The fourth race on tonight's card at Dundalk sees young apprentice jockeys get a share of the limelight in this all apprentice riders race over seven furlongs. The race is only open to three year olds so all eleven runners make their three year old debut.
Current favourite is former course and distance winner Drish Melody who claimed a solid success here last time out at a massive 50/1. She could follow that win up with another victory but I just feel a 7lb rise in weight might be too much for her to overcome.
The Joseph O'Brien trained Sangria "won" here at Dundalk previously before having the race stripped due to a jockey weight allowance issue. I'm sure connections will want to atone for that error but since then she's been pretty disappointing. I'd expect her to finish there or thereabouts but isn't the most obvious victor.
In what seems a very open contest I'm going to opt for an outsider at a bigger price who the bookmakers seem to have overlooked. Clarinbirdge is a five race maiden who's best performance came over this course and distance. She finished 3rd of 9 back here in November in what looks a better race than this. Off a more attractive mark and with a better draw this time around I think her current double figure odds look too good to resist.
With just the one runner and one ride for both trainer and jockey Shane Kelly and Johnny Murtagh you have to feel their sole runner Chargo has a very lively chance. The form of her sole start reads well with two of her rivals that day already tasting previous success prior to that contest. Some major yards were also represented and she showed much more than most that day. She'll have learnt plenty for her sole racecourse appearance and looks more than capable of winning a race of this nature.
Based on connections alone you'll be wise to keep a close eye on the market for Forgetmenotblue who would be interesting if attracting any support in the betting and at a bigger price Lakewood should be another who improves for their run last month.
Despite not ending up in the winners enclosure in her last 16 starts I still can't shake off the notion that Miss Cunning has a big run in her sooner rather than later. A promising performance to finish 5th here last Friday shows she still retains plenty of ability and a step up back to the one mile trip should also be of benefit. She finished 2nd when last tackling this course and distance and now with 10lbs less weight on her back than claiming her last win all roads point towards a solid performance for the Kevin Prendergast trained five year old. She's far from a guaranteed winner but I'd be surprised if she didn't finish in the placings.
Fellow course and distance winner Burning Lake was a mightily disappoiting favourite when way down the field last time out. Although he's won here numerous times before, the handicapper has got a very firm grip on him and seems to be content in filling the spot of bridesmad at the moment. Five placed finishes from his last seven starts indicates it'd be foolish to rule him out but I'm happy to take on the 3/1 market principle.
Anjah is yet to shake off their maiden tag in 16 career efforts but has shown enough to suggest they could grab a place at a bigger price.
MISS CUNNING (E/W)
The first of two selections from the Midlands this evening sees me side with top jockey Hollie Doyle who's set to climb aboard the Charlie Wallis trained Lorna Cole for the first time. The yard are going well recently claiming a win with their last runner here at Wolverhampton. The former course and distance winner has a good record here with a win and a place form her last three C&D starts. She's now on a very attractive mark and although she's not the most prolific this race won't take that much winning in what looks a pretty poor standard.
Of course The Tron deserves his spot as favourite after his recent success and with connections trying to get another victory into him before he's burdened with a bigger weight in the future he doesn't offer that much value.
LORNA COLE (E/W)
No doubt I'll have plenty of puzzled looks by selecting a horse who's best finish in his last five performances was 10th. Yet here I am opting to take a chance in the lucky last with Jackmel. The eight year old is one of the most senior runners in the race but despite his advancing age he hasn't had the toughest career. As an example fellow entrants Indiana Grey, Philly's Hope and Take My Hand are all reasonably younger aged 6, 5 and 5 respectively yet all of them have had 30 or more career starts. This is opposed to Jackmel who's on 27. In essence I'm saying don't let his age put you off. As a horse who likes to be up near the pace I'm happy enough with his draw this evening and although a massive chance has to be taken that he's going to put his recent perfroamnces behind him if he's anywhere near his best he could play a much bigger part than many expect and is weighted to do so.
The previously mentioned Philly's Hope gave connections a very encouraging sign when 4th here on her most recent start and looks a worthy alternative to the selection.
In the penultimate race on the card at Wolverhampton I'm hoping Fair And Square can finally claim his first win at what will be the eleventh time of asking. Ron Harris's three year old finished 3rd in his sole course and distance start and reproduction of that effort should be enough to see him play a major part. Another positive is the fact he's attracted plenty of support from punters already so if you're looking to get on I'd urge you to do so sooner rather than later.
The most intriguing rival is David O'Meara's Coolmeen Vega who's done very little in three runs on the turf in Ireland so far. With a switch to O'Meara's yard likely to bring about improvement a massive up-turn in form may be on the cards now making his stable debut.
FAIR AND SQUARE (E/W)
written by Rory Paddock