Pontefract Preview: Relief ready to Rock in marathon test
The longest flat handicap of the year, the Pontefract Marathon, is the feature contest on a six-race card and Rock Relief looks as the ideal type for the extended 2m 5f contest.
Trained by Chris Grant, the gelding is a decent hurdler who scored his first success on the flat when running on strongly to land a 2m contest at Newcastle last May.
He gets into this contest off just 5lb higher and has run well two be placed on two of his last three starts over hurdles.
Eight-year-old Rock Relief is a lazy sort who often gets outpaced before staying on strongly at the end of his races, and his running style suggests that this severe test will be right up his street.
The grey is sure to be staying on strongly at the business end of affairs when others have cried enough and, with Paul Mulrennan in the saddle, can make the most of the 6lb he receives from the favourite New Youmzain to land the spoils.
In the 6f sprint handicap at 3.10, Can You Conga is a fascinating contender on her second start since joining trainer Mick Easterby.
The filly had a progressive profile last year when trained by Kevin Ryan, scoring at the third time of asking at Doncaster before going on to land a 13-runner class 2 handicap at Newmarket on her final start of 2013.
The daughter of Piccolo showed plenty of early pace in the latter, before running on strongly to score with more in hand than the neck winning margin suggest off a mark of 84.
She then joined the shrewd Easterby outfit, and caught the eye in no uncertain fashion on her first run for 225 days at Doncaster when finishing 11th of 18 to Flyman at Doncaster.
After being slowy into stride, Can Young Conga made some headway two from home and kept on steadily under very tender handling to be beaten just over nine length.
It was an effort which suggested she was being primed to land a prize like this, and her current mark of 88 should certainly not be beyond her judged on how she progressed last season.
With a good draw to explot in stall four it would be no surprise to see her outrun her odds off a mark just 4lb higher than when last successful.
Another who could run well at big odds is Mey Blossom in the 5f handicap which closes the card at 4.40.
The nine-year-old has been a grand servant to trainer Richard Whittaker, winning nine of her 70 career starts and being placed on 11 other occasions.
The mare showed that she retained plenty of ability when landing a 5f contest at Beverley last May off a rating of 57, and went on to finish runner-up three times off marks of 62 and 63.
She now gets into this off 57, the same as when last successful, having shaped as if coming back to form last time out on the polytrack surface at Kempton over 6f where she faded late on after showing plenty of early pace.
The drop back to 5f and return to the turf is sure to suit, and from a good draw in stall five she looks a lively outsider and decent each-way value.
2.40: Dolphin Rock
3.10: Can You Conga (NB)
3.40: Rock Relief (NAP)
4.10: Al Senad
4.40: Mey Blossom