Maid to star

Starcross Maid looks sent from above for Southwell punters, who are strongly advised to get behind the in-form mare in the Book Early And Make 2008 Pontin’s-tastic Handicap on Tuesday.

Starcross Maid looks sent from above for Southwell punters, who are strongly advised to get behind the in-form mare in the Book Early And Make 2008 Pontin’s-tastic Handicap on Tuesday.

Winning course form is usually a great pointer at this specialist all-weather venue and the selection is clearly in love with the place, recording all four of her career wins here.

Starcross Maid went a little off the boil after winning at Southwell in May, but had been showing plenty more zip of late before hitting the bullseye on her most recent outing.

In slamming seven rivals by five lengths and more just over a week ago, the six-year-old looked right on her game again, which spells trouble for some moderate-looking rivals.

Legend Erry is unlikely to offer much in the way of value after bolting up by 16 lengths at the track last week.

However, it will at least prove fascinating to see if Jane Chapple-Hyam’s horse can register another emphatic success in the Book Pontin’s Now On 0844 815 3648 Handicap.

Two that should provide more in the way of punting opportunities are Taikoo and Sweet Pickle.

The former is trained by Hughie Morrison and makes stacks of appeal in the arenaleisureplc.com Maiden Stakes after showing more than a glimmer of promise most recently.

Making just his second start, and his first on the all-weather at this track in December, the Dr Fong colt looked as green as grass before staying on nicely to grab a close-up fourth.

Any further improvement should see him involved in the finish, while similar comments apply to the ever-reliable Sweet Pickle, who runs in the Southwell Racecourse For Conferences Fillies’ Handicap.

Jim Boyle’s charge has been in cracking form lately and is sure to take some stopping against members of her own sex.

Arfinnit stands out as one of the more interesting propositions in the Kempton For Weddings Handicap at the all-weather Sunbury venue after winning over course and distance last month.

When the seven-year-old hits the gates running he is a mighty hard horse to pass, as the in-form Kirsty Milczarek found to her benefit just under a fortnight ago.

The winning combination are back together again and a similar outcome looks firmly on the cards despite the assessor hitting Arfinnit with a 5lb rise.

Autumn Blades has failed to progress as connections would have hoped after he finished a close-up fourth behind the smart Iguazu Falls on his debut in September.

However, the colt should be given one more chance to hit the right notes in what looks a very winnable Mix Business With Pleasure Median Auction Maiden Stakes.

Folkestone stage the only National Hunt action of the day and a selective approach should see punters reap reward.

The best bet on offer could well be Emma Lavelle’s useful Najca De Thaix, who goes for a third success in his last four starts in the Coral 1,550 Shops Nationwide Novices’ Handicap Chase.

This progressive seven-year-old is better treated over the larger obstacles and will appreciate the drop in trip to two miles.

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