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Pontefract best bet: On The River can hit the ground running again on season debut

As the Flat season starts to gain traction, Pontefract’s first meeting of the year provides some interesting races, including this competitive handicap to round off the afternoon’s entertainment.

16:45 Pontefract: Always Trying Syndicate Handicap (1 mile)

Several of the dozen starters will fancy their chances of landing this, with Winercrack emerging as the clear favourite, although Do I Dream also seems to have plenty in his favour.

Ben Haslam’s mare won this renewal 12 months ago off a three-pound higher mark, and her bottom weight here is enhanced further by the three-pound allowance of useful claimer Andrew Breslin.

Elsewhere, Harswell Duke should be better for a couple of recent outings, and could perhaps be forgiven for a disappointing defence of his 2023 Spring Mile crown when last seen in difficult conditions at Doncaster 10 days ago.

Planet Sport Bet Daily Special: Bet £20+ cash on any runner in the race and if Star Shield finishes in the first 3 places, get a £5 Free Bet

Pol Roger and Star Shield also carry realistic each-way hopes, especially with four places readily available, but our final nod goes to the top-weighted five-year-old On The River.

A winner in each of his first two seasons, he took a huge step forward after moving from Ben Haslam to Harriet Bethall’s yard at the end of 2022, kicking off his 2023 campaign with an impressive hat-trick that started with a course-distance win here last April.

The third of those successes came in heavy ground at Nottingham, so he should not be fazed by the testing conditions that are likely here, and having proved that he runs well when fresh, it would be no surprise to see him hit the ground running again here.

Cam Hardie was on board for all ten outings last season, and the dependable jockey returns to the saddle here with a decent chance of making a welcome and long-overdue return to the winners’ enclosure. 

Suggested best bet: On The River each way in the 16:45 at Pontefract


READ MORE: Pontefract racing tips: Best bets for Tuesday April 2

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