JONATHAN HOBBS FRIDAY: It’s semi-final night in the Coral Essex Vase over 575m and, once again for one of the track’s six-bend competitions, there is nothing straightforward and certain when it comes to finding winners in those contests. That said, it means there is plenty of value to be had!

As ever Friday night at Romford is a must for open-race fans and three semi-finals of the Essex Vase are supported by three semi-finals of the Coral Maiden, a new Category Tw event. A batch of supporting opens thereafter make up a superb card for the purists.

Let’s have a lot a the pick of the bets.


6.09: The opener sees a nice type in Nolas Beauty make her return to the track for a 575m maiden. Michelle Brown’s runner is up in trip having faced some likely types at Towcester before Xmas. Trials have been smart and the draw inside could be the icing on the cake.

Play: Nolas Beauty

6.28: Pocket Elvis will be fancied for this 400m after a runaway win here last week and should go well. However, the experienced Droopys Flight makes his return to Romford after some fair efforts away from home for Nathan Hunt and comes away well from the midfield.

Play: Droopys Flight

6.43: Russian Blake seems to thrive on a switch and John Mullins’ dog gets the vote to reverse last week’s form with kennelmate Icaals Rocco. The six-box at Romford brings the best out of him and one of his bullet breaks might soon put these under pressure.

Play: Russian Blake

6.58: Blastoff Mason is up there with some of the best sprinters around on his day and this step up from two bends to a short four could suit Seamus Cahill’s dog. He trialled well with Geelo Gold Dust and that sort of form does the trick here providing he breaks with them.

Play: Blastoff Mason

8.17: The first semi-final of the Essex Vase and Angela Harrison’s team get the vote to make the trip down from the north east – and back – a far more pleasant experience with victory for Coolavanny Aunty. The Empress Stakes winner stepped up in trip in great style in the heats last week and should get first run on powerhouses Night Timmy Danny and Callmesteve – albeit both will improve for their first-round efforts last week.

Play: Coolavanny Aunty

8.38: The second semi-final of the Essex Vase now and Kishlawn Shakira is the percentage call to strike here, albeit only narrowly. David Mullins’ bitch finished well last week to peg back our selection Gymstar Elusive and could do so again with a clear. Respect to runaway heat winner Ragtime Storm who might trap in front, while expect better also from Coolavanny Bani after a solid run last week. A tough, tough heat.

Play: Kishlawn Shakira

8.54: Antigua Princess, the bitch formerly known as Oaks champion Ballymac Trend, was special last week with her heat win – and could easily follow up in this third Essex Vase semi. However, such was the way Warzone Tom bullied the opposition last week to set the fastest time then the vote must go the way of Liz McNair’s runner especially if coming away from the midfield as he might well do. Dapper Rodney is improving and well pitched.

Play: Warzone Tom

9.12: A decent bitches-only 400m here. Geelo Gold Dust gets the vote given her Romford form previous and Sean Davy’s bitch might always be one step ahead of the likes of Lemming Devon and Bang On Sonia, who have both posted recent smart wins.

Play: Geelo Gold Dust

9.42: Bubbly Angel gets the vote in the lucky last to strike in a 750m contest. Paul Young’s bitch ran a stormer in a Crayford final last weekend and, if coming away and securing a decent position, might be tough to hold against the two Slippys, Mick and Eva.

Play: Bubbly Angel

Good luck all.