Steve Hughes has two selections from the principal meeting in Britain on Tuesday at Pontefract.
There is a decent card on offer at Pontefract this afternoon with the listed Pipalong Stakes the feature. However that looks a tricky one to work out and I prefer two of the handicaps instead for a couple of bets.
Pontefract 3.00: Tower Power
A 3yo with plenty of scope I am sure there is more to come from Tower Power and he is already beginning to deliver that potential early in his career. Still only rated 75 after securing his first win at Ripon last month, I suspect he is still a little ahead of the handicapper.
He had a low key start to his career, qualifying for his handicap mark by running in three maidens on the All Weather over the winter. By far his best effort came on his first try at this 10f trip in January when finishing third to Joyful Friend. He made his turf debut at Nottingham in May and despite some late each-way support, went off a largely unconsidered 20/1 shot. However he ran a very strong race running on strongly over a mile, just running out of time to catch Rough Courte.
I was at Nottingham that day and this is a really scopey colt who will improve with time. Given his size I thought he might not handle the undulations at Ripon on his last start, but he had no issues with the track at all as he was driven out to beat Aldreth by over 1l. Only given an extra 5lbs for that run, I suspect Pontefract’s stiff 10f will suit him much better. Any serious rain before racing would definitely be a disadvantage as his pedigree all suggests he needs fast going.
If conditions did deteriorate significantly I strongly suspect he would be withdrawn, in which case I can put in a bit of a word for Pats Legacy who would enjoy slower ground and ran well on debut for Marjorie Fife at Carlisle in May. However hopefully it will stay dry in which case Tower Power would be a confident choice.
Pontefract 4.30: Dark Castle
Bearing in mind he was a game winner of this race twelve months ago, it is perhaps surprising that we have not seen Dark Castle back at Pontefract until today, but he gets the chance to repeat that success from just a 4lb higher mark.
A horse who had shown useful form on the All Weather for Sylvester Kirk as a youngster, he joined Micky Hammond at the start of last season and came into some good form at this time last year, winning at Doncaster in late June before backing up that success with victory here. He continued that good form with placed efforts in good contests at York and Newmarket before losing his way in the autumn.
After a couple of moderate efforts early this season, he seems to be repeating last year’s trend with two better efforts in June, only narrowly going down to defeat at York before a close fourth at Doncaster last time. He does handle some cut as he ran well enough at Haydock in May, but I would certainly prefer it to stay dry if at all possible. His profile throughout his career does strongly suggest a stiff 6f is ideal as he always runs on too late on a flat track, whilst in a handful of efforts over 7f, his stamina just seems to ebb away late on. However this largely uphill 6f at Pontefract will be perfect and he has a handy draw in five too.
1pt win – Tower Power – 3.00 Pontefract (3/1 general)
1pt each-way – Dark Castle – 4.30 Pontefract (17/2 Bet365)