Opportunity Noc’s at Windsor
The racing tip of the day runs in the last at Windsor as Ben Linfoot ends a punting abstinence that lasted about 16 hours.
Tom Marquand: The latest to have a go at getting Nocturn to put his best foot forward
After punting my way through Ascot, Haydock and York at the weekend I was going to keep the powder dry until at least the first day of the Leger meeting. It's only three days away, after all.
But the hands of fate, or the Sportinglife shifts, have seen me nestled in the tip of the day chair on Monday morning with Brighton, Perth, Windsor and Galway to have a go at.
I normally like a bet at Brighton but have struggled to find one today, and with jumps racing off the radar for at least another month Perth is happily scratched off the list too.
Galway isn't my specialist subject, so that leaves Windsor and the one horse that has drawn me out of the shortest of punting abstinences is Nocturn, a regressive seven-year-old gelding who hasn't looked like troubling the judge this season.
Bear with me, the case for him gets better than that.
He runs in the Booker Wholesale Handicap at 5.20, a five-furlong race in which the hot favourite is Charlie Hills' May Rose. She's unbeaten over five furlongs and is going for a hat-trick following recent wins at this track and at Wolverhampton.
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She's the most likely winner of the race and is a worthy favourite, but she is 10lb higher now than she was for her Windsor win and I didn't think she looked to have loads in hand when she won at Wolverhampton last time.
I'm happy to have an each-way go against her in any case and at 20/1 Nocturn appeals, despite my earlier synopsis.
He obviously comes with a wealth warning having dropped 12lb in the weights following five runs this season, but there was a glimmer of hope when he was beaten in seventh at this track in July, as that was off a 9lb higher mark and he was only two-and-a-half lengths adrift of the winner.
It's of no surprise his best run this season came at Windsor, as he always reserves his best runs for Windsor. He's won here four times previously; his maiden and three times in handicaps off marks off 82, 85 and 79.
Today's mark of 73 is the lowest of his career and the lowest, by 6lb, that he has run off at Windsor. And that Windsor win off 79 was only last July, when he won over the course and distance by a short head.
The problem is he's a bit of a thinker, he can race keenly and he sometimes hangs under pressure, but Ron Harris has tried a couple of new things today in order to iron out his quirks.
Firstly, a first-time hood is employed. This could help with the keenness and the last time he wore first-time headgear, cheekpieces, which are also still on today, he won, and that was at Windsor too.
Secondly, Tom Marquand rides him for the first time. Nocturn might well be one of those horses who needs to be freshened up and three of his victories have come under jockeys riding him for the first time.
Granted, such a trick hasn't worked on his last three runs, but the booking of Marquand, combined with the first-time hood, the career low mark and the return to his favourite track is a melting pot that might just spark him back to life.
At 20/1, he's worth a small each-way bet.
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