A field of six go to post for the feature race of the day at Pontefract on Wednesday. See our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Following the withdrawal of the hot favourite Kasperenko, the largely consistent SENNOCKIAN STAR could be left to pick up the pieces. Mark Johnston’s mount could well get the race run to suit and will enjoy today’s conditions and excuses can be made for a lesser effort last time out. The yard are also in decent form with, four winners from their last 13 runners and he rates the likely winner ahead of Mutadaffeq.
1 HOT BEAT – Finished a good third at Newcastle back in February in a hot looking race, but he’s been quiet in two runs since, well beaten at Newmarket and Newcastle in June. He is in quieter waters now though and he’s a pound lower than when third over the two mile trip at Newcastle in February. This trip shouldn’t be a problem and the hood goes on, so he has to be considered a big threat under Martin Harley.
2 MUTADAFFEQ – Course and distance winner who started off the year well, winning at Thirsk before another comfortable success over course and distance. However, he hasn’t put his best foot forward the last twice; he was well beaten at both Ayr and Ascot and he needs to revive. He was wide for most of the race at Ascot so perhaps that can be forgiven and the softer ground shouldn’t be a problem. Therefore, he couldn’t be ruled out off a mark of 86 which is only four pounds above his last winning one.
3 SENNOCKIAN STAR – Tough to win with but usually very consistent, finishing third at Hamilton and Ripon in July for Mark Johnston. He didn’t give his running when only ninth at Ascot on his latest start and is more than capable off a mark of 86 if on song under Franny Norton. He’s ground versatile and stays this trip strongly, with the possibility that he could get a soft lead making him even more interesting. One to consider seriously.
4 ICEFALL – Won three times at the 1m 4f trip last year for Tim Easterby, returning this season over the 1m 2f trip at Ripon in July. That was clearly an inadequate test for him and better is expected today. The ground is likely to be soft and this is his ideal trip. James Sullivan takes the ride for a yard hitting top gear at present and he looks set to make a bold bid.
5 KASPERENKO (non runner) – First time blinkers did the trick for this lightly raced three-year-old who stormed to victory in comfortable fashion at Doncaster when last seen. He’s consequently been raised eight pounds, but there is far more to come and these likely softer conditions will not phase him at all. Tom Queally takes the ride for David Lanigan and he looks tough to beat if improving once again.
6 AZAM – Won a maiden at Kempton in taking style for John Gosden but failed to build on that in three subsequent runs, signing off from Gosden’s yard when a well beaten fifth at Windsor in July. He then joined the Mick Appleby team for 50,000gns and is hard to recommend, considering how poor he was last time out and coupled with the fact that softer ground is a big question mark.