THE jumps season is officially done and dusted, and The Weekend Punt is back for the Flat.
Our man Jack Keene has picked out his best bets on ITV and is hoping to fire in a few more big-priced winners.
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Rejoice – the Flat 'proper' is back this weekend. From now until mid-October there is nothing but top-class Flat action. You love to see it.
It's Guineas weekend in Newmarket, and with it comes any number of punting opportunities. I haven't put up any selections since the Lincoln meeting, so I'm fresh as a daisy and ready to kick on.
The only place to start is the 2000 Guineas itself. The race is lacking a superstar this year, but that only makes it a more interesting betting heat.
You have to respect the high-class Aidan O'Brien pair Wembley and Battleground, but there are a couple at decent prices that interest me.
We'll start with POETIC FLARE (3.40 Newmarket) first. He's a smart colt and the only blip on his record came in the Dewhurst (behind a few of these) in October last year.
But he was locked away on the inside with nowhere to go for most of the race, and the ground was tacky and hard work.
Plus, it was just his second career start (after a winning debut over 5f before the Covid shutdown six months earlier) so it may have been too tall a task for one so inexperienced taking on proven Group-class colts.
But his record is unblemished since then – he bounced back with a comfortable Group 3 win to round off his campaign and returned in great nick at Leopardstown earlier this month, showing a good change of gear in a steadily-run race.
He likes to race handily, which could be a big plus here as there doesn't appear to be an abundance of pace in this 15-runner field, and on breeding he should improve as a three-year-old. Jim Bolger knows what it takes to win this race and his horse is on an upward curve.
The one who looks overpriced to me is LUCKY VEGA, who, lest we forget, bolted up in the Phoenix Stakes last summer.
Yes, he was only fifth behind Thunder Moon and Wembley in the National Stakes, but he was absolutely murdered in the run and picked up strongly when in the clear.
He was then a clear second in the Middle Park on his final start, when he handled the dip well and saw his race out strongly, meaning he finished the year with a rating of 116 – just 2lb behind the top horse Wembley.
On breeding (and the way he saw his races out as a two-year-old) there is plenty of optimism about him going up to a mile. He will love the fast ground, and if this race isn't run at a breakneck gallop, his proven speed will come in handy.
In the Palace House, GARRUS (2.25 Newmarket) can show the field a clean pair of heels.
He is a horse who has had his issues, but he has plenty of back-class and returned from a long lay-off to win cosily at Wolverhampton in March.
He went down fighting by a neck to the re-opposing Came From The Dark at Newbury last time, but he found himself in front way sooner than ideal and was just picked off late.
He was giving 4lbs to that rival that day, but they meet of levels here so you would have to fancy his chances of turning that form on it's head.
He is all speed and loves fast ground, so this flying 5f will suit him ideally, and the main danger Lazuli has to carry a penalty.
Saturday & Sunday selections (advised odds correct at time of writing)
2.25 Newmarket – Garrus 1pt WIN @ 11-2
3.40 Newmarket – Poetic Flare 1pt EW @ 12-1
3.40 Newmarket – Lucky Vega 1pt EW @ 22-1
2.25 Newmarket – Sea Karats 2pts WIN @ 9-4
- (Column started August 6) rolling P&L: +31.3pts
And on Sunday, SEA KARATS (2.25 Newmarket, Sunday) looks golden in the Pretty Polly.
William Haggas-trained debutants are rarely fully wound-up, so it was striking that she was so well-backed first time out in a hot race at Newbury.
She was denied a clear run at a crucial stage and was doing all of her best work late in the day, beaten just a neck into third. That experience will have done her the world of good and word is that she is very highly-regarded.
She is beautifully-bred, by Sea The Stars and a sister to smart stayer Al Aasy, and the Haggas yard have started the season like a house on fire. She is a very exciting prospect for middle distances this year and could put herself in the Oaks picture with victory here.
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