Sunday tips: Do not miss Ascot Week at Pontefract

By Chris Dixon
Sun 20 Aug 2017

Geoffrey Riddle and Dave Nevison were on the mark on Saturday at 12-1 and 5-2 and Chris Dixon picks up the gauntlet on Sunday with a strong fancy at Pontefract.

There is some excellent racing across Europe this afternoon with the cards at the Curragh and Deauville hosting a plethora of Group races.

The Ballydoyle face-off between September and Happily in the Debutante Stakes in Ireland is particularly intriguing, while I was very impressed with Nyaleti last time and will be watching Mark Johnston’s filly with interest as she takes on a better class of rival in the Group One Prix Morny in France.

For Sunday’s tips, however, I am staying closer to home and will focus on the card at Pontefract where I am hoping Bear Valley will be able to back up his good run at Ascot last time when lining up in the 1m4f handicap at 2.50.

A close-up third behind a pair of progressive three-year-old’s that day, Bear Valley was returning to the level of form that also resulted in him hitting the frame in a couple of strong early-season handicaps confined to the classic generation.

Sunday’s assignment looks altogether less competitive. He is able to race off the same mark, he looks a well treated horse, should have a good gallop to aim at courtesy of Croquembouc, and the presence of Silvestre De Sousa in the saddle is an added positive.

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The series of staying handicaps at Pontefract regularly feature a number of the same faces, few of whom are well treated and that again looks the case with the Moor Top Farm Shop Hemsworth handicap over 2m1f at 3.25.

Madam Lilibet, Tuscan Gold and La Fritillaire all meet again and I suspect the winner of this will come from a horse bringing a different fomline into the race.

Unlike plenty of these Ingleby Hollow has not had a chance to prove himself over this trip, but he saw out two miles strongly for a win at Thirsk last year and I think there is every chance it will suit.

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Now 5lbs lower in the weights than for that last win, Ingleby Hollow is also a course winner and recent placed efforts suggest he is ready to take advantage of his reduced mark.

As for the best value bet of the Sunday afternoon card on Racing UK, I like the look of Ascot Week in the Collect Totepool Winnings At Betfred Shops Maiden Stakes at 5.10.

The short-priced favourite Glassy Waters may well outclass the field but his head carriage has not been convincing on either start so far and he looks to be taking too much out of the market, considering he is also taking a big drop in trip on this first start for almost three months.

In Ascot Week he faces a rival with some solid form in the book and John Quinn’s new recruit looks worth supporting at 11-4 – he was 4-1 for the early birds.

He was third at Doncaster last time and the time of the race suggested it was a good race for the grade and that has been backed up by three subsequent winners emerging from the race.

Although ridden with a bit of restraint last time, Ascot Week had previously looked comfortable making the running and I am hoping for a return to those tactics this afternoon.

In my first column a few weeks ago I mentioned how the data of the season so far showed that the bias for low drawn, prominent racers over sprint trips that had been evident at Pontrefract for years had been reversed in the early meetings.

That afternoon however, normal service resumed with pace and the rail often proving an advantage so hopefully that will be the case again in the Nova Display Handicap (Div. 1) at 5.40 where Sandra’s Secret will bid to make all from stall One.

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Les Eyre’s filly was disappointing last time but that was her first try on testing ground and it appeared to count against her so she may be better judged on a previous fourth-placed finish at Pontefract in a higher grade on her penultimate start.

Having dropped 4lb since that run, she is now rated 2lb below her last winning mark and is unlikely to face the sort of pressure on the lead as she has on a few occasions recently.

Chris Dixon's Sunday tips: (Prices correct at 10am)

2.50 Pontefract: Bear Valley at 2-1 generally available

3.25 Pontefract: Ingleby Hollow at 7-2 generally available

5.10 Pontefract: Ascot Week at 11-4 with Betfair, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes

5.40 Pontefract: Sandra's Secret at 11-2 with Betfair

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