121 POINTS PROFIT FROM PIPING-HOT WEEK: Daqman made it 121 points profit on the week at Betdaq value with a winning nap on Pepe Simo (WON 7-4) yesterday. That made it six winning days out of seven. He is currently 11 out of 12 with his lays.
De Sousa’s march has gone almost unnoticed. As Frankel and the whips farce hit the headlines this weekend, Silvestre De Sousa’s title challenge missed the front banners, even the minor pages.
De Sousa crept within five of Paul Hanagan, while Christophe Soumillon was losing £50,000 for six strokes of the whip in Saturday’s Champion Stakes but earning more than twice that by winning yesterday’s Woodbine International with nine strokes in the straight.
The 2011 home title will have been won a world apart from Soumillon’s fabulous double; by hard graft at the basic level, as we see today with De Sousa and Paul Hanagan (8 rides each) at Pontefract and Kieren Fallon at Windsor (6).
Let’s look at the value, if any, in the Hanagan v De Sousa battle at Pontefract, with Hanagan’s current form 120043002404110 and De Sousa’s 13300012104010014.
2.10 Pontefract: There was a new favourite this morning, with Free House coming out of maidens, first time in a handicap, with Jamie Spencer booked.
But it’s worrying that he’s already been gelded and was tried, and failed, in blinkers last time out. And he hasn’t been lucky with the draw. Looks a lay to me.
Dubious Escapade missed out on her handicap debut but soft ground and an ambling pace might have been against her. So ‘but’ and ‘might’ about the front two in the market lead me to look elsewhere.
There are also question-marks about Hanagan’s mount, Ventura Spirit: his best runs have been on the soft and we simply don’t know how he will perform on today’s drying ground.
De Sousa’s hope, Hurricane Emerald, failed to get the trip over 1m 2f at Nottingham, and that may not be the only reason he didn’t make the step up to handicaps, as blinkers first time today suggest.
I smell a big-priced winner, and maybe the 16.5 the well-drawn Twelve Strings is this morning’s worthwhile nibble. He’s done nothing wrong (he hasn’t really been asked!) and switches to turf over a trip which should suit, Luca Cumani’s sole raider North today. Title race: Hanagan 5, De Sousa 4.
2.40 Pontefract: More guesswork, as two-year-olds are put through late-season paces, and Spencer again has usurped the favourite’s seat on Desert Philosopher.
That the colt is with Kevin Ryan is good ammunition; that he’s already been placed is fire power; and I’d prefer him over the grey Glen Ellyn, De Sousa’s mount coming from a weak maiden, and Midnight Tryst for Hanagan, making her debut. De Sousa 4, Hanagan 4.
3.10 Pontefract: Exchanges so far say that the Racing Post’s paper favourite, Fol Hollow, was an early-doors lay. Badly drawn, and with only a claimer to his credit this year, he had no credentials to be market leader and drifted like a dog on a raft to 11.0 (at time of writing).
Lucky Numbers (De Sousa) was pushed to the front of the market only two days after a run at Catterick. But he has scored before with a five-day gap, and he’s racing off his winning mark.
The mare Comptonspirit (Hanagan) is only a pound higher than for the second of back-to-back wins in August and soft ground was against her at Bath: 13.0 on Betdaq looks very fair for the CD winner (twice).
Doc Hay seemingly needs cut and has won only at a lower level. Front-runner Spinatrix is a back-and-lay bet at 10.0 but, again, prefers it soft and is 23lb higher than when her good run started in July.
As ever in sprints, it’s a matter of who gets the breaks but Hanagan certainly has an each-way chance: Hanagan 5, De Sousa 3.
3.40 Pontefract: Cravat (De Sousa) was looking exposed but came good for a step up to 7f (two wins on good ground).
Salford Art (Hanagan) ran on well behind Lyric Of Light in the Group-1 Fillies’ Mile – fourth, not reach leaders – but the snag is she did something similar in a class-4 nursery before that: fifth, ran on, not reach leaders.
In fact, Toptempo got nearer Lyric Of Light in August than did Salford Art in September. Stipulate could go well but failed at this level last time out.
I shall take a chance on Al Saham at 5.2. He came eight lengths clear of his field with Sholaan, who tried to make all at Newcastle a fortnight ago but was caught by a professional finish by the winner, though the race was his debut. Hanagan 5, De Sousa 4.
4.10 Pontefract: De Sousa is up against it here on Descaro, whose Flat career has gone flat and who let favourite backers down over hurdles last week.
However, if he reproduced his Spring form, he would easily beat Hanagan on Blackmore, who is 5lb worse off though beaten threeparts of a length over today’s CD.
Dan Buoy is the back-and-lay bet at 10.0 but, though he’s won twice over CD, has found it difficult to get home in recent starts, and was a long way adrift of Descaro and Blackmore in that Spring race.
Mr Crystal, Petella and Spruzzo have also won on the course, and it seems very much a case of ‘whose turn is it today?’. De Sousa 5, Hanagan 3.
4.40 Pontefract: Solicitor (De Sousa) drops back to his winning trip but is no great shakes, while Hanagan will have to watch his action on Mighty Clarets, who got Barry McHugh a one-day whip ban when beaten in a claimer last time. De Sousa 5, Hanagan 4.
5.10 Pontefract: Legal Eagle (De Sousa) and Amenable need another furlong but the stiff five will suit Boundaries (Hanagan) and Lenny Bee.
Lenny Bee finished in front of Boundaries at Yarmouth recently and drops back from two efforts from the front over 6f: looks a back-and-lay at 10.0. Hanagan 5, De Sousa 4.
5.40 Pontefract: Maybe I will, with Hanagan up in first-time visors; but he’s a big drifter at 33.0 on Betdaq? So Maybe I Won’t.
Ullswater (6.8) could return to form if De Sousa can get a soft lead. He won the race last year on Sharp Sovereign who goes for a repeat but is notoriously lazy and cost his jockey four days’ holiday for use of the whip last time out. De Sousa 8, Hanagan 4.
BET 1.2pts win and place TWELVE STRINGS (2.10 Pontefract)
BET 1.6pts win and place COMPTONSPIRIT (3.10 Pontefract)
BET 4.7pts win (nap) AL SAHAM (3.40 Pontefract)
BET 2.2pts win LENNY BEE (5.10 Pontefract)
BET 3.4pts win ULLSWATER (5.40 Pontefract)
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