Kevin Blake picks two bets on a busy Saturday afternoon, backing Andrew Balding's successful season to continue at Newmarket and Staxton to win again at Ripon...
"Andrew Balding has already passed the 100-winner mark for 2021 and is on track to secure career-best tallies in every category this year. Goolwa has been responsible for two of those wins..."
The ITV cameras will be sent in all directions on Saturday, covering races at Newmarket, Newbury and Ripon. It will make for a fast-paced show full of competitive action and hopefully I can point you in the way of a couple of winners.
Goolwa can keep Balding's great run going
While the Mansionbet Bet £10 Get £20 Fillies' Handicap at Newmarket (14:00) isn't one of the higher-profile races of the day, it does present one of the more attractive betting opportunities of the day.
Andrew Balding is enjoying a season of all seasons, having already passed the 100-winner mark for 2021 and being on track to secure career-best tallies in every category this year. Goolwa has been responsible for two of those wins, namely in a novice race and a fillies' handicap at Kempton.
The latter success is perhaps the most notable, as it illustrated that the daughter of Australia is still very much progressing. Having briefly looked in trouble on the approach to the straight, Goolwa looked better and better the further she went, eventually running out the authoritative winner.
A 4lb rise for that win seems fair and the key to her chance is the likelihood that stepping up to this longer trip will bring about even more improvement. She certainly looks to be ready for the stamina test it will present and she may well prove to be too progressive for her older and more exposed rivals.
Staxton to add to Ripon wins
Over at Ripon, the William Hill Great St Wilfred (15:45) will be the big betting race of the weekend and it could well see a repeat of last year with Staxton being favoured to take the spoils once again.
The six-year-old seems like he has been around for longer than he has, but he has been a feature in many of the top sprint handicaps for a number of years now and has certainly held his own.
Staxton gained the biggest win of his career when winning last year's renewal of this race, making most of the running to win with authority off a mark of 88.
That was just one highlight in what has been a bit of a love affair between Staxton and Ripon, as his six starts there have yielded three wins, a second, a third and a fifth. The most recent of those wins came last April off a mark of 91, which makes his current mark of 92 look exploitable.
While his most recent run at Goodwood won't have set everyone alight, I'm happy to forgive it as the ground was riding heavy there and that is softer than he seems to want it.
He would ideally be drawn higher than he is, but with him being a forward-goer that might well help make the running, he will hopefully be able to move across to what may well be the favoured near side.
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