All-weather action comes from Wolverhampton on the Tapeta surface, Thursday, with a seven-race card.
5.45pm – 8.45pm, with the added frisson of it being a Racing League fixture. Cracking prize-money then, and some of the game’s top talents on show. Ireland’s Dylan Browne McMonagle has already announced himself in this competition and will doubtless make his presence felt.
All races are handicaps, there’s a Nursery thrown in for good measure, and ultra-competitive markets are very much the order of the day. Should be an absolute cracker.
6.45 – Pjanoo each-way @ 7/1
Richard Spencer’s 3-yr-old colt represents Team Ireland, and the aforementioned DB McMonagle is in the plate. The jockey has known great success already in his brief career, notably with Joseph O’Brien, and is a former boxing champion.
Pjanoo’s last run was a winning one, at Windsor, in a Class 4 handicap over a mile. He’s penalised just 2lbs for that, and it was a career-best. Now he knows where the jam-stick is another cracking run with one of Ireland’s most promising young pilots on top is more than a distinct possibility.
The ten-box isn’t perfect but he seems versatile as far as run-style goes. It’s extremely competitive, so let’s go each-way.
He ran a very decent race in York’s hot maiden, the Convivial, at last year’s Ebor meet, so he’s been well thought of for some time. Drawn out in the carpark on that occasion, too.
7.45 – Have Secret @ 4/1
A class-dropper as our Stateside friends might say, tackling a ‘3’ here when all four spins this term have been in Class 2 contests. A 3-yr-old gelding by prolific sire Havana Gold, Richard Fahey trains, and Cam Hardie rides.
Won a couple as a 2-yr-old but hasn’t got his head in front yet this term. A first outing on the Tapeta could be just the job, and he’s nicely berthed in box five. So far this season he’s shown up at York, Newbury, Ascot and Goodwood – fair to say then that Dunstall Park should in theory hold no terrors.
Competitive efforts so far in big fields at top venues could be just the springboard to imminent success. One for Team North.
8.15 – Dark Island each-way @ 8/1
A staying test here for a lovely prize. My selection nearly prevailed in the grade and at the trip at Sandown last time, and on this flatter surface can go one better.
The trip seemed to unlock some improvement from Heather Main’s gelding, and the handicapper took note – a 3lb hike. That’s offset here though by Gina Mangan’s 3lb claim, and that nose defeat up Sandown’s unforgiving hill is all the more meritorious for it being in Esher.
On the Tapeta flatlands of the west Midlands Dark Island, effectively on the same terms, can score or go very, very close.
At the price it’s daft in my view not to give ourselves every chance of a return, so each-way (we’re paying 4 places) is the suggestion. Nice racing weight of 8st 9lb when factoring in Gina’s claim and as a previous front-runner is drawn nicely in stall two, should pace making be again the tactic. Runs in the colours of Team Scotland.