Placepot carnage in the first race at Southwell yesterday, but we escaped it with 14/1 second, Rock Of Ages; and we went on to finish the job for 60p of the £266.30 dividend using the ticket builder. That was worth £159.78 for an admittedly fairly chunky £57.60 stake.
We'll sit tight until this evening today, and have a crack at a challenging-looking Sandown card, which starts at 6.15.
Leg 1: 6.15 - If they have five furlong sprint races, which are run on a chute in the middle of the course, then they tend to be the first races on the card. And so it is tonight, with the first two contests featuring nags hurtling down there far from the madding crowds. On decent ground, low draws have typically been favoured, especially if the owner of said low draw has a decent bit of early toe.
It all starts with a two year old maiden and there are reasons to oppose a number of the market leaders, with the exception of probable jolly, Rising Dawn. He's drawn three and, if bouncing out, could prove hard to catch for unstoppable juvenile freight train that is the Hannon-Hughes axis. I'll make him sole A material and add in some B spice in search of a boilover.
Plenty of these have had a fair few chances already, and a Sandown maiden isn't normally an easy race to win. I was really taken with the way Mark Usher's Miracle Of Medinah rallied in the second half of his career debut, having been tailed off at the start. It was some sort of miracle that he actually passed a rival there, and he's sure to be a good bit sharper here. But his future probably lies in nurseries.
Urban Dreamer is badly drawn but was fifth in a Listed contest last time, and second twice before that. He's a possible for the frame and makes B. I'm fielding against Inciting Incident and Sartori, neither of which have progressed in their latest starts.
Blurred Vision represents a trainer whose juvenile debutants have placed in less than 10% of their 125 runs over the past decade, and those are not figures I like for a horse at a single digit price. On the other hand, Honey Meadow improved from her first to second starts, and this lass has been given a few weeks off after those close-together runs, presumably to recover and strengthen up a bit. I'd say she has a chance under a strong jockey. B.
I've left out three of the first five in the betting here, so this could easily be an early bath, but you have to take a view when playing the placepot!
A - 1 (Rising Dawn)
B - 5 (Urban Dreamer), 10 (Honey Meadow)
Leg 2: 6.50 - A much bigger field of experienced handicappers here, over the same five-eighths of a mile trip. In really big fields here, both high and low tend to be favoured, so I'll split my interest accordingly.
On the high side, I like Taurus Twins. This chap has won seven races, six of them over five furlongs, and three on good to firm. He's no problems with class, and is four pounds below his last winning handicap mark. This seems to be his time of year too, with a win in early June in both 2011 and 2012, and Tom Queally has ridden him to win before. Big fields are no problem to this fellow either. 20/1 looks decent value.
On the low side, I'll take Luke Dace's Alnoomaas. I'm a fan of the trainer for a start, and this chap has bags of early speed, but has just been failing to get home over six. With a rail draw, if he breaks well, he'll not be stopping at the end and he's still quite unexposed on turf (just as well as he doesn't have much form there!). Again, 20/1 looks reasonable.
Obviously, with two 20/1 shots in my corner, I need to firm up with a couple of more fancied beasts, and Asian Trader, drawn two, fits the bill. He's trained by Willie Haggas, and ridden by Frankie Dettori, still seeking that first winner back. Gladiatrix has won all ground, and seems to travel well in her races. She might make the frame too. And finally, in a race where I'm mob-handed, Hughesie is on board Rebecca Romero, who has been knocking on the door of late.
A - 4 (Gladiatrix), 7 (Taurus Twins), 11 (Rebecca Romero), 12 (Alnoomaas), 13 (Asian Trader)
Leg 3: 7.25 - Another wide open handicap, and I need to tighten my belt after gorging my ticket in the last leg!
First Post has an excellent record around here, and is in the right grade. He's back to his last winning mark tonight, and Dane O'Neill will give him every chance. Volcanic Wind drops in class having run very well in a better race last time, and he ought to go close, and Roserrow is closely matched on that run too.
A - 4 (Volcanic Wind)
B - 1 (Roserrow), 8 (First Post)
Leg 4: 7.55 - A three-year-old handicap. My favourite! (Not). Seven furlongs and nine go to post. Altharoos has been all the rage for Sir Michael Stoute's team, and I'm not smart enough to oppose him. Banker (and hope).
A - 10 (Altharoos)
Leg 5: 8.30 - Good grief. Just when you thought it could get any harder, a massive field maiden where they bet 5/1 anything you like!
Thomas Hobson, Lemon Pearl and perhaps Testudo are the three with experience for me. And I'm interested in the chances of A-List stable newcomers, Dambuster and Al Guwair. Not scientific, on the basis that in a race like this it can't be!
A - 13 (Testudo), 14 (Thomas Hobson), 16 (Lemon Pearl)
B - 2 (Al Guwair), 4 (Dambuster)
Leg 6: 9.00 - Badly short-stacked in the last then, I will side desperately with the form of Cashpoint and the money behind Scottish Star.
A - 2 (Scottish Star), 7 (Cashpoint)
That leaves us looking like this:
Just A's - 1 x 5 x 1 x 1 x 3 x 2 = 30 bets
All picks - 3 x 5 x 3 x 1 x 5 x 2 = 450 bets
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