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Ex marks the spot for Fahey at Pontefract

 

Exhort has provided plenty of encouragement that she can carry out a successful return mission to Pontefract in the Sky Bet Go-Racing-In-Yorkshire Summer Festival Pomfret Stakes. (stock photo)
Exhort has provided plenty of encouragement that she can carry out a successful return mission to Pontefract in the Sky Bet Go-Racing-In-Yorkshire Summer Festival Pomfret Stakes. (stock photo)

By David Clough

Exhort has provided plenty of encouragement that she can carry out a successful return mission to Pontefract in the Sky Bet Go-Racing-In-Yorkshire Summer Festival Pomfret Stakes.

Richard Fahey's filly was largely unconsidered in the market over the same course and distance almost three weeks ago.

But she belied her starting price of 25-1 as she showed a liking for this stiff track and delivered a withering late run to mow down back-to-form 2018 1000 Guineas heroine Billesdon Brook and previous York winner Agincourt.

Cheveley Park Stud's four-year-old has shown her true colours exclusively on quick ground so far this summer, but she has useful back form on soft and heavy too.

Unlike some of her rivals therefore, the threat of weekend rain in Yorkshire is no obvious detriment to her chances on Sunday - whether it comes to pass or not.

Exhort faces several worthy opponents, of course, in Listed class again and against the colts and geldings this time.

Richard Hannon's Oh This Is Us is a regular and also most consistent at this level - while three-year-olds I Could Do Better and Marie's Diamond have contrasting but highly respectable profiles.

I Could Do Better has a debut victory over subsequent Group One heavyweight King Of Comedy on his brief CV - and has moved from Keith Dalgleish to Ian Williams since this month's easy, long odds-on Catterick win.

The much more battle-hardened Marie's Diamond has often plied his trade with credit at a high level - while Khafoo Shememi ran with promise in a Listed race last time, on his first run since a gelding operation, substantial break and switch to Sir Michael Stoute.

Nonetheless, in this highly-competitive renewal of Pontefract's mid-summer feature, Exhort has persuasive credentials.

In the opening British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes on the same card, debutant Slaidburn represents connections accustomed to winning here.

Tim Easterby's gelding, from the family of Owington, is drawn widest of the eight runners but is bred to be a handy two-year-old at this minimum trip.

Joyful Mission can strike a winning tone in the Happy 70th Birthday Jackie Barber Maiden Stakes.

Stoute's colt has acquired a first-time hood for his third career start, after letting his supporters down at his second attempt when finishing only a disappointing third at Haydock this month.

He previously looked the part when a closing fourth in a Newmarket maiden on debut, though.

Over jumps at Uttoxeter, Asockastar may claim top billing in the Brit Plant Direct Handicap Chase.

The former hunter chaser represents veteran trainer Milton Bradley, and both can roll back the years.

Asockastar must defy by far a career-high mark at the age of 11 - but he is vastly improved on his old handicap efforts, as he proved with an authoritative win at Worcester this month.

He has been hit with a 12lb recognition of his superiority - but at this trip, as long as most of the rain misses Staffordshire, Asockastar will be a major contender.

Similar comments apply to Seven De Baune in the preceding Gordon Banks Memorial Novices' Chase. Ian Williams' lightly-raced chasing debutant has shown enough over hurdles to present a significant threat to likely favourite Pingshou.

Jot'em Down is eye-catching in the closing Pirelli Stadium Handicap Chase. It was no disgrace that David Bridgwater's eight-year-old was unable to contain the in-form and very well-treated The Jam Man at Cartmel last time. He got closest to the easy winner that day, suggesting he ought to be able to strike again at this modest level soon.

PONTEFRACT: 2.20 Slaidburn, 2.50 King And Queen, 3.20 Sod's Law, 3.55 EXHORT (NAP), 4.30 Musharrif, 5.05 Joyful Mission, 5.40 Astrophysics.

UTTOXETER: 2.00 Mrs Davies, 2.30 Whiskey And Water, 3.00 Seven De Baune, 3.35 Asockastar, 4.10 Sirobbie, 4.45 Purple King, 5.20 Jot'em Down.

DOUBLE: Exhort and Joyful Mission.

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