Best Bet: PONTMAIN (Race 5)
Value Bet: NOBODY’S PUPPET (Race 6)
Jackpot (race 5 – 8)
The day’s best bet, PONTMAIN has only had the three runs to date, winning over this distance on debut and then finishing second next time out over nine furlongs and immediately rested for a lengthy 115 weeks. He then finished fourth on his return over seven furlongs, 4.2L behind the winner, but the form of that race has stood up well with two runners out of that contest subsequently winning. He will have to negotiate draw ten, but the fact that his connections have brought him back into racing after such a lengthy absence would seem to suggest that they believe that he still has something more to offer them.
LADY KIRKHAM is a 5yr old mare taking on the boys, but she has finished closer to the winner in her last three runs, the latest when third over a mile, 0.7L back from the victor. She was only run out of it very late that day and she has her peak run here after returning from a 22-week rest. From gate six and if she has continued down that same path of improvement, she could emerge as the biggest danger to the top choice.
CAN DO IT made good late progress when ending up in fourth place last time out over 1300m, 1.8L behind the winner, suggesting that the extra ground on offer here will be to his liking. He has a wideish draw eight, but should nevertheless be involved in the finish.
NOBODY’S PUPPET is a 6yr old mare taking on males, but she made solid improvement to win her last outing over five furlongs by 1.8L. She went from jump to wire that day, kicking clear of the field entering the home straight and then holding off all the late challengers over the closing stages. She has pulled a handy gate two and will have 2kgs taken off her back thanks to her claiming apprentice. As such, she is taken to be the value bet on the day’s card.
AMERICAN SALUTE returns from a 19-week rest but has turned in an encouraging barrier trial to showcase his well-being. He jumped awkwardly, but then found the lead before eventually ending up in fifth spot last time out over a mile, four lengths adrift of the winner, but the form of that race has been franked. He jumps from gate seven and should appreciate the drop back this sprinting trip.
STORMBORN is a 3yr old filly who has her first run since an even longer 46-week break and has her first run for her new trainer, but she has had the benefit of two barrier trials, winning the first and finishing fourth in the latest. She has a wideish gate eight, but if she has settled into her new surroundings, she should make her presence felt in this line-up.
This looks to be an open race with plenty of the field with realistic chances of finding the winner’s box, so some caution is advised. The tentative first choice goes to PUSHKAR who followed up his penultimate run victory over 1100M with a fourth-place finish next time out over the same c&d, just over two lengths behind the winner, this despite coming the widest into the home straight. Two runners from that race have subsequently won to boost his chances of winning here. He is drawn in gate five and should be right up there in the firing line.
A 3yr old and a 4yr old filly could chase him home, with the slight preference going to TOOSTAR, who also won her penultimate start, but in her case, over this trip and followed that up with a fifth-place finish next time out when stepping up to 1500M, just over six and a half lengths back from the winner. She gets the blinkers re-fitted for today’s run and will have to overcome the widest draw of them all in gate sixteen, but she is likely to be dropped out of the race in the early stages and then start to pick off the front runners over the latter stages.
STAND YOUR GROUND is another who won her penultimate outing over 1300m and then ended up in seventh place in her next start over seven furlongs, three and a half lengths adrift of the victor. She finished off her race well that day and from draw six, she should be included in all bets.
BLAAZAY has consistent formlines to his credit, illustrated by the fact that his four runs to date have yielded one win, one second and one third-place finishes and in the only unplaced effort, he finished fifth over 908M, just over a length behind the winner. He was well off the pace turning for home last time out before finishing strongly to end up in third place over five furlongs, 1.8L back from the victor when returning from a year’s absence. He starts from a cozy draw two and could be the one to side with here.
REOFFENDER is seldom too far off the action and although recorded as finishing eighth in his last start over seven furlongs, he was just over three lengths off the winner. The form of that race has stood up well with three runners out of that contest having subsequently won. He has a wideish draw nine, but on the plus side, he gets the services of ex-SA jockey Keagan Latham so will get all the necessary assistance from the saddle.
VERDI has finished under two lengths off the winner in his last three outings, the latest when sixth over six furlongs, one length off the winner when returning from a 32-week break. He stayed on well that day and notwithstanding his wide gate thirteen, he should put in another honest effort today.
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