Posh Bird looks a grand bet
Ian Ogg picks out his bet of the day, best longshot, a winning distance special and looks ahead to a big day for Ian Popham and the start of the Dubai Carnival.
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The air was filled with the acrid smell of burning flesh last month when Haftohaf was beaten into second by Atlantis Crossing after being backed on course from 11/10 into 4/6 but Marco Botti's charge is worth another chance to set the record straight this evening.
A slowly run race over seven furlongs saw him take too long to get into stride on that occasion so it's no surprise to see the son of Haafhd stepped up to a mile by his talented handler.
A winner of his first two starts, he's headed the market on every start suggesting that connections have a high opinion of him and it will be disappointing - and surprising - if he can't cope with a 1lb rise for his latest outing.
That form is working out satisfactorily with the winner and fourth making the frame next time out and the seventh winning well, albeit in a lower grade.
Another day, another National with today offering us the North Yorkshire Grand National for the Denys Smith Challenge Trophy.
Pentiffic heads the market following his win at Musselburgh but conditions will be far more testing here than they were in Scotland which I don't believe will suit Venetia Williams' charge while he might not get his own way in front.
Conditions are also against the well handicapped but out of form King Fontaine but look ideal for last year's winner Posh Bird who can be backed to enjoy repeat success at around 14/1.
Peter Niven's mare has only won twice but she's been the model of consistency since joining his yard and followed up her victory in this race with good seconds at Ayr and in the Eider.
That sees her racing from an 18lb higher mark but she clearly relishes a thorough stamina test and this mark doesn't look beyond her on her Newcastle form.
She had a nice pipe-opener at Musselburgh last month and should be spot on for her attempt to regain her crown.
Racing at Meydan has been ticking over for a while now but today's card is the first of the Dubai Carnival and there's a terrific day's sport ahead.
Belgian Bill heads the weights in the opening handicap at 3.05 and is just one of a host of familiar names with a good sprinkling of representatives from Britain and Ireland throughout the day.
The feature contest is the Group Two Al Maktoum Challenge R1 at 5.25 in which Fulbright makes his debut for Mahmood Al Zarooni following a terrific season with Mark Johnston.
Catterick may not have the same cache as Meydan but I don't imagine that will bother Ian Popham one iota as the conditional jockey returns to action.
Popham broke his pelvis in three places back in September 2011, not long after joining Martin Keighley's yard, and didn't return to action until July of last year.
In October he was unshipped before the start of a race at Plumpton, breaking his pelvis in four places although, on this occasion, he didn't require surgery.
The former has failed to win in 29 starts over hurdles (placed 15 times) so it may be expecting a bit much for that to change today but the latter is particularly interesting as he's the first foal of a half-sister to the smart Back In Front and the yard's runners in this sphere always merit a second look.
Back to the North Yorkshire Grand National and the temptation in staying contests is to go long on the winning distances but the value may lie in going low.
There have been seven runnings of this event and the winning margin has never been more than five lengths with Posh Bird doing the business by that margin 12 months ago.
Three renewals have been won by three and three and a half lengths twice but the remainder have seen terrific tussles resulting in margins of a length, half a length and a short-head.
The three length to 6.5 length inclusive quote of 13/8 is tempting but this looks to be a very competitive renewal of this 0-135 handicap and the result could go down to the wire.