USPGA Championship First Round Three-Balls

pga-championship-2016The fourth and final major of the season, the USPGA Championship, gets underway at Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey on Thursday and, as is customary, the winners of the first three majors, Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson, play together for the first two days. Following a sensational performance at Troon, Henrik Stenson (13/8) looks worthy of support in that particular three-ball.

Elsewhere, Sergio Garcia may never shed the tag of ‘best player never to win a major’, but is another who arrives in fantastic form after finishing tied fifth at Troon. The Spaniard should be suited by the course and, at 15/8, may be able to get the better of Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth in the opening exchanges.

Last, but hopefully not least, Baltusrol favours accurate driving, so Jason Dufner (7/5), who won this tournament three years ago and finished in the top 25 at Troon, may be able to steal a march on Martin Kaymer and Y.E. Yang.

Selections: Henrik Stenson (13/8), Sergio Garcia (15/8), Jason Dufner (7/5), 1-point Win Treble

‘Pie-in-the-sky’ Patent, Tuesday, July 19

patent betLaila Honiwillow failed by just a length to withstand the challenge of Mr. Orange and land our treble at Pontefract last Friday but, even so, a 36-point profit, courtesy of Monsieur Joe (7/2) and Final Venture (6/1), did us no harm. Suitably inspired, we’ve decided to put up three more selections in the hope of repeating the dose.

In the 3.15 at Musselburgh on Tuesday, Bashiba has been raised just 2lb for winning a 0-95 contest at Windsor earlier this month and, dropped back into 0-80 company, must have every chance of following up. The Iffraaj gelding has done all his winning on good, or faster, going over the minimum trip and, although on a career-high handicap mark, has plenty going for him.

In the 4.45 at Musselburgh, Always Resolute could probably do with a drop of rain, but should run his race in any case and can defy a 5lb rise in the weights form winning at Chester last month. That was just his second attempt at 2 miles on the Flat so, with the flat, slightly undulating track once again in his favour, he may be capable of further improvement.

In the 7.50 at Chelmsford, Clovelly Bay recorded his sole win over course and distance last November under Hayley Turner and, reunited with the lady jockey, must have a decent chance of winning again off a handicap mark just 3lb higher. His recent form on turf is nothing to write home about, but back on Polytrack, he can win a fairly uninspiring contest.

Selections: Musselburgh 3.15 Bashiba, Musselburgh 4.45 Always Resolute, Chelmsford 7.50 Clovelly Bay, 1-point Win Patent

‘Practical’ Patent, Friday, July 15

PontefractThree cracks of the whip served us pretty well the last time we tried one of these, so here goes again.

In the 7.20 at Newmarket on Friday, Monsieur Joe has continued in excellent form since winning a similar race at Hamilton three starts ago and can return to the winners’ enclosure. His second of 12, beaten a head, behind Brando in the Coral Charge at Sandown on his penultimate start was a particularly valiant effort and a reproduction on that form should be good enough.

In the 7.30 at Pontefract, Final Venture has been raised 2lb for his 1-length defeat in the King Richard III over 6 furlongs on the West Yorkshire course 10 days ago, but was clear with two furlongs to run and only succumbed close home, so dropping back to the minimum trip appears in his favour. So, too, does the return to good to firm going and he can regain the winning thread.

In the 9.05 at Pontefract, Laila Honiwillow has improved steadily this season and can complete a hat-trick. The form of her most recent win, at Doncaster three weeks ago, has been franked by the runner-up, Portland Street, and she’s fully effective on the prevailing good to firm going, so she must have a decent chance of defying a 6lb penalty.

Selections: Newmarket 7.20 Monsieur Joe, Pontefract 7.30 Final Venture, Pontefract 9.05 Laila Honiwillow (1-point Win Patent)

‘Deadly’ Double, Tuesday, July 5

pontefractIn the 3.10 at Pontefract on Tuesday, Black Cherry has failed to add to her winning tally since stretching away to win a 0-85 handicap at Sandown last summer, but has proved a reliable performer at Listed and Pattern level and deserves a change of luck. Her latest seventh of 14, beaten 4¾ lengths, behind Usherette in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot was another solid effort and the return to faster underfoot conditions should do her chances no harm.

In the 4.10 at Pontefract, Trainnah has run two promising races, over an extended mile on her debut at Nottingham in May and one over 1 mile 2 furlongs at Salisbury last month, and can put that experience to good use. She’s bred to be suited by middle distances and trainer William Haggas has 33% strike rate with her age group at the course over the last five seasons, so it’ll be disappointing if she can’t get off the mark at the third time of asking.

Selections: Pontefract 3.10 Black Cherry, Pontefract 4.10 Trainnah, 1-point Win Double