It's been a frustrating week, with the placepotting equivalent of treading water for the most part. After yesterday's small loss, and in a bid to break the cycle, I'm going to have a crack at TWO placepots this afternoon: at Ayr and Newbury. Hopefully one or both will produce the tasty payoff we're looking for...
Here's yesterday's frustrating effort - all A horses, meaning ticket 1 was the only one to be cashed. Click the image to enlarge it.
So to today, and Ayr and Newbury. Ayr first...
The opener at 2.10 is a race that Michael Dods has targeted, winning it in 2008 and 2010 and finishing second in one of the divisions in 2009. He runs Star City this time, and must have a great chance. He's a A horse for the 'pot.
Richard Fahey saddles up Double Cee, whose last run is best forgotten. A repeat of his debut effort will see him in the mix, and he's also included as an A. Whilst I'd be disappointed not to get through with either of those, I'm going to save a little for a B selection in the shape of Trail Blaze, from the Kevin Ryan. At least one of that trio ought to be placed.
Fahey had a short priced winner in the second race, a 6f nursery, last year, and he's got strong prospects of repeating the dose this time around, with Trumpet Volunteer. A material, though not banker material. Down at the bottom, the same trainer's other runner, Pen Bal Crag has had a break after running no sort of race at Hamilton at the end of July. It's possible he needed the rest, and his earlier form gives him fine prospects from the bottom of the handicap.
But I'm siding with Deepsand as my other A arrow here. Two runs on softish ground have yielded a debut second and a comfortable win last time. There's certain to be more to come, and he'll be at least competitive here.
The third race is another of those huge field five furlong sprints, and I'm majoring with low drawn, but will include at least one each in the Â middle and high drawn sections.
Fol Hollow doesn't mind it soft, and his trainer - Dandy Nicholls - is the man with sprinters. He's drawn 4, and makes the cut despite being the complete outsider of the field. So too does Thats A Fret, Â who won a Â£30,000 handicap in Ireland this time last year, and this Irish raider looks jobbed up from his low boxing.
Finally on the low side, Sleepy Blue Ocean finds it tough to win, but he's been running with real credit on soft ground this backend, and he again has place chances at least.
On the high side, last year's winning trainer, Tim Easterby, runs The Nifty Fox, who won't mind the underfoot one bit. Drawn 20, he's close enough to the rail, if good enough, and was 5th in this two years ago.
From the middle I'm taking Rothesay Chancer, in the 14 box. He's a five furlong specialist who has recently been campaigned over six, and will relish the return to the minimum. Good to soft is fine, and if the draw doesn't compromise his chance, he ought to go close.
Four from twenty-three is not a lot of cover, and in truth I'm prepared to take a chance in this race, as for various reasons I'm struggling to narrow the remainder down any. Hope to get through playing the quartet as A's.
The 27 runner Ayr Bronze Cup follows over six furlongs and, for those still going, the prayer mats will be out once more! And, although this is over a furlong further, the same principles of loading - but still spreading - the draw bias apply.
In plain English, I'm siding mainly with low, but will include at least a couple from elsewhere in the draw.
The high drawn representative is obvious: Layla's Hero almost always runs his race, and he's the 8/1 or so favourite here. He loves a true run six furlongs on softish ground and this looks perfect for him.
Trying to find a low drawn horse with prospects was very tricky, and more to ensure I have a low representative than any form fancy, I've included Coolminx from the Richard Fahey stable. The filly was sent off 6/1 favourite in this last year, before finishing mid-div, and ought to be suited by conditions today. Only good for B tickets though.
A fair few middle to high numbers with prospects and it's easy to see the race developing around those guys. The shortlist includes Another Citizen, Esprit de Midas, Jeannie Galloway, Karaka Jack, Klynch, River Falcon, and Zomerlust... and many more!
Ultimately, I like the consistency of Karaka Jack on my A slips; Esprit de Midas runs his best races on softer ground and is included too, on the B; Klynch can also run a big race on the B list; whilst the money for Another Citizen might be significant and he completes the A tickets.
So three A's, and three B's and limited confidence at best! Onwards and downwards...
Leg five is a Listed sprint for the babies, and with a non-runner already, we're down to eight. One more between now (7am as I write) and post time will lead to just two available places, so caution is the watchword.
Caledonia Lady is the short priced favourite and, whilst this six race maiden has been running in Group class, she has also been beaten at odds of 1/3 in a Ffos Las maiden race. She could win here, but I'm going to try to 'get' her. The obvious one against her is Ponty Acclaim, and this young lass is tough and consistent.
In between comfortable small field wins, she ran with credit in two big sales races and it's likely that she wouldn't have enjoyed the field sizes there. Back in a smaller field, I'm expecting a big run from Ponty Acclaim. A list banker.
It's impossible to ignore anything Richard Fahey runs at this meeting, and his Alejandro has the same comments applied as Ponty Acclaim: two small field wins separated by pleasing enough runs in big sales races. Those duck eggs will put placepot punters off, but not me. Onto the B tickets goes Alejandro (with a slight ground reservation).
Kool Henry was well beaten by Ponty Acclaim last time, but his best form is on softer than good, and he completes the B tickets as further ballast, should I be lucky enough to make it this far.
A two and a quarter mile handicap rounds out the placepot, with just the nine runners to aim at. Nevertheless, with seven of them priced at 8/1 or shorter, it's competitive enough!
Taikoo could take them along for a long way here and, if it is run at a crawl, may well stay on for a place. B tickets.
On the A list, I'm siding with two: Boss's Destination and Puy d'Arnac. I like the versatility of the latter and the potential improvement in the former. I feel that Bollin Judith would need a strong pace to put her best foot forward and she's reluctantly overlooked, as is John Forbes, who runs a lot of fine races.
A quick word for 13-yo Sphinx. He won this as a 10-yo, but surely his best days are a fading memory now?
Ayr's Friday tickets look like this:
Over to Newbury and, without providing chapter and verse, I'll be wagering like this:
2.00 A poor looking maiden for the track, and I take the best of those with form - Amphora and Marah Music - and newcomer, Lucky Henry.
2.35 4yo's have the best record here, so I'm siding there and adding in Stoute's lass as well. Alraabeya and License To Till on A, with Nazreef and Shallow Bay on B.
3.10 Fitness is taken on trust, but Godolphin's acquisition, Dubai Prince, ought to win if 'all there'. Kieren Fallon is a very noteworthy jockey booking, given that Dettori is at the meeting. A ticket bankerm with Jet Away and Penitent on the B tickets.
3.45 Harvard N Yale looks banker material as well, as it is hard to see him failing to place. If the first three races go well, I'll lay for a place as insurance.
4.20 A stronger division of the maiden, with Glen Moss setting the tone. He's included, but not on his own, as there are some reasonable looking types in here, the pick of whom is Accession. Double A's.
4.55 Revolves around My Queenie and, with two places, I'll include her but also look to take her on. She's on the A ticket, along with Hazel Lavery. B sees Sir Michael Stoute's newcomer, Dank, share the bill with Jim Boyle's last time out winner, What's Up.
And that's Newbury. A lot more straightforward looking than Ayr, but in those can often be real gems, when strong fancies bite the dust. Time will tell.