A Maiden Auction Stakes over 6f on soft going. Quite a restricted race type. A mix of colts, fillies & geldings. Not far from an egg and spoon race!
Ten two-year-olds take part. A couple of the more fancied juveniles have ample race experience if not fully exposed.
The betting suggests this is a four-horse race with the next best priced 20/1.
Owners and trainers will breathe a sigh of relief if victory comes their way.
Certainly, three of the four look exposed with one horse, perhaps, the ace in the hand.
John Quinn's two-year-old string has not hit the headlines this season. Of late, he has achieved a win or two so the yard may be bullish about the chances of the once-raced Benjamin Thomas. This bay colt is a son of Mayson who finished runner-up on debut over course and distance. He drifted in the betting but was pretty well found in the market at 10/1. In many respects, that didn't look the strongest heat. Father McKenzie had a string of placed efforts but powered home to win with ease. The third horse hadn't shown much ability and disappointed since. This 25,000G breeze-up purchase should improve for that debut. Most of the opposition look like fighters trapped on the ropes, while this chap may be seen as a budding, Mohammed Ali. I fear he will offer little value if becoming the punters' fixation with exposed horses to beat.
Henry Spiller is a new trainer to the ranks and knows a decent horse when he sees one. Broughton's Story is a bay colt who has run three times and went well enough on his second start at Wolverhampton over 6f. This son of Royal Applause finished fourth at odds of 50/1. He finished three lengths behind the third which does bring slight concerns he may have been flattered. This February foal stepped up in distance next time out when made favourite but clipped heels and unseated his rider. A relatively cheap yearling purchase, he was struggling for pace and didn't look the fastest horse on four legs before stumbling. A tricky juvenile to assess but one I would watch after his last misdemeanor.
Nigel Tinkler doesn't have many two-year-olds in training and the majority are of limited ability. Sheepscar Lad looked a prime candidate for the wooden spoon after finishing last on his debut at Thirsk. However, this Irish-bred gelding, a son of Arcano, nearly made the bookmaker's day when he cast aside his calipers when stepping back to the minimum trip at Beverley losing by a head at odds of 40/1. He cost £30,000 at the breeze-up sales. His mother [Picadilly Filly] was a talent winning at Listed class and placed up to Group 1 for trainer Edward Creighton [the best horse Ed had in his career]. Sheepscar Lad ran well at this course over 5f when runner-up but he does seem rather in and out of form. It is most likely that he isn't the greatest standard with an official rating of just 68 and that is the issue rather than having good 'n' bad days. He wasn't disgraced at York when stepping up to five and a half furlong, running on, so perhaps this extra yardage may help. He is a tricky customer but you wouldn't say he can't win because a couple of efforts have been less than one length away.
Lucky Mistake has been runner-up on no less than four of his six races. This Irish-bred son of Fast Company, trained by Richard Fahey, has been a model of consistency and perhaps should have been called Unlucky Mistake. A relatively cheap yearling purchase at just 10,000G he must have had a few punters close to tears with losses at 1/2f, 4/9f & 1/1f. If you have been on each of those you deserve a medal as well as a decent return. Once again, (Un)Lucky Mistake is strong in the betting second-favourite at 15/8 behind John Quinn's charge (whose doing the Ali Shuffle). Will this February foal be second again? If you have bet on each of those losses it would be rude not to poke your hand in your pocket for a conciliatory tenner. God forbid if Benjamin Thomas drifts in the betting and ''Lucky'' starts favourite!
Conclusion: I often refer to lowly auction maidens as egg and spoon races. Unflattering. This isn't quite that standard because Benjamin Thomas may bring light to the occasion. This will probably be as good chance as he finds. I'm not sure if I would jump in at short odds. Lucky Mistake has the ability but those second places don't inspire his victims to return with hot cash. Sheepscar Lad is a law unto himself. He does like Pontefract. I think. Broughton's Story has something to prove in my book but he did unseat his rider last time which may have hidden those Pegasus wings. Not a betting race for me. But, in its own way, a fascinating little contest. Whoever wins, it will make connections day. Good luck.