Champions Day signals the beginning of the end of the 2019 flat season and attention will soon turn to the winter game. Over the weekend there was the first “mini-gamble” on Colin Tizzard’s Slate House for next month’s BetVictor Gold Cup. The second season chaser fits most profiles for the iconic race, and he is 16s from 33/1 with the sponsors for the feature race of Cheltenham’s November meeting.
The listed Silver Tankard Stakes is today’s feature race at Pontefract and there is plenty of pace in the race which might suit Ralph Beckett’s Wycliff (3.50) who has been slowly away in all three of his starts but has won two of those races over 7f. He has given every indication that the step up to a mile will suit.
Sod’s Law was a winner on good to soft ground over a mile here 12 months ago from a 3lb higher mark and Hughie Morrison’s 4-year-old returned to something like his best when finishing second at Nottingham last time. He has every chance, but I’m not convinced a stiff 10f really suits and preference is for the 3-year-old Bo Samraan (3.20) who looks sure to go well from the front.
The selection, who remains a maiden after eight career starts, is a brother or half-brother to six previous winners and I hope Joe Fanning can get him into a good position from what looks a decent draw in stall four.
Swift Wing (4,20) is visored for the first time in the mile-and-half-maiden for John Gosden and the hope is that the headgear can work the oracle for this son of Pivotal who should be at home on the forecast soft ground.
Fun Mac will enjoy conditions and the extreme test of stamina in the two-and-a-quarter mile handicap, but I feel Arrowtown (4.50) can return to winning ways for Mick Easterby. The mare was doing all her best work at the end when a close fourth at York over 2m last time. Graham Lee takes over in the saddle this afternoon.
Stallone was all out to score at Yarmouth over 7f last week and he must overcome a 6lbs penalty stepped up to a mile at Windsor this afternoon. Espresso Freddo (4.30) has been in good form on soft ground of late and he gets the each way vote in the mile handicap although I wouldn’t want him to be too far back from his draw in stall one.
Nico de Boinville was in Grand National winning action in America aboard Nicky Henderson’s Brain Power on Saturday evening, but the race was overshadowed by the fatal injury suffered by Willie Mullins’ 10-y-old Wicklow Brave who fell at the last with the race, seemingly, at his mercy.
De Boinville rides Legal Eyes (3.40) for Ben Pauling on his seasonal and chase debut at Plumpton this afternoon. The trainer has made a slow start to the campaign, but this is an inmate who I always felt could improve for the switch to the larger obstacles. The 6-y-old wears a first-time tongue-tie today.
Agent Westy (2.40) has been raised 8lbs for winning at Fontwell last time on ground that was slower than the official description of good. His fencing was a bit novicey in the early stages but improved as the race wore on and he is taken to follow up for Evan Williams.
At Southwell this evening Finery (6.00) was well held on debut but stayed on well enough to finish runner up at Newcastle giving every indication she would appreciate the step up to a mile. If she takes to fibresand she will be very tough to beat.