Azure Blue, one of two Michael Dods declarations, is just about good enough to go one better and make it third time lucky in the class 4 fourteen-runner Novice Stakes over seven furlongs of ‘good to firm’ Ayr today, trip is my only concern.
On my time-handicap Azure Blue is the target, and right call, judged on recent form which saw this El Kabeir (USA) filly finish second to raging hot William Haggas-trained favourite Perfect News on the stiff Carlisle course last month; only half a length separated the principals because jockey Paul Mulrennan persisted.
On actual time-figures Azure Blue improved about 10lbs on a promising Redcar debut three weeks earlier; will Mulrennan fall into the old trap and hold up his mount to get the trip?
If only I knew he’d adopt positive tactics and use the superior speed of Azure Blue, advantaged by 5lbs fillies’ allowance, this would be a maximum bet but, unlike when I owned horses and enjoyed familiarity with every trainer on racecourses, I’m no longer in control.
For what it’s worth Tim Easterby-trained Forgivable, an Iffraaj colt which has a similar profile, is clear second-best and on a retrieving mission but I’m confident about my assessment; betting-wise I’ll play an each-way trixie into Dark Swansong fifteen minutes later in an eleven-runner Maiden Stakes over seven furlongs of ‘good to soft’ Newbury, a wonderful venue for serious betting with so many ‘non-triers’ the norm!
My modus operandi is dictated by routine, part of which, especially in juvenile races, determines experience of at least two runs, and is so important; Dark Swansong meets all median criteria and with Adam Kirby riding for his extremely canny, successful boss, Clive Cox, this Dark Angel colt is a confident selection.
Third leg will be Ginger Du Val, one of eight runners in a Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over an extended two miles of ‘good’ ground Newton Abbot where I actually made my racecourse debut as a race-reader decades ago. It’s a unique NH course where programming is superbly balanced and caters for all punting needs.
Ginger Du Val rates a ‘special’ with rapidly-aspiring amateur Ben Bromley claiming 7lbs allowance; that’s unlikely to last much longer!
Jockeyship is my focus, sometimes it’s enough to drive me to drink with vexation, a reason why ‘marrying’ with solid TH selections is imperative.
Stick with me and all my foibles!
Selections, Ayr, 1.00 Azure Blue (e.w); Newbury, 1.15 Dark Swansong; Newton Abbot, 3.03 Ginger Du Val (e.w).
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