Completing a hat-trick, especially in sprint handicap company, is no easy task, but Highly Sprung appears to have an excellent chance of doing so, as he attempts to defy a 6lb penalty in the King Richard III Handicap (3.30) at Pontefract on Tuesday. Les Eyre’s six-year-old steps back up in class after two course and distance wins, in 0-70 and 0-75 company, but the manner of his most recent victory suggested he is thriving in his new surroundings. The Zebedee gelding was transferred from Mark Johnston in May and, after two fairly nondescript runs over 7 furlongs, has rediscovered his form back over his optimum distance.
He has recorded all seven career wins over 6 furlongs on good to firm going – including three over course and distance in total – so should be in his element once again and remains 3lb lower in the weights than when winning a 0-85 contest, by 5 lengths, at Yarmouth two seasons ago. He’s never won in this grade but, while his most recent form has yet to be tested, he was visually quite impressive and it’s not great surprise that connections are keen to turn him out under a penalty. He’s 4-13 under Silvestre De Sousa, who won on him last time and has a 6-19 (32%) strike rate overall for Les Eyre during the last five seasons, so the statistics provide additional cause for optimism.
Selection: Pontefract 3.30 Highly Sprung to win 9/4