Matt Gardner heads to Pontefract for Monday's Placepot action...
"Solar Spirit landed a couple of soft-ground handicaps earlier in the year and returned to his very best form when winning at Wolverhampton on his latest outing..."
14:20 - Plenty can be given a chance in the opening nursery but the pair to side with are Moorway and Topamichi. The former entered the Timeform Notebook after his most recent outing, when fourth at Wolverhampton, as he made eyecatching late headway without being knocked about. It is likely that he has more to offer and can see us safely through alongside Topamichi, who landed a heavy-ground maiden on his penultimate start before racing to freely upped to a mile and a quarter at Nottingham last time.
14:50 - Here's hoping that Tim Easterby has his string in fine fettle, as we will select two of his three representatives here. Medici Dancer showed marked improvement at Newcastle earlier this month when rallying well to finish second, eventually beaten just a neck on heavy ground. Her draw in stall 12 isn't ideal, but she ought to be vying for a place. Faffa is the one to take as a bit of back up, with the gelding having shaped well on debut at York. He is likely to come on for that experience, considerately handled as his effort flattened out, and the step up to six furlongs could suit.
15:20 - The compulsory non-runner in a 16-horse field leaves us with just three places to aim at but, in an attempt to save lines, we're going to take a calculated risk and select Solar Spirit as a banker. The seven-year-old landed a couple of soft-ground handicaps earlier in the year and returned to his very best form when winning at Wolverhampton on his latest outing, coming home with a bit in hand. Two next-time-out winners have emerged from that contest and the stiff track ought to aid him on a rare foray at the minimum trip, so he is a confident pick.
15:50 - Top Notch Tonto looks pretty solid but he's had a fair amount of racing this year and could be worth taking on with unexposed pair Pearl Reward and Willie The Whipper. The former offered something to work with on debut but was an entirely different proposition after four months off over C&D on soft ground, landing a maiden by eight lengths, and has to be respected here. The race Willie The Whipper won at Hamilton is unlikely to amount to much in terms of form, but he created a good impression with his style of success and should appreciate the step up to a mile.
16:20 - Spanish Fork has the potential to win this having triumphed over hurdles last month, but the two to have on side from a Placepot perspective are Jawaab, who has a higher mark to contend with having won his last two races but cannot be ruled out in his current form, and Blackstone Vegas, who has been below-par since his third over C&D in June but his mark has slipped and he ought to be in the firing line.
16:50 - A fairly open affair awaits us if we have made it this far, and a good starting point could be Kathleen Frances. The five-year-old is probably not one to side with for win purposes but she handles soft ground, is pretty consistent despite her weak-finishing tendencies and is likely to give it a decent go. The Tiger is less exposed than the vast majority of his rivals here and, having won a heavy-ground maiden at Ripon earlier in the year, could go well now returned to a softer surface.
14:20 - 5, 8
14:50 - 5, 11
15:20 - 5
15:50 - 5, 7
16:20 - 1, 5
16:50 - 7, 8
= 32 lines
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