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Monday is never a striking day to rejoin placepot battle lines, and it may again be the case today. No matter, for where there are races, there are upset prospects, and we'll have some fun trying to spot the pretenders amongst the contenders. Enough with the pre-ramble, and on to Dunstall Park for a 2.15 start...
2.15 - Leg 1: This looks like a thoroughly uncompetitive opener and, while Trinity River has had a three tries now, and though none of them have been on the all weather, she still seems by far the most likely prospect. In a race where none of the four newcomers have taken support, Oakley Dancer may not be completely bereft of place prospects at 40/1 BOG, but it's Trinity River banker to get us going.
Those of a nervous disposition can place lay at around 1.08 to cover any accidents here.
A - 10 (Trinity River)
2.45 - Leg 2: This is much more like it. A seven runner claimer with a distinctly shaky look to the top end of the market. Highest rated, and short priced favourite, is Baytown Kestrel. But this 400 Guineas purchase looks a dodge to me. She ran a monstrous race first time up when winning at 50/1, and was unsurprisingly outclassed in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. Since then, she's finished second twice - the first time in a seller - and then fourth of seven last time.
As well as being eminently beatable, she is also rated six pounds higher on all weather than turf, which seems harsh on the balance of her form. What really puzzles me though is that firstly she was entered in a seller, and now she's in a claimer. That implies connections don't think she's that much cop, or may be regressive/an early season filly. That suspicion is further aroused by the notion that she can be claimed here for £12,000. This is the most weight she's carried and I wouldn't be sure she'd be up to lugging it either.
Basically, I think Baytown Kestrel is opposable at 6/4, and I'll be doing just that. But with what? Well, I'm taking two against her on A: Black Treacle and Limegrove. The former is trained by Wolves master, Keith Dalgleish, and has taken a bit of time to find his stride, both literally and metaphorically. But a win the last day after a slow start hinted at a fair bit more in the tank, and he might go well on the surface change too.
One that definitely will go fine on the surface is Limegrove, a fill that missed the kick here on her debut and still stayed on to be third of eight at 25/1. David Evans is a master of the self-handicapping art of claimers, and she'll be positioned perfectly in the weights. Her all weather form reads 312 and she ought again to be thereabouts.
Marilyn Marquessa was behind Limegrove on the latter's debut, and she doesn't look to have progressed at all. She's a very short price here, and a tempting place lay. Her rock bottom weight gives her a theoretical chance, but it's far more likely to do with the fact that she's extremely moderate.
Bill Turner has had a poor season by his standards, and his Lovely Lily might go better dropped back in trip here. She was sharp enough first time over six furlongs, and wasn't beaten that far at the death. She might get third, but it's hard to see either or both of Limegrove and Black Treacle not getting placed.
A - 1 (Black Treacle), 4 (Limegrove)
3.15 - Leg 3: Another odds on favourite in the form of Simple Magic, for Johhny G. He sends a fair number of his lesser nags here and, while 25% of them win, only 16% of his two-year-old maidens have done so since 2003. In the last two years, just one of eleven has won. Obviously, Simple Magic has a form chance on her turf performances, but she needs escorting with some B ballast.
Elite Freedom has run competitively in both her starts to date and, whilst not really improving last time, she can't be written off yet. B. And both Alquimia and Exceed Areeda ought to improve a bit on what they did on their sole starts so far, though Alquimia might want further rather than shorter and could be a handicap plot in a couple of runs time...
A - 11 (Simple Magic)
B - 1 (Alquimia), 3 (Elite Freedom), 5 (Exceed Areeda)
3.45 - Leg 4: It's fillies' handicap time, over seven furlongs. The draw favours inner berths though this short field of seven may not be too much of an issue for wider drawn lasses. Just two places to go at, and the track form of Amethyst Dawn and Miss Avonbridge looks something to side with.
Amethyst Dawn has won two and placed on a further three of her six starts here, and seven furlongs looks optimal for her. There's a bit of pace on, with Silkelly and Miss Avonbridge likely to push forward from the start, and that will suit Amethyst's stalking style. Of course, if there's little pace on early then Miss Avonbridge could be best placed to take advantage of a dawdle, being a front runner drawn 3. She is one from one here, having broken her maiden over course and distance back in November last year. She's been extremely consistent except when probably hating the track at Southwell last time, and looks fairly priced around 5/1.
The favourite is Clear Pearl, a lady who has been performing very well at Yarmouth. I just don't trust Yarmouth form so, while she might be good enough to get in amongst it here, I'm inclined to look elsewhere (perhaps foolishly). Summer Dream did well from a poor draw over course and distance last time, and that was against the boys too. Battling the girls here, and drawn better in 2, she'll be a challenger today, I think.
A - 2 (Amethyst Dawn), 6 (Miss Avonbridge)
B - 5 (Summer Dream)
4.15 - Leg 5: Another seven furlong handicap and a bigger field. The favourite, Angel Cake, is drawn nine, and will need some luck from there. She's also got a lot of weight to carry here with her penalty. Nevertheless, she was an easy winner last week over course and distance and cannot be left out of calculations.
Glenridding is a standing dish here, and is most dangerous when allowed to lead. He's drawn one today, and there's not much other pace in the race, meaning he could get just the set up he likes. A place player, without doubt.
There's been money for Excellent Jem and, whilst he's yet to see this course, he has had twelve winless races so far. True, he's placed on two of his three all weather attempts, but both were at Kempton, and there's a big enough doubt about translating that form to ignore him here, particularly at the price.
Time To Begin is much more interesting, stepping back to the distance of his best run - a close second at Dundalk - and he looks quite appealing for smart connections.
A - 1 (Angel Cake), 3 (Glenridding), 6 (Time To Begin)
4.45 - Leg 6: And so to the lucky last, a surprisingly decent Class 4 handicap over a mile and half a furlong. Mount Tiger won well here over course and distance on his penultimate start, but never got involved back on turf last time where he may have pulled his chance away. Drawn wide enough, he's short enough, but has definite place chances all the same. Included.
Classic Colori has plenty of weight in this, but his Wolves form is the winningmost: three wins from seven starts. It should be noted that two of those wins were in sellers and the third in a claimer, so top weight in a Class 4 handicap might be asking a lot. Then again, given a second and a win earlier this season in this grade, it might not. As you can tell, he's a hard horse to weigh up. He has lugged plenty of lead on numerous occasions to win, so on that basis he makes the ticket.
Invisible Hunter is really interesting in here. He's been campaigned in higher class to date, and had form with some good animals last term. Things really haven't panned out for him this year so far, but this first try at Wolverhampton, a first time visor, and a drop in grade might help. The young lad, Ahmad al Subousi has one win and four places from his eight public rides here to date, and I reckon his mount could run well this afternoon.
Ocean Tempest is a consistent stick and is certainly worth including too in what is a fascinating closing placepot leg.
A - 2 (Ocean Tempest), 7 (Mount Tiger)
B - 1 (Classic Colori), 3 (Invisible Hunter)
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