Enfranchise has a gilt-edged opportunity of following-up in a six-runner Novice Stakes over the straight Newcastle tapeta surface tonight and I’ll bet Joe Fanning will be asked by his guv’nor Mark Johnston to sort out the wheat from the chaff with another determined front-running effort; pointless sitting behind inferior rivals and the Middleham-based ‘winning machine’ has made his reputation from positive tactics. They worked to a tee under Franny Norton at Pontefract six weeks ago.
Unless William Haggas-trained newcomer Sea Speedwell is above average (Enfranchise is rated 80-plus on my time-handicap!) this will probably be a procession; market moves will be closely monitored in what promises to be an intriguing scenario.
Cover Name, second in four consecutive outings, will certainly be backed to go one better and make it fifth time lucky in the concluding Fillies’ Novice Median Auction Stakes over six furlongs but remember ‘all that glitters is not gold!’
Consistency often brings reward but Cover Name comes out similarly to experienced Simon Whitaker-trained Liberty Breeze, an Equiano three-year-old which ran creditably over course and distance eighteen days ago in a handicap despite finishing ninth.
Prior to that Liberty Breeze was eleventh but beaten less than four lengths and this represents a tremendous drop in grade
My play, as ever, is about each-way prospects and after ‘process of elimination’ I’m strong on Liberty Breeze to make the first three at attractive odds.
There are no juvenile races but ‘good to soft’ Catterick opens with two eleven-runner divisions of the 2-y-o Novice Stakes over five furlongs and selections are Stylish Icon and Queen Spirit.
Both shaped well last month, the former particularly because Tom Tate’s charge showed good speed and led for a long despite being drawn unfavourably, which told in the closing stages of a stiff, uphill dash.
Queen Spirit was hampered first-up at Redcar seven weeks ago but still managed to finish only four and a half lengths off the well-regarded, heavily-backed winner Le Beau Garcon.
Think we’ll play an each-way yankee, with our selections, pushing the boat out a bit further than usual!
Selections, Catterick, 1.00 Stylish Icon (e.w); 1.30 Queen Spirit (e.w); Newcastle, 5.40 Enfranchise; 7.10 Liberty Breeze (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