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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Protected back at the seaside as he bids to get festival off to a flyer

George Mararson: hoping to strike again with Protected Guest
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Yarmouth specialist Protected Guest would be a fitting winner on the opening day of the Eastern festival – the highlight of the track's year.

The three-year-old won on both his visits to the course this season and bids to make it three from three in the £24,100 Dan Hague, Yarmouth's Number 1 Bookmaker Handicap (2.50) over an extended mile and three furlongs.

"He likes a flat galloping track," said trainer George Margarson. "He's still a baby and handles Yarmouth better than places like Newmarket. He's a big horse at 16.1hh and he likes to get in his stride.

"People have called him a bit of a dog because he carries his head high, but it doesn't stop him and he never looks like he's shirking the issue.

"He's stepping up in trip and on pedigree he shouldn't have an issue with it. He's been galloping out at the end and I hope it will improve him a bit."

A six-runner line-up is the biggest since this 81-100 three-year-old event was first staged in 2012, and Margarson said: "I don't know why these races don't fill up a bit more as it's always good ground and you'd think there would be a lot of runners.

"Protected Guest is in really good nick, we've saved him for the race and had it in mind since his last win there. We've kept him fresh for it and hopefully he'll repay us."

The three-day Eastern festival is Yarmouth's biggest meeting of the year

Take a bow Pepys

How do you get to the bottom of a horse like Pepys? The handicapper has not managed it so far and he could well find he has slipped through his hands once again on Tuesday afternoon.

The progressive four-year-old keeps doing just enough, winning five times from his eight starts in 2018 but never scoring by more than a length.

So don't discount his chances of completing a four-timer in the Straight Mile Series qualifier at Redcar (4.10), even though he only had a nose to spare when scoring at Beverley last time and has risen 22lb in the handicap since his winning run began at Newcastle in April.

"He's in good order and I'm very happy with him," said trainer Bryan Smart. "He's a smashing little horse and he's been amazing for us this season, for owner and trainer. We've not worked any miracles, just let him grow into himself and looked after him."

Smart believes Pepys is better than the bare form of his last narrow success and will be suited by this straight mile.

"Last time at Beverley something played up by the side of him and he really fluffed the start and got into a position he didn't want to be in," he said.

"Graham Lee had to take his time and he stayed on all the way, so I think this flat mile will suit him."

Pepys (right) scores by the minimum margin at Beverley

Back home

After a mixed weekend of top-level racing in Canada, Jamie Spencer gets back to basics with two rides at Lingfield.

The former champion had a big payday when driving Godolphin's La Pelosa to victory in the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday. 

But he was angry and frustrated 24 hours earlier as he beat only two home in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes on Hawkbill, who he claimed had his race 'ruined' by a harrying rival. 

Things should be less heated at Lingfield, where he bids for the 7f novice event (2.00) on Annecy, a filly he partnered to victory over course and distance last month.

And Spencer will then attempt to land the 1m4f handicap (4.30) on Oasis Fantasy, who has finished second or third on his last six starts but has not won since May 2016.

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We've saved him for the race and had it in mind since his last win there. We've kept him fresh for it and hopefully he'll repay us
E.W. Terms
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