The action starts on the turf at Catterick for a handicap qualifier just short of twelve-furlongs where the going is soft.
David Barron’s Play Nicely has been in fine form since the turn of the year winning three of four starts at Southwell, whose polytrack is the deepest synthetic surface meaning he shouldn’t have too many problems on this ground. He has won on soft ground previously too. His last win came by a head and his mark is unchanged from that. If handling the switch back to the turf then he is a key player.
Faiseur De Miracle is still unexposed after his win after Wolverhampton in a Maiden and the way he put the race to bed suggests the step-up in trip should suit. He was formerly with Mark Johnston for his sole start as a three-year-old but has since joined Micky Hammond, who is keen on his chances for this campaign. He is a half-brother to Best Name, who finished second in the French Derby, so has an interesting pedigree and could have more to offer.
Venetia Williams doesn’t have many horses to put on the flat but Live Miracle is one that runs here. Last since in a Hurdle race at Taunton finishing sixth of eight but this filly has won over eleven-furlongs in France on good ground, so could be a player at a double figure price. Her mark could be on the high side though.
Faiseur De Miracle (E/W if 9/2+)
We remain in Yorkshire for a five-furlong sprint, which usually is a race that falls into the ‘whose day is it to win’ category.
It’s an open affair with the current favourite Mrs Biggs at 6/1. The majority of her form comes on ground quicker than this plus over trips that are further. If they go off to fast then she could pick them off. Her two starts at this track have both yielded second’s suggesting she is suited by its sharp nature.
Neville Bycroft’s Adiator is a mare that does have a good record when running fresh – her form first time up reads 212. She has a win to her name on this sort of ground and tends to give her running. Her last run in November was a very close fourth of 19, so she will handle this field size. She looks to be a nice each-way play in this open contest.
Danish Duke is one horse that should have fitness on his side after running on the all-weather. Formerly trained in Ireland by David Wachmann before switching to Ruth Carr this five-year-old is yet to win on turf but has been a winner at Southwell. Tancred was a winner at Brighton in October and this stiff finish could play to his strengths as that win came over six-furlongs.
For our final selection we take a trip across the Irish Sea for the twilight card at Leopardstown.
A 22-runner handicap is just the place to possibly steal some value and last year’s winner of this race Mistiness could be the horse to do that. This five-year-old is lightly raced having only had six career starts. He took the race last year off the back of a break on similar ground, so have no concerns about his fitness. He was drawn lower last year but he did show ability. He disappointed when last seen when the blinkers were put on but he’ll be back in cheekpieces. Another big run from this son of Astronomer Royal looks to be in the offing.
Henry’s Girl started her career in bumpers for John Kiely but he has kept her on the flat and dropped her in trip. This test of stamina on soft ground could be ideal and she handled it when scoring at Wexford in July. She won quite nicely at Tramore on her last start of 2015 and only has gone up 4lb. She could have more to offer and with Pat Smullen booked the yard could mean business.
Whats The Plot was fourth on his final start of last season in a race won by Lagostovegas, who has since gone over obstacles and bumped into Footpad and Ivanovich Gorbatov. Form wise that race has worked out well enough and the fact this son of Alfred Nobel has been dropped back to his last winning mark. His win at Roscommon came on the back of a three-month absence and he is one that is likely to have more to offer this campaign.