13:15 Pontefract

BARNEYS GIFT (best price 11-1) might have been 0-4 when trained in France but showed plenty of ability and speed over this sort of trip and is fancied to provide the most resistance to the favourite in the latter stages of this soft-ground novice’ stakes event on debut for Phil Kirby. 

This two-year-old, owned by Darren Yates, has remained in the same ownership since trained in France and had placed twice over this trip in July but it was his latest fifth that has attracted the attention. The form of that race has worked out strongly, with four subsequent winners emerging from either behind or in front of Phil Kirby’s charge. The anticipated soft ground will be to his liking and, on the assumption Billy Garritty can utilise his valuable three-pounds claim and grab a prominent early position, this Colt by Johnny Barnes is a major each-way player. 

Barneys Gift - 0.5pts e/w @ 11/1

13:45 Pontefract

The Richard Fahey-trained GRIFTER (best price 9-2) isn’t perhaps the most progressive candidate in the field but it’s difficult to lay aside his consistency having posted another creditable effort in defeat when fourth at York last time and is a solid each-way proposition in this weaker grade. 

He’s a versatile sort regarding the trip having reached the frame over five-furlongs, six-furlongs and a mile with probably the best effort coming over today’s trip when keeping on to be third at Ayr, splitting horses rated 75 and higher. His latest fourth at York, however, was another perfectly respectable effort as he was right in behind the 89-rated Dark Moon Rising, a horse who I really like, and that form alone makes his mark of 75 eminently workable in this lower-grade assignment. He’s drawn well in stall three and should be well equipped for this admittedly easier test with Billy Garritty taking off three-pounds and four places on the table, too. 

Grifter - 0.5pts e/w @ 9/2

Micky Hammond’s FIFTYSHADESARESDEV (best price 11-2) has run creditably here the last two times and, with plenty of optimism that he will get this longer trip based on his finishing efforts here recently, he looks a key player with four places widely available. 

This improving youngster has finished like a steam train the last three times, including here over six-furlongs. Firstly, when beaten half-a-length last month and then when coming from an unpromising position to be nearest the finish in fourth here a fortnight ago. He left the impression that the step up in trip would be in his favour and this looks a weaker event with PJ McDonald booked for the ride. I think that the latest piece of form is the strongest on display given the winner is rated 85, the runner-up is rated 79 and the third returned a next time out winner off a mark of 70 at Redcar. The draw could have been a little kinder but, unlike most of his rivals, he’s very well-handicapped and I’m happy to take a punt on him improving past them.

Fiftyshadesaresdev - 0.5pts e/w @ 11/2

15:30 Pontefract

A lot of these can be given a chance but the one who appeals most is Richard Fahey’s SEASETT (best price 17-2) who acquitted himself well over this trip in a higher-grade affair when last spotted and has the ammunition to have a say in the outcome now eased in grade with conditions in his favour. 

He had opened his account at Nottingham in May and matched that form when runner-up in a class two event next time, splitting horses rated 87, 90 and 99. He failed to make an impact in two subsequent starts including at Royal Ascot but was sent off just 15/2 for that stronger event so he was clearly expected to figure a lot better and wasn’t disgraced on return from a three-month break at Leicester last time when tackling this trip for the first time in his career. He’ll find this race a lot less demanding and, in the hope that this drop in class has the desired effect, he has an excellent chance of being very competitive. 

Seasett - 0.5pts e/w @ 8/1

17:15 Pontefract

EY UP IT’S MAGGIE (best price 5-1) ran really well in a competitive heat at York's Ebor meeting last month as well as finishing fourth back there behind a subsequent winner ten days ago and, having scored in good style the last time we saw her in this grade, Tony Coyle’s filly must have solid claims back down in grade with four places widely on offer. 

She has been keeping stronger company than this during 2021, running with credit in most of them, as well as winning in this grade at Carlisle earlier in the term. She hasn’t been beaten far in all of her last five outings in either class-2 or class-3 events, including multiple times at York since winning at Carlisle, and this represents a drop in class. I can envisage her being ridden close to the pace which is a distinct advantage to have around here and she should make a bold bid to get back on the scoresheet as a lot of her rivals have something to prove at present.

Ey Up It's Maggie - 0.5pts e/w @ 5/1