Yorkshire trainer Marjorie Fife has her first runner at Dundalk this evening, with Red Charmer running in the 5.30pm Apprentice Jockey Claiming race and she may well make her first a winner, as the 8yo gelding arrives in winning form and is looking very dangerous at the weights in a very ordinary ten furlong contest.
With lots of A/W action to get through, so we’ll keep things snappy and get through fun fancies in all bar one of the 16 races on show. The second at 6.00pm looks a good opportunity for Aidan O’Brien’s Mona Lisa’s Smile, who has been keeping hot company of late and finds herself running in an average nursery here from a handicap mark of 69. O’Brien has an impressive 21% strike rate at Dundalk and has been placing his handicapping projects to good effect in 2018.
Katiymann was given plenty to do by Ben Coen here last week, but produced another eye-catching performance in 2nd place. On the clock, he is miles clear of this field in the 6.30pm and although there is an argument that he is starting to look exposed, Mick Halford’s charge remains in very dangerous form and deserves to get his head in front now the stable is in super form. In the 7.00pm, Division 1 of a 7f handicap, Bouquet Garni has also been knocking at the door without winning for Edward O’Grady, but the Rip Van Winkle filly can get off the mark for 2018 here, 7lb lower than when she won Division 2 of the same course and distance handicap last year. Division 2 this year can go to recent “CD” winner Ahlan Bil Zain a half an hour later. A fairly short price favourite, one of Michael Halford’s many in-form battalions and this one will be very hard to beat off just 4lb higher. He ran to an RPR of 74 last week and clocked a Topspeed figure of 67, so his handicap rating of 69 looks exploitable once more with a clutch of exposed runners in opposition.
The Group 3 Mercury Stakes is the feature race of the night, a 5f sprint containing several classy UK raiders, including the Charlie Hills trained Equilateral, who has a big chance if handling the surface. The lion’s share of the 63,500 Euro prize can stay on green shores however, with Aidan O’Brien’s Lost Treasure looking the one to beat after finishing a very unlucky 2nd at Navan last time out, on the back of finishing 5th to Mab’s Cross in the Group 1 Prix l’Abbaye. First time blinkers applied can help the War Front colt focus on the job and he looks a worthy market leader under Donnacha O’Brien, a man riding at the top of his game just now.
The 8.30pm maiden is a fiendish affair, but Proud And Elated is just about the pick, based purely on the speed and stats ratings I use, while the lucky last is a trappy affair too, but could go the way of the ultra-consistent Nimitz; also looking dangerous on the rating sheets.
Donnachie’s Girl looks a decent price in the Newcastle opender at 5.10pm this evening. The handicapper has finally relented, as she’s running of marks in the low 70s all year but goes here off 68, with Rowen Scott’s 3lb a further help to her cause in this 1m4f handicap. William Haggas has a tremendous 33% hit rate at the track in the past three years and his filly Seductive is a major threat to all, tackling a mile for the first time under Tom Marquand in the 5.45pm. The 6.15pm Novice Stakes has little go on form wise, so we’ll skip that in favour of the 6.45pm fillies’ handicap, where Ismail Mohammed’s Counter Spirit will be really tough to deny, 6lb up in the ratings following an impressive win here over a furlong shorter last month. The yard has been quiet in recent weeks, but this 4yo is a stand out on form and the 5lb claim of Cameron Noble seals the deal.
Richard Guest’s 4yo runner Harry George turned a major corner after a breathing operation last time out over a mile here. The Big Bad Bob gelding is up 9lb here on the back of that, but he’s on an upward curve now and can land Division 1 of this 7f handicap at 7.15pm. Jessinamillion looks the chief threat under Josephine Gordon. In Division 2 at 7.45pm, the consistent and reliable Joyful Star can land the spoils for Fred Watson and Paul Hanagan. A course specialist, the 8yo veteran won over this trip three starts ago, so the drop to 7f from a mile reads well and there’s still room for maneuver from his mark of 55.
Nick Vedder is a quirky sort who needs things to fall just right and looks vulnerable at the top of the market for the 8.15pm handicap over 6f. Recent course and distance winner Secretinthepark has little room for error on his revised mark of 74 after his victory in late September, but for each way punters he looks a fair price at around 7-8/1 this morning. In the last at 8.45pm, Paul Midgley’s Gamesome is in a similar mould, minus the recent winning form. Consistent on the clock, the 7yo is another that has been running well in defeat for some time now and deserves to get his head in front under Dougie Costello.
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