PONTEFRACT JOCKEYS’ TITLE JOUST: The so-called ‘Family Funday’ at Pontefract becomes a serious occasion today, with the clash of all three leading riders in the jockeys’ title race. They have 19 rides all told and the big three meet in four of the seven races.
Pontefract takes the cake. There were football scores in the title race yesterday – Kieren Fallon 4, Paul Hanagan 2 – as a trio of jockeys determine to make up a premier league at the top, and they have no fewer than 19 rides in total today, all at Pontefract.
The trio pulled 12 clear of William Buick, although Ryan Moore is still in the thick of them, if he can get back from injury quickly enough. Hanagan (110 winners) is on seven horses at the Yorkshire track this afternoon, challenged by Silvestre De Sousa (97 winners) and Fallon (90) with six apiece.
2.00 Pontefract Richard Fahey, who saddles his own horse, Kimbali, in this one, drew a blank yesterday and his last winner for Hanagan was Coolminx at Newcastle on Friday.
Kimbali did well enough first time out to run up to the favourite over the tough Beverley 5f but was odds-on beaten market leader on the soft at Ripon a fortnight later.
Given a month’s rest, and back on a sound surface today, Kimbali could find Larwood bowling at him in the final furlong. Cleverly named (by Aussie Rules out of Ashbilya), Larwood is sent North by Henry Candy.
Candy has saddled two juveniles at Pontefract before, and one of them won. The stable could be in better form but, of four two-year-old runners in the last fortnight, two have finished a close second and Larwood is 14.5 as I write.
Front-runner Reve Du Jour – second over CD last month – should make this a serious race, in which Silvestre De Sousa’s mount, Kune Kune, has a chance – but was behind I’ll Be Good at Thirsk – and Mick Channon thought Nayarra worth aiming at a Newmarket Listed, though she’s already had to resort to blinkers and a visor. Hanagan wins.
2.30 Pontefract Hanagan has a hard task on Snow Dancer, as he gets off the Fahey runner, Trip The Light. Snow Dancer won on this course last month but is stepped up to 1m 4f, for which her record is 03000.
Quite the reverse procedure is made by De Sousa’s mount, Stagecoach Danman, coming back to the scene of his CD maiden win, after failing to manage 1m 6f at Sandown on soft.
The last decent run by Isobar was a neck defeat under Fallon at Kempton 11 months ago now but his subsequent failure on soft and his reappearance run can be ignored, and 10.0 this morning is a fair offer on the Daq. Fallon won the race last year.
John Gosden has a one-in-three strike rate at Pontefract and Rain Mac took on some crack handicappers in a higher grade at Newmarket last month and must be a stakes saver.
Hong Kong Island has won two out of three on today’s course and again ran well there when second under Hanagan earlier in the month but the Hammond stable is out of form and they’re claiming off ‘Kong’ now, since he’s 12lb higher than for his last success. Fallon wins.
3.00 Pontefract Deleting the maidens, long-time losers and stables out of form gets rid of a few and I’m adding No Time For Tears for an abysmal run last time and the implication in her form that this trip is too far.
But I’m still stuck with seven horses to choose from, including the mounts of Hanagan and De Sousa – Golden Future and Simple Jim – which were third and fourth in the same race at Thirsk recently behind Riptide.
Though the handicapper has brought them even closer together, you would normally side with the younger horse, as a potential improver, but Riptide’s is one of the stables out of form.
Jeu De Roseau and Tillietudlem seem to take turns beating each other and Spruzo is one paced at this trip, so I’m thinking Fire Fighter, an improving three-year-old, could be one of those Prescott sequence horses but I’m worrying that Uncle Keef (Fallon) is better than the bare form.
3.30 Pontefract (Flying Fillies Stakes) A Listed which hasn’t been won by a three-year-old since 2001 or a favourite since 2003. De Sousa sits this one out, with Hanagan on a Highclere filly for Fahey and Fallon on an Oasis Dream filly which won last time out.
The Highclere filly is Rose Blossom, ideally drawn to kick on, tactics which almost pulled off a Listed at Chester but this is tougher track.
She has two lengths to find on York form with Dever Dream (Sioux Rising and Dubai Media behind), who must surely beat Rimth and Sharnberry on Glorious Goodwood running.
Dever Dream was second in this race last year and, despite her draw will be hard to beat on those form lines though, collaterally, there is a suggestion that Folly Bridge could be her equal.
With the stable absolutely flying, the better-drawn Folly Bridge, dropped back a furlong in first-time visor, could strengthen Roger Charlton’s fabulous 56% strike-rate: the 14.0 I see before me is a crazy offer.
4.00 Pontefract I can’t have a Tom Dascombe at the moment (1-32), and sorry I didn’t declare my usual lay on Brown Panther.
Ollie Pears (0-16) is also currently struggling and Hanagan is probably glad to hand over the bridesmaid Jade (form figures 2220002) to Fallon.
Buzz Law (and therefore Maggie May) can’t beat Baptist on Newmarket form, given a boost a grade higher by Dimension at Goodwood. Tullius has been found out at that level but is back to class 3.
Unless Robemaker can make a big leap forward – he was well behind Dimension in the Spring – it’s ‘how far’ Baptist, with Tullius chasing him home, though Polar Kite could also be a danger.
Hanagan’s mount drops back from abortive attempts at class-2 big-field handicaps but both sides of his breeding say that you will see a different animal later on with plenty of cut in the ground.
4.30 Pontefract Not a race I would want to bet in: Fallon’s mount, To The Spring, looks exposed and has resorted to blinkers; Cairncross (De Sousa) was disappointing first time out, but Tadabeer (Hanagan) was more promising in a Newmarket maiden and will improve for the run and the better ground. Hanagan then. Maybe.
5.00 Pontefract We’ve slid down to class 5 and it’s anybody’s guess: Haadeeth (Hanagan) at 8.0 in the Betdaq market as I write , Ballinargh Girl (Fallon) at 8.2 and Chambers (De Sousa) at 8.6 suggest that our three heroes have a very close personal battle on their hands. But the day seems to belong to Hanagan, and the new gap at the top could be the Hanagan lead.
BET 7.6pts win KIMBALI, and 1.4pts win and place LARWOOD (2.00 Pontefract)
BET 2.2pts win ISOBAR and 1pt win (stakes saver) RAIN MAC (2.30 Pontefract)
BET 5pts win FIRE FIGHTER, and 1.5pts win and place UNCLE REEF (3.00 Pontefract)
BET 1.5pts win and place FOLLY BRIDGE, and 1.5pts win (stakes saver) DEVER DREAM (3.30 Pontefract)
BET 8.6pts win (nap) BAPTIST (4.00 Pontefract)