Good morning all,
As much as most people will be looking to Newmarket for their racing action today, it's Market Rasen's big day as well, with the Summer Plate taking centre stage. I've had a look at that, as well as the big handicap hurdle also on the card on today's Punt.
Can I remind you all that I am currently only writing the Punt on Fridays and Saturdays for the forseeable future. Thanks.
If, as I suspect, the ground is riding on the soft side then that’s going to really scupper the chances of many of these. In fact, you’re struggling to find many that will actually want it, and I can probably thin this down to three of them.
Brandon Castle only knows the one way, get out in front and get gone, and now he’s got his ground, the others are going to be have to be on their guard or they’ll find him away and gone. He took to hurdles really well as a novice, winning his first three starts around Plumpton and beating one or two useful ones in the process, before being thrown in at the deep end in the Supreme. Needless to day he was outclassed there, and I think the effort of that simply finished him for the season.
He ran on the Flat at Newmarket last month, going miles clear (and trading short) before getting tired late on. With that under his belt, he should be fitter here and at worst, you should get a good trade out of him (for you in-running players).
But maybe old Red Tornado is the answer. Winner of this for Dan Skelton back in 2016 and then runner up in 2017, he now finds himself in the care of Chris Fairhurst and seemingly, as he’s got a bit older, has become a bit happier with some cut in the ground. In fact, he almost won on ground that Timeform described as good to soft (after lots of rain) at Redcar last month, really putting his head down and trying hard, beaten just a nose. He might not be the force of old but he clearly loves the place, and the rain-softened ground will slow a few of the others down and give him a chance.
If it’s genuinely good ground then I’d give Dino Velvet an excellent chance. He’s a regular in these races and I think his third in a good race at Southwell earlier in the month will work out. A fast pace will suit him too, as he often travels well. Keep an eye out on the earlier races and see what the ground actually is.
I find this a hard race to call, not least because of the ground, again. How many of these will want some cut? Not that many, I’d wager…
If it’s genuinely good ground I’d be looking very much at Harry Fry’s pair of Bags Groove and Art Of Payroll. Bags Groove looked a very useful novice a couple of years ago, taking the Grade 2 Rising Stars and Pendil, before blowing out in the Manifesto last year, and he’s not been seen since then, well over a year. He will handle a bit of cut and the handicapper has given him a real chance. He has the potential to still be better than these, but is he now the same horse? For me, he either wins or blows out, so he’d be a win only bet.
Art Of Payroll needs it genuinely good. He’s also all-or-nothing material, and you’ve got to go back a couple of years to find any form, but that second to Traffic Fluide in Cheltenham’s Silver Cup is very good handicap form and has worked out very well as time has gone on. He’s 9lb lower than that here, and although he clearly has issues (big absences between his runs), he could go well.
Royal Village’s excellent Rasen record means he needs a second look as long as the ground is no worse than good to soft, but this mark looks high enough and he might need the run. So Alan King’s pair of Potterman and Fidux both warrant a good look. Both are small-field novice winners but Fidux has big-field handicap hurdles form and I was quite taken with him last year. Despite only finishing third to Dashel Drasher at Haydock on soft ground last year, the two in front of him were class acts and he was giving them both weight. There’s surely more to come from him, and there was nothing wrong with his run at Wolverhampton on the Flat last month – the winner and second went on to finish 1-2 in the Northumberland Plate!
I’m more confident with the Hurdle than I am the Plate at the moment, so I’ll go with Red Tornado (each-way) as my selection today.
Good luck with all your bets today,