Say Grace is primed and ready to win a fourteen-runner Nursery Handicap over six furlongs of Newcastle polytrack tonight; under fabulous floodlights, on the fairest racetrack in the United Kingdom, this Rae Guest-trained Kodiac filly goes into battle having achieved a career-best time-handicap mark three weeks ago on a similar surface around the popular Wolverhampton left-handed circuit.
An improvement of 5lbs and sufficient recovery time, plus booking of championship-chasing William Buick, provides enough ticked boxes for inclusion into either the trixie or daily patent bets which suit my modus operandi, based around only three selections.
At this time of year, if you prefer, level stake punting is not discouraged with prices often much better, especially in nurseries.
Whenever betting in two-year-old handicaps it often pays to use previous nursery form to good advantage; juveniles benefit tremendously from such experience and Say Grace, hopefully, will prove a classic example on a track with no draw bias whatsoever.
Buick also partners Charles Hills’ long distance raider Moqadama, a Dark Angel filly which is advantaged by a fillies’ allowance in the ten-runner 3-y-o Maiden Stakes over seven furlongs but preference is for Willard Creek, also twice-raced, from the powerful Thirsk complex of David Barron, one of the best trainers on this planet.
It’s a bold statement but Barron is in a league of his own when plotting targets for thoroughbreds; he’s patient and an absolute maestro at producing the goods for substantial gambles. His owners, one in particular, must have made fortunes when the Southwell fibresand was opened in 1989 and ‘we’ had many battles at the Nottinghamshire all-weather track.
Those fantastic days were during the Elton Ledger era; my game and genuine old warrior, winner in my colours sixteen times, continually thwarted Barron gambles and I became victim of considerable angst from David but my respect for him has remained undiminished.
Willard Creek has the call, on the back of his last time out course and distance second, and looks a solid each-way proposition under Jason Hart, a formidable jockey on the Northern scene. A good, competitive race, full of intrigue.
Rest of the eight-race card looks too difficult but earlier Bellaney Gem looks gilt-edged for an eight-runner NH Novices’ Hurdle over two miles of ‘good’ Hexham; find one to beat this Irish-trained Doyen mare, I can’t!
Selections, Hexham, 2.20 Bellaney Gem; Newcastle, 6.30 Willard Creek (e.w); 7.00 Say Grace (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