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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Another marathon: Wemyss Point out to double up in Pontefract series

Becky The Thatcher and PJ McDonald winning at Carlisle last month
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Ding ding, seconds out for the next round of the Pontefract stayers' championship bout between Wemyss Point and Becky The Thatcher, who had a bit of argy bargy virtually on the line when there was a head between them in April.

That was in round two of the course’s annual stayers' championship and, while they slugged it out over 2m5½f in the Pontefract Marathon that day, it is a mere 2m1f in the Tony Bethell Memorial Handicap (7.10).

What could turn out to be more important is a bigger difference in the weights in favour of Wemyss Point, whose trainer Philip Kirby has one reservation.

“If he hadn’t run over hurdles at Aintree since I'd have fancied him again," he said on Sunday. "I hope that was a just a blip – he didn't scope great after but is fine now.

“He doesn’t do anything flashy at home so you can’t be sure, but I think the shorter trip should be fine for him, and he's made for the series.”

Becky The Thatcher finished with a rare rattle to nearly land a knockout blow in that showdown and romped home by five lengths next time at another tough track, Carlisle, which explains why the five-year-old is 7lb worse off with her rival.

Her trainer Micky Hammond knows what it takes to win the stayers' championship as his Tuscan Gold has won the last two titles.

Wind Place And Sho defends an unbeaten record at the track from two visits, while Mick Appleby, trainer of top-weighted Azam, will be looking to end his losing run at the track involving 30 runners dating back to 2016.

Roundhay Park looking to follow Wolfie's lead

While four of the race titles have a rugby league theme, the Mr Wolf Sprint Handicap (7.40) celebrates a course specialist affectionately called ‘Wolfie’ after winning eight races in 36 visits, and the 17-year-old is expected to be back to see his fans having retired in 2012.

Nigel Tinkler hopes he has this year’s winner in Roundhay Park, who has earned top weight in the 6f handicap.

Tinkler, who takes 3lb off the three-year-old with Lewis Edmunds' claim, said: “It's his second run over six furlongs, he's very well and faster ground is no problem for him."

Midgley looking for more from Araqeel 

Paul Midgley: runs Araqeel and War Whisper at Pontefract on Monday

Mr Wolf's trainer Paul Midgley does not have “one good enough" to run in his race, but has two runners later on the card in Araqeel in the Castleford Tigers Handicap (8.40) and War Whisper in the Featherstone Rovers Handicap (9.10).

Midgley said: "Araqeel is a good work horse at home and has been getting better every time he's run for us. He has lost his confidence as much as anything.

"This is the first time he's had a decent draw and definitely on his home work he's better than his mark – but he needs to translate that to the track."

War Whisper has a more obvious chance after his good run at Musselburgh nine days ago, and Midgley added: "His draw is a negative but he must have a big chance on his Musselburgh run." 

O'Brien out for 26th winner

Only his father Aidan has trained more winners in Ireland this season and Joseph O'Brien, who is on the 25-winner mark for the campaign, is represented by Wisdom Mind in Monday’s main event at Roscommon, the 7f Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies’ Handicap (6.30).

The daughter of Dark Angel is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Barney Roy and joined O'Brien from France for this season. She has finished in the frame on her three starts, winning a mile maiden at the Curragh last month, before finishing fourth in a handicap over the same course and trip 16 days ago.

Wisdom Mind: the daughter of Dark Angel has joined Joseph O'Brien this season

O'Brien said: "Wisdom Mind ran well last time and has been in good form at home since. The track and trip should suit and we're looking forward to a good run."

O'Brien's brother Donnacha, who rides the filly, heads to Roscommon leading the jockeys’ table by one from defending champion Colin Keane, 28 winners to 27.

Wisdom Mind's eight rivals include the Willie McCreery-trained Thiswaycadeaux, a winner at Sligo on her most recent start last month.

Monday's cards and betting

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If he hadn’t run over hurdles at Aintree since I would have fancied him again. I hope that was a just a blip
E.W. Terms
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