Warmest favourite of the day will be Hoofalong in the 5f maiden at 14:40, and he stands head and shoulders over his rivals on the basis of a highly-promising debut at York in May.
The formbook doesn't lie, we're told, but it can be frustratingly silent on salient issues, such as why we haven't seen Mick Easterby's colt since. In fact we have, but he had to be withdrawn on his latest intended outing at Newcastle last month having disgraced himself both in the parade ring and at the start on that occasion. The fact that he took so long to get back to a racecourse suggests that he's shown similar "high spirits" at home, and such information is vital for would be punters.
With the favourite looking in need of a trip to the vet to cure his waywardness, this looks a good opportunity to oppose him while his odds reflect his form and not his temperament. The answer in this case looks to be Gold Beau who ran well when third in a C&D nursery last time. That form looked just fair at the time, but the selection finished just in front of Rhagori Aur there, and that one went on to land a competitive event at Musselburgh last time to add some lustre to the Beverley race.
Gold Beau was strong at the finish on that occasion, and the slightly stiffer test afforded by the easier ground should play to his strengths. Linda Stubbs has had two winners and as many placed from just nine runners in the last month, and that's another positive, as is the booking of the mercurial Graham Lee. It goes without saying that an on-song Hoofalong will prove hard to beat, but that is notion is more than factored into the current odds, and Gold Beau looks a fair wager.
Amateur riders' races aren't everyone's cup of tea, which may explain why I was given both divisions of the Brian & Jason Merrington Memorial Handicap, which end Beverley's card, to write up for the www.timeform.com/free site. I'm glad I did, though, as both races have thrown up betting propositions which may be missed by some.
In the first division at 17:10, Tiger Webb has such compelling claims that he looks overpriced, even as favourite. Mick Easterby's runner is on a mark fully 2-stone lower than when first sent handicapping by Sir Henry Cecil, and the son of Hurricane Run served notice that his time was near when an unlucky runner-up over C&D last month. He found his stamina stretched when running a creditable race at Musselburgh last time, and returns to this venue against largely out-of-form rivals. Thrown in a draw close to the favoured rail, and the assistance of the estimable Serena Brotherton, and his claims become very compelling indeed.
The finale is tougher, but there is a potential blot on the handicap in the shape of Cool Baranca. Dianne Sayer's mare has improved over hurdles in the last year, and wasn't discredited in the grandly titled Summer Champion Hurdle at Perth last month. That followed a good second on the Flat at Carlisle over 17f, a trip which almost certainly stretches the daughter of Beat Hollow, and while it may be that 12f suits her ideally, the likely helter-skelter pace here should help in that regard.
It's hard to believe that a mark of 49 doesn't underplay her raw talent in this sphere, and she's preferred to Dean Iarracht, who has taken a division of this event in the last two years, and merits respect under last year's winning pilot Richard Smith.
Back Tiger Webb @ 4.1 in the 17:10 at Pontefract (NAP)
Back Gold Beau @ 10.09/1 in the 14:40 at Pontefract (NAP)
Back Cool Baranca @ 4.84/1 in the 17:40 at Pontefract