Overheard in racing: Andy Ayres has the latest paddock gossip and picks out his Monday racing NAP

Overheard in racing: Andy Ayres has the latest paddock gossip and picks out his Monday racing NAP

April 22, 2019

MARK JOHNSTON has always been a man for the big occasion.

There was massive money up for grabs on a sweltering sell-out day at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, so it was a certainty that the Middleham magician and his horses would be zinging.

He proceeded to chin his rivals with an old fashioned one-two, landing a big race double through Watersmeet and Matterhorn.

Both horses have done more laps of the track than Mick The Miller, but managed to produce huge personal bests on the afternoon that mattered.

A day later and Magic Mark was at it again, bagging a £100,000 pot with Austrian School up at Musselburgh.

Reading this yard is about as easy as deciphering the Enigma code, but you’d bet good money that Johners will send out 200-plus winners again in 2019.

The heavy hitters brought their wheelbarrows along to get stuck into Kachy (4-5 to 4-9) in the Sprint Final at Lingfield and he had the race cooked after pinching a two length lead from the gates.

This ball of muscle is slicker off the grid than Lewis Hamilton and it’ll take something a bit sharp to whip him in the Temple Stakes at Haydock next month.

It sounds like Michael Bell is itching to run Pretty Pollyana in the 1,000 Guineas, but the word is she’s been firing blanks on the gallops.

I’m told a top jock was disappointed after giving ding-dong’s stable star a spin the other day, so she might be best watched for the time being.

Old-timer Gerald Mosse has won over a few doubters this spring and used all his nous to land a tickle on the tricky Agrotera (6-1 to 7-2) in a Listed race at Kempton Park on Saturday.

Ed Walker’s filly has more natural ability than Messi, but is a bit quaint and was ponied to the start by her best pal, ex-racehorse Dannios.

Royal Ascot’s Duchess of Cambridge Stakes will be the next stop for Agrotera – provided the stewards agree to let her mate play minder again!

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William Haggas has been hitting the woodwork more often than Thomas Chippendale, but he’s got a squad deep enough to give Pep Guardiola the hump and has been making bullish noises about wonder filly Sea Of Class.

Wily William is going to take on the colts with his superstar this year and is intent on nicking Royal Ascot’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes before having a second crack at the Arc.

Meanwhile, Andrew Balding will be expecting a massive run from King Power if she lines up for a fillies’ novice event at Sandown on Friday.

She’s been getting her trainer’s ticker racing this spring and could be lining-up in an Oaks trial if all goes to plan here.

Trackman's Monday Selection

COUNTRY (1.55 Redcar) shaped well in a hot race at Doncaster and should be good enough to get off the mark here.

BROTHER BENNETT (4.10) has been found a soft opening at Plumpton today, where Alan King’s PRAECEPS (1.50) deserves a change of luck after getting stuck in traffic at Ascot last time.

COUNTRY (1.55) looks the best bet at Redcar. William Haggas’ colt attracted an avalanche of support when clueless on his debut at Doncaster and should be a different proposition with that under his belt.

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