Percy Jones, a forecast 10/1 chance, will not be a surprise if causing one in the seventeen-runner Maiden Stakes over a mile of ‘good to soft’ Nottingham today; trainer Hughie Morrison is a shrewd cookie and must have had specific purpose sending this Sir Percy colt a long distance to Pontefract for his debut three weeks ago when ridden sensibly by Rob Hornby. Significantly David Probert replaces him, none better than ‘The Probe!’
Not an easy man to read is Hughie but he never wastes a race and always has specific targets for his horses which have visited the winners’ enclosure on a regular basis during 2021.
‘Ponte’ was very soft but Percy Jones shaped well in a ten furlongs slog until lack of experience and possibly fitness resulted in Hornby ‘looking after’ his mount in the final furlong where they lost second place in the race won by odds-on favourite Dillian, which represented a matter of indifference.
The majority of high-profile, experienced trainers aren’t too concerned about winning first-up and often use the first day at school as a definitive trial; journeying two-year-olds a considerable distance ‘makes or breaks’ them and Barry Hills believed in this ‘one-off’ practice earnestly, as I learned from twelve years with the ‘legend’ as private handicapper/advisor.
Eleven rivals to Percy Jones will be well-bred newcomers, most from fashionable yards, which makes for a process of elimination but juvenile racing at Colwick Park is notoriously tough and mine is about unearthing one with a good each-way chance on the time-handicap which is worth following. Probert is booked for a good reason!
David also partners experienced, hitherto luckless Mellow Magic for his guv’nor Andrew Balding in a shallow ‘aged’ Novice Stakes over fourteen furlongs; look no further for the winner, at odds-against this is a ‘professional special’ proposition
Only juvenile race on the obligatory eight-race Kempton polytrack meeting under glorious floodlighting is an eleven-runner Nursery Handicap over six furlongs which is definitely within capabilities of consistent, progressive Ishkaheen trained by David Coakley.
Ishkaheen meets criteria requirement judged on his last two efforts, one in a Bath handicap from a hopeless wide draw, and useful apprentice George Bass claims 5lbs allowance; enough boxes are ticked for a punt.
Selections, Nottingham, 1.05 Percy Jones (e.w); 4.25 Mellow Magic; Kempton, 5.15 Ishkaheen (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