A bolt from the Blue

Steve Hughes has two selections from Nottingham’s flat race card on Sunday including the featured 5f sprint event.

A pretty quiet Sunday of action today with only two meetings in Britain, both of fairly low quality. I am sticking with Nottingham for both of today’s selections, with two choices from opposite ends of the distance spectrum, a staying event over 14f and the class event of the day, a 0-95 sprint handicap. Steps ensured a reasonable day yesterday with a 6/1 SP win at Haydock.

Nottingham 2.45: Nolecce

In a contest with ifs and buts about pretty much the whole field, Nolecce has the fewest negatives and is back on a mark that he has always been competitive from over the years. There are no worries about the prevailing soft ground at Colwick Park either and 14f does seem his trip nowadays. Therefore as an each-way angle he makes plenty of appeal.

Nolecce began his career essentially as a miler with Richard Guest, and had a very successful season as a 3yo, winning twice at Newcastle, including once on heavy going. He has been a relatively infrequent winner since, but has managed another four victories since, gradually progressing up the distances from 10f to 12f and eventually on to a win over this 14f at Wolverhampton last July which came on just his second start for current owner/trainer Tony Forbes off a mark of 56.

He was then kept exclusively to Wolverhampton since, but found his revised mark of around 60 too tough, with a series of efforts between second and fifth place- running well, but suggesting he was in the grip of the assessor. He was switched back to turf for a race at Warwick last month, on soft going, and performed respectably in third from a reduced mark of 55. He has been given an extra 2lbs grace today and with jockey Jack Garritty claiming a further 7lbs, he will be carrying no weight. Given his consistency, he looks big enough at the odds for an each-way wager today.

Nottingham 3.45: Pearl Blue

Despite the drier weather of the past couple of days, the going will be still very much on the soft side at Nottingham today and that will play to the strengths of Pearl Blue who remains a sprinter to fear in this grade when the mud is flying.

The mare has four wins to her credit so far, all on a slow surface – essentially the softer the ground, the better she goes. A winner on her final start of 2012 at York, she failed to win last season, but ran a series of strong races, placing third in that same York contest in October, before a fine fourth in a big field at Doncaster on her final start from a 2lb higher mark. She made a promising reappearance at Epsom in April on good-to-soft conditions, finding that downland track too sharp, but producing her usual strong finish.

The ground had dried up too much for her at Lingfield last time, so that weak effort can be ignored. Another positive for today is the improving form of the Chris Wall yard. The Newmarket handler had a poor record of 2-40 in 2014 until the last fortnight. Since then he has had 3-13, so clearly things are coming right and that could indicate a better performance from Pearl Blue as well today. This race could be run to suit with plenty of early pace likely, to bring her fast finish into play. Her high draw is usually an advantage here too, given luck in running.

Recommended bets:

1pt each-way – Nolecce – 2.45 Nottingham (9/1 general)

1pt win – Pearl Blue – 3.45 Nottingham (9/2 general)

Betfred Horse Racing

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