Tom all set to land the ‘Oscar’ at Ponte!

Sea Oscar will be on an urgent retrieving mission in a shallow-looking Maiden Stakes over a mile of ‘good to firm’ Pontefract this afternoon, absolutely imperative this William Haggas-trained Sea The Stars filly gains ‘winning brackets’ for stud purposes and championship-chasing stable jockey Tom Marquand will be mindful of the responsibility.

Following a promising debut over a similar distance at Goodwood last month Sea Oscar was a heavily-backed favourite under Richard Kingscote four weeks later, over a quarter of a mile further on Wolverhampton tapeta but, from an outside draw was ‘never at the races’ and trailed in fifth (of 10!), beaten more than nine lengths.

‘You can’t beat the draw’ is a favourite maxim of this vastly experienced writer and especially on the round left-handed Dunstall Park circuit where jockeys are often in a quandary when racing wide; how much more ground covered is anyone’s guess and ‘Kingy’ wisely gave up the chase some way from home. It was noted!

Given the opposition on this occasion I’m prepared to give Sea Oscar the benefit of any doubt and select her to make it third time lucky under the characteristic persistence of Marquand whose ride on our 3/1 winner Burning Bush last week was a revelation. We need to be with these top jockeys for serious betting purposes.

They are few and far between nowadays with so many non-descript handicaps saturing racing programmes but it’s my job to unearth good value opportunities and consistent Kentucky Hardboot looks a classic example under Jack Quinlan for a seven-runner Novices’ Hurdle over two miles of ‘good’ ground Uttoxeter.

‘Kentucky’, second twice since winning unchallenged under Jack around Huntingdon in May, comes out clear ‘top-rated’ on my time-handicap which has often been devastating in ‘summer-jumping’ campaigns and a consistent source of income. ‘Hardboot’ should be able to kick his rivals into touch; what a great name!

So is Knotty Ash, expected to follow up a facile Stratford debut success recently for the racing family Skelton, a major force on the National Hunt scene.

Harry is champion jockey, I mentioned last season how superior he was on the extensive ‘Racing Research’ computer championship data and, hopefully, you took the advice and backed him at good odds to beat Brian Hughes and now-retired veteran Richard Johnson.

Selections, Uttoxeter, 1.10 Knotty Ash; 2.15 Kentucky Hardboot; Pontefract, 4.40 Sea Oscar.

Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019