JACKPOT WAS A ‘BREATH’ AWAY: Daqman had his nose pushed out of joint when hopes of a third successive winning day ended in a blanket finish for the Sprint Cup, his jackpot bet, Bated Breath (2nd 5-1), being beaten by a nose. His winners included King Torus (WON 3-1).

I was up early for a piece of the Donald McCain action today. I’ve seen some high ‘hot trainer’ figures in my time but rarely the like of 94% in the frame for an entire fortnight’s work.

No wonder he travels down south to Fontwell today, where his record is four out of six, so a rare visitor usually with something to show for it.

In the fortnight, Donald McCain has had 16 out of 17 in the first four, 9 of them winners, 14 of them placed, which is why I was hovering over my monitor early doors for Cuban Piece (2.10). What I found at 5.1 didn’t last long!

Cuban Piece is also an early bird for Tony McCoy: he has three rides between 4.15 and 5.50, but gets to the course early to partner the three-year-old.

It could be the proverbial case of ‘great minds think alike’, as the trainers of Happy Fleet (3.45) and Beattie Green (5.50) run both horses for the first time from their yard by returning them to the track they last won on.

Happy Fleet took the mares’ handicap hurdle last year, and Beattie Green was an easy CD winner in January of a good bumper previously bagged by Cue Card.

’Rubbish!’ must be the verdict on the bottom half of the nursery handicap (1.50) at York: four of the last six winners of this race were officially rated 81 to 84.

But the very top weight today, Satanic Beat, has an OR of only 80, suggesting that today’s field is sub-standard and that the bottom four, which have ‘earned’ ratings from just 59 to 67 are knackers’-yard material.

Unless the blinkers work a miracle, Satanic Beat will again beat On The Hoof, behind him at 40-1 on today’s course before Satanic Beat was badly hampered when they clashed there again 18 days back.

Satanic Beat looks favoured by an extra furlong today; sprint-bred On The Hoof doesn’t. Fayr Fall is also from a family of sprinters. Ladykin is from a hurdles-related line, and I’m surprised that dirt-bred Citizen’s Charter hasn’t been seen out on an AW surface

Lady Layla won over 7f at Ayr but the pace was slower than the first girl I took to the pictures when I was teenager. How times have changed, now that I get a cheaper ticket.

Richard Fahey goes for a hat-trick in the two-year-old maiden (2.25) with two runners: Personal Touch (4.5 on Betdaq), the one with experience, but Lisiere (5.1) the mount of Paul Hanagan.

Thanks to the magic name of Jeremy Noseda, whose Rio Grande is made favourite, you can dutch the Fahey duo. Noseda trains them to win at home, so the two ‘duck eggs’ beside Rio Grande, and the traveling North, suggest desperation.

If it were a case of a third maiden defeat to get a low handicap slot, no trainer would choose such a low level with only seven runners; nowhere to hide.

Older horses don’t win the sprint handicap (3.30): only ages three (four wins), four (three wins) and five (last year only) have scored.

Low numbers have the pace from Verinco (vulnerable with a penalty) and Parisian Pyramid, who put in a good run at Ripon last time but can’t beat Midnight Martini (stall 1) on a line through Pepper Lane.

Whozthecat (stall 6) got close to Saturday’s big winner, Zero Money, but there’s rain about and he needs to hear his feet rattle.

Swilly Ferry (stall 4) was hampered behind Pizza San Pietro at Haydock and is now 11lb better off. A good each-way bet at 15.0 this morning, he faces lively threats from the Tim Easterby pair, Cocktail Charlie (11.5) and Midnight Martini (21.0).

BET 6pts win (nap) SATANIC BEAT (1.50 York)
BET (to win 20pts) 4.8pts win CUBAN PIECE (2.10 Fontwell)
LAY to win 10pts RIO GRANDE, and BET (to win 20pts) 5.7pts win PERSONAL TOUCH and 4.8pts win LISIERE (4.25 York)
BET 1.4pts win and place SWILLY FERRY, plus 1.9pts win COCKTAIL CHARLIE and 1pt win MIDNIGHT MARTINI (3.30 York)
DAQ MULTIPLES: 3 x 1pt win doubles Satanic Beat (1.50 York) with Happy Fleet (3.45 Fontwell) and Beattie Green (5.50 Fontwell)