level in France during 2018 and 2019, the bay had an injury which led to him having some time on the side lines.
Having moved to Henderson’s yard this winter, he now has the chance to fulfil his potential and a winning debut in an Ascot handicap certainly did plenty to show us all that he is heading the right way.
He made all that day over 2m5f but that was mostly due to the fact, I believe, that they knew he was a little too good for the field and so tactics aren’t a problem here if he finds himself back in the pack. The step up in trip is ideal, he has had enough recovery time and looks good to go again.
There are plenty of challengers in behind in what looks like a competitive race; Pats Fancy and Ashdown Lad probably leading the way in terms of those holding place chances.
2.55 Lingfield (Handicap) – RENARDEAU
This is a small but interesting mile-and-a-half handicap. The money in the build-up to the weekend has all come for Pirate King of Charlie Fellowes’ yard and while he has an obvious chance, he is very much too short to win this at around even-money.
His own form can’t be questioned. Pirate King’s record over this course and distance is 11123, that latest third coming after an awkward start so his credentials in the conditions are top-notch.
His handicap marks for those five races however were 80, 83, 87, 95 and 96 so it could also simply be that the assessor has now more or less caught up with him.
Either way, he is vulnerable here to one of the outsiders in the shape of Renardeau. Trained by Ali Stronge, the five-year-old is in good form after some placed finishes at Kempton but he did even better in the past on this surface.
PJ McDonald has been booked for this and one other ride on the card, and now there is every chance that a horse who is now back to his last winning mark (also over the same course and distance), has been priced incorrectly at around the 5/1 mark. Hydroplane is next on the list.
3.30 Lingfield (Handicap) – MASKED IDENTITY
We’re over the mile trip for this 0-95 handicap race, and at Lingfield that will put pace at quite a premium.
On the splits that would bring the overpriced Atheeb right into things here, but with pace and overall current ability taken into consideration the real value in the contest appears to be the ride of Josephine Gordon, Masked Identity.
Trained by Shaun Keightley, the six-year-old has been creeping right back up to his very best form of late in runs at Chelmsford and Wolverhampton.
At Wolverhampton on the Tapeta the extended one-mile trip was maybe a tad too testing, while the seven furlongs around Chelmsford was arguably too nippy which makes this the ideal race for him.
Beaten only a length last time in third place, Masked Identity was a little slowly away over the seven and better is expected this time which makes him look pretty good value in the market. Even if he doesn’t get the best break from stall 6, over this trip and in a small field he should have plenty of time to sort himself out and attack round the final bend.
Golden Force was the other horse that made the shortlist, while most of the money has been for Catch My Breath who is on a hat-trick over the track and trip, though he has been doing his winning against a lesser class of opposition and so this will be much tougher.