It’s not every Monday that there is a €300,000 race to get stuck into but this week is an exception with Naas staging the third running of the Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes.
And it’s far from the only highlight with Carlisle staging their annual evening meeting exclusively for female jockeys. There will be 27 riders in action with Nicola Currie, Joanna Mason and Megan Nicholls having a full book of eight rides.
Sadly, Laura Pearson will not be among those involved after her fall at Epsom last week. It was initially hoped that the 21-year-old had escaped serious injury but she faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering a fractured vertebrae in her neck.
Wesley Joyce was also injured in a fall at the Galway Festival, reminding us all of the fine line that jockeys tread every day. Twelve months earlier, the apprentice had been celebrating a dream winner at the meeting.
Here’s wishing the pair speedy recoveries. I have three selections, starting with the big race in Ireland. Enjoy all the action on Racing TV.
3.40 Naas: Matilda Picotte at a general 13-2
Ger Lyons landed this €300,000 prize with an unbeaten Juddmonte-owned filly last year in Sacred Bridge and seeks to repeat the trick with Apricot Twist, a runaway winner on her debut at Naas 12 days ago.
However, she is backing up pretty quickly and it’s worth remembering that Recurrent Dream won that same maiden on his debut for the yard before disappointing in this. Apricot Twist is a predictable favourite but, at the prices, I’m happy to take her on.
The first two renewals of this race have been dominated by those on the stands’ side and I fancy that is again where you will want to be with plenty of pace signed up among the high numbers,
Matilda Picotte, trained by Kieran Cotter, is drawn highest of all and must have prospects of hitting the jackpot under the excellent Billy Lee, who rides her for the first time.
She impressed when easily making all on her debut at The Curragh in early May and has since run well in Group races won by two Aidan O’Brien hotpots in Meditate, who went on to land the Albany, and Statuette.
Matilda Picotte was beaten less than two lengths on each occasion and is favoured by the conditions of this race. Provided she doesn’t do too much, too soon, then the general 13-2 chance must go well, having had a month off to recharge her batteries.Check out our best free bets and betting offers:
7.45 Carlisle: Detective at a general 4-1
Jockeys really should have to pay to ride Detective at Carlisle, rather than vice versa.
His form figures at the track read 121122221202. The one blip came in last month’s Cumberland Plate but he bounced back with possibly his best effort yet when nailed on the line by Strongbowe over course and distance on soft ground here last time.
Megan Nicholls gets the gig on him this time and she will need her wits about her because, for all his consistency, the versatile six-year-old doesn’t do much once he hits the front.
Example A was this race last year when he led too early and was caught on the post. On four occasions in the past year, he’s traded at 1.39 or shorter in-running on Betfair and been beaten.
He’s been nudged up 2lb for his latest effort but that is offset by his track prowess and consistency. He meets Strongbowe again, but that rival, who seems to enjoy getting his toe in, has since run below-par.
8.15 Carlisle: Where’s Jeff at a general 7-2
His name always causes me consternation because, of course, he’s crying out for a question mark. What is not in question is his love of stiff tracks, such as Carlisle, with the bulk of his seven career wins being achieved here, Beverley, Newcastle and Hamilton.
It’s been a year (and 11 races) since he last got his head in front but he’s 2lb lower than when gaining his latest success and he looked back at the top of his game when touched off by Molinari at Beverley last time. He travelled fluently but having mastered the long-time leader found himself vulnerable where it mattered most.
That looks a solid piece of form with the winner since defying a 3lb higher mark in a better race at York. The fourth has since twice gone close, while the fifth has resumed winning ways.
Joanna Mason, grand-daughter of trainer Mick Easterby, has won twice on Where’s Jeff and is reunited with him. What is there not to like?
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