Wednesday 28 June 2017

Markab has what it takes

Wayne Bailey

THE American novelist Rachel Field once said that "too much good fortune can make you smug and unaware" and, while she wasn't specifically talking about gambling, I definitely think her words lend themselves to the sport of kings.

Last week was a good one for the 'Betting Ring' column and I'd a nice few bob on one of the winners, Dream Ahead, at 7/1.

It was a breakthrough win for Hayley Turner as it was the first outright Group One win for a female jockey. Instead of being happy with my lot and pocketing the money, I felt a bit smug and decided to play up the winnings on some later races.

It's always a bad idea to back horses on a whim after a win, but a few pints of stout saw my guard drop and I promptly lost half my profit. Thankfully, I copped myself on before the whole lot was gone, but it's a reminder once again that good fortune, alcohol and betting can end up being a devilish trio.

At least I've kept some of it aside, though, and the remaining few quid is being kept safe until the Group Three Shadwell Stakes (2.20) at Newbury, for which Markab is the stand-out selection, priced around 10/3.

Fast

He started as the 9/4 favourite in this race last year, but he can be excused for his disappointing sixth place as he went off too fast and couldn't hold the pace.

Connections have learned a lot since and the colt stepped up to the mark when asked in the Group One Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock, priced at a juicy 12/1.

Fair enough, he hasn't done much on his latest two outings this season, but at least he's shaken off the cobwebs and if he runs anyway near his true form today, he'll be very hard to beat.

The likely favourite, Deacon Blues, is obviously a big danger to the bet and deserves respect for beating a big field in the Wokingham Stakes at Ascot last time; although he's yet to prove himself outside of the handicaps and I'm not yet convinced that he's a Group horse just yet.

Pastoral Player is another one to watch. He was third in the Wokingham and seems to be on the right track, but he's a temperamental sort and can't always be trusted to give you a fair run for your money.

If there's a fly in the ointment it may be Regal Parade, which won this race easily last year. He's a dual Group One winner, so is proven at this level, although he was no match for the selection later on in the aforementioned Betfred Sprint Cup.

It could be tight, but Markab is a fair price today and should have what it takes to land the lion's share of the 50 grand.

Shortly afterwards, it might be worth taking a chance on Meeznah in the Aphrodite Stakes at Newmarket (2.35).

She was second in the Epsom Oaks last year (although she was disqualified later), and while it's over a year since she last won a race, she's a consistent sort which can be relied upon to give it her best, priced around 11/4.

EACH-WAY outsider

Rajnagan (2.05 Market Rasen) is building a nice picket fence beside his name and made it four wins in a row when taking the Pallasades Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle at Stratford last time. He had plenty in hand then and carries a penalty for that win, but I still feel that the handicapper has some catching up to do and his early odds of 6/1 are generous under these conditions.

* Last week's each-way selection, Western Pearl, was placed at 25/1.

TODAY'S SELECTIONS

2.00 Newmarket: Diamondhead

2.05 Market Rasen: Rajnagan (e/w)

2.20 Newbury: Markab

2.35 Newmarket: Meeznah

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