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Pontefract preview: Pipalong Stakes race guide and tip

By Tom Thurgood@tdthurgood
Mon 4 Jul 2022

Tom Thurgood takes a closer look at Tuesday's £50,000 highlight on a valuable card at Pontefract, in which seven now go to post. Prices correct as of 9.15am on Tuesday. Check out the big-race verdict and enjoy all the action live on Racing TV.

Seven runners head to post for the £50,000 Weatherbys Bloodstock Pro Pipalong Stakes at Pontefract on Tuesday and the Listed highlight boasts a more than fair recent pedigree.

Last year’s commanding winner Lights On landed the Group Two Bet365 Mile on her return to action this term while Group One winners Lady Bowthorpe, Audarya and Billesdon Brook all finished down the field in the previous two editions.

Unlike the last meeting here where the runners travelled all the way over to the stands' side in the straight for better ground, the going for Tuesday is described as Good to firm, Good in places and the field will surely take the shortest route in the straight and stick to the far side – where there is additionally a strip of fresh ground for this fixture. A low draw looks preferable.

Here is a closer look at this year’s contenders.

DUBAI LOVE

Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor Odds: 9-2

Only two are rated higher here on official ratings and she has a good draw for a stable in excellent form. However, this assignment could be partly indicative of the fact that she doesn’t look to have much scope from her current mark of 97, while you feel she ideally wants more cushion in the ground than the good to firm surface she’ll encounter here. She doesn’t win often and her debut success on debut at Nottingham in late 2019 remains her sole domestic win.

FFION

Trainer: David Loughnane Odds: 25-1

Contests her first start at Listed level after an underwhelming run last time when beating only four home in the Kensington Palace Stakes. She went off at 11-1 in that 20-runner field though and given her consistent profile and this relatively quick turnaround it may be easier than not to forgive that Royal Ascot run. The draw has done her no favours here having been drawn widest of all and it's likely that she'll find a few of these too good.

LET’S

Trainer: Ken Condon Odds: 12-1

The four-year-old has been highly-tried at stakes level and this is her 11th start in such company, but she might be a bit better than a superficial glance at her form suggests. This step up from seven furlongs is likely to suit and she ran well at Listed level at Musselburgh last time, but this is surely a better race while this slow starter is unlikely to take best advantage of her good draw. Connections would likely be delighted if they could nick black type.

RISING STAR

Trainer: Marco Botti Odds: 13-2

Posted a career-best last time despite huge odds when landing the Kensington Palace Stakes at 40-1 and connections are after some black type to supplement that success. This will be a very different set-up to that latest success and she’s up against rivals of a significantly higher class now but she warrants respect - even if you'd like to see her back up that Royal Ascot win primarily.

ROMAN MIST

Roman Mist runs a cracker at Epsom last month

Trainer: Tom Ward Odds: 10-3

This strong traveller has never absolutely convinced at a mile, but the lack of obvious pace here may make this a steadier test at the trip and that could play to her advantage. She won a hot renewal of the Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes at Kempton – even if she was holding on late in the race against rivals lacking race-fitness – and travelled strongly at Epsom in Group Three company when once again showing her best speed in the penultimate furlong. She’s a good filly but has a Listed penalty to concede now.

ROMANTIC RIVAL (now a non-runner)

Trainer: George Boughey Odds: -

Has kept good company in three starts for George Boughey, shaping well when only fading late from a prominent position when down the field in Listed company on British debut back in April before blowing out in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes next time. She won off a mark of 85 on handicap debut last time, but she quickened notably well in the final two furlongs at Kempton – posting 10.65 and 10.93 splits according to Coursetrack – and she looks interesting again under Jamie Spencer in a race lacking pace that may put a greater accent on finishing speed.

ROSEMARY AND THYME

Trainer: Hughie Morrison Odds: 22-1

Her trainer has a good record at this track but she has been set some fairly stiff assignments so far and has cut little ice in eight starts so far at stakes level. She does not have a great draw and has to reverse form with several of these rivals on less favourable terms at the weights, notably Kensington Palace winner Rising Star and Royal Ascot also-ran Dubai Love.

SERENADING

Trainer: James Fanshawe Odds: 33-1

She might be a better filly on the all-weather than on turf and ran below expectations in the Kensington Palace last time when only beating three rivals home. She didn’t fare too badly on her return to action at Ascot the previous month but, even on that form, she has a good bit to find.

THUNDER BEAUTY

Trainer: David O'Meara Odds: 15-8

She actually ran pretty well in the Chartwell at Lingfield on her return when sticking on nicely after racing a bit keenly from a wide draw and made very eye-catching progress for second in the Duke Of Cambridge at Royal Ascot last time, ultimately having no chance with the Group 1-winning and enterprisingly-ridden Saffron Beach but faring best of the race in a sprint for home in which she was at a distinct positional disadvantage. If there’s one quibble, she had to fight harder than looked likely to fend off Primo Bacio for third, but that filly had a much higher rating going into the race and perhaps the big effort to get into contention just told in the end. Importantly here, she has quick ground once again and a set-up that is likely to put an emphasis on finishing speed.

VERDICT

I liked Romantic Rival to ourtun her odds - as big as 28-1 at early prices yesterday evening - after keeping good company this term for a good yard, notably when shaping much better than the result in the Listed Snowdrop Stakes (won by Roman Mist) on British debut before showing a pretty potent turn of foot last time. However, she has since been declared a non-runner and just seven go to post.

I think the 15-8 about Thunder Beauty is too big and she can confirm the favourable impression she made at Royal Ascot, back on similar quick ground and for an-form team. Her main rival Roman Mist is a likeable filly who travels strongly, but she hasn't hit the line strongly on all three starts this season and has to conceded a 3lb Listed penalty from a wider draw than Thunder Beauty.

The David O'Meara filly has a bit of back-class and it's feasible that she is just starting to take off for her current yard since a relatively recent arrival. She might just prove a bit more progressive than Roman Mist here.

I think both fillies are clear in this race - and official ratings have them at least 7lbs clear of Dubai Love - and I've backed Thunder Beauty to beat Roman Mist in a straight forecast as well as a single bet on the selection.

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