A field of nine go to post for a highly competitive Class 2 Handicap at Pontefract on Thursday. See our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Kassia won this last year and looks a strong contender for Mick Channon, but ready preference is for CLON COULIS. David Barron’s three-year-old filly has been hugely progressive since a debut win at Carlisle in June, narrowly missing out on handicap debut at Newmarket, unlucky not to win that day. She made amends when breezing clear to win a Class 3 event at Hamilton and a further eight pound rise is unlikely to stop her going in again under Ben Curtis.
1 KASSIA – Course and distance winner for the out of form Mick Channon yard who has been campaigned mainly in pattern company this season. She made her first handicap start since September 2016 when finishing second at Salisbury two weeks ago, beaten by a horse who completed a hat-trick that day and she was clear of the third. She’s only a pound higher here and remains lightly raced at the age of four. Softer ground is of no concern for her and she is a big danger under Graham Lee.
2 CLON COULIS – Progressive three-year-old for David Barron who has only had three runs, winning on debut at Carlisle before a great second on handicap debut at Newmarket in July. She gained her second career success when easily winning a handicap at Hamitlon and, although she’s eight pounds higher, any amount of progress can be expected and she looks potentially smart. Conditions are to suit and, with the Barron yard in such great form, she looks tough to beat here.
3 SOUTHERN BELLE – Consistent sort for Robert Cowell who tends to run her race but doesn’t win very often, with her latest victory coming back in May at Ripon off eight pounds lower. She was last seen at Hamilton when only denied by a neck, remaining on the same mark for today’s run. She does, however, go back up in class and she needs more if she’s to gain a fourth career victory. She’s an each way player but looks vulnerable for win purposes.
4 MEGAN LILY – Highly tried three-year-old for Richard Fahey who has won twice from 19 starts, proving very inconsistent of late. Although she finished a good third at Ascot two starts ago, she was well beaten at Hamilton on her latest start when a long way behind Clon Coulis and she looks to have an uphill task here. Her current mark may just be too high for her in this sort of company and others are preferred.
5 TIRANIA – Cost €370,000 as a yearling for William Haggas and she has been proving a useful sort, gaining her second career victory at Musselburgh last month in good style. She had a poor passage but still had enough left in the tank to storm past the eventual second towards the finish. She is only two pounds higher here and, despite going up in class, she remains completely unexposed. That said, dropping back to this trip isn’t sure to suit and she can only be given each way claims on that basis unless they go really hard out in front.
6 MARIE OF LYON – Second runner for Richard Fahey who bounced back from a very poor effort when taking a Class 4 Handicap at Brighton three days ago. She now goes up markedly in Class and her previous efforts suggest that she would have each way claims under Adam McNamara, who takes off three pounds.
7 SAVANNAH SLEW – One of the more experienced runners in the field who won five starts ago at Carlisle in softer ground, running well off high marks recently. She kept on well after a tardy beginning at Hamilton on her latest start, only a length behind Southern Belle. She remains on the same mark and, although she is vulnerable for win purposes off this mark upped in class, she would be no surprise in the placings.
8 HOPE SOLO – Won a Class 4 Handicap at Ripon two starts ago when making all in good style, but she’s struggled in higher classes on other starts in her career. She was well held on fourth on her latest start at York in Class 3 company and she needs further progress if she’s to feature here under Kevin Stott. Others have far more convincing profiles and she’s best watched here.
9 SANDRA’S SECRET – Has a good record here and at Beverley for Les Eyre but she’s never won above Class 5 level and this looks a very competitive Class 2 event. She arrives today in good form, granted, but she’ll need to improve on her latest second in Class 5 company if she’s to even hit the frame here. Jane Elliott takes off a useful five pounds, but she’s unlikely to be good enough.