It's a bumper day of racing and Andy Holding has some big-price fancies.
The weather forecast permits there’s still likely to be plenty of moisture left in the ground for day one of the Epsom Derby meeting, and with that in mind, FELIX DE VEGA (best price 8/1)
is taken to handle the prevailing conditions better than most. A smooth winner of a competitive affair two starts ago at Ripon on genuine soft ground, Mick Easterby’s charge ran right up to his very best form when just touched off in his bid to follow up next time out at Chester. Although he did get the run of the race to a certain extent, it wouldn’t have been plan A to have cut out the donkey work and if the son of Lope De Vega returns to more conservative tactics this time around, he’s got a decent chance of turning the form around with his conqueror on the Roodee, Dark Red.
FELIX DE VEGA - 1pt e/w @ 8/1Lost -2pt
The fact that Godolphin were prepared to supplement SKIFFLE (best price 6/1)
for a tidy sum at the final declaration stage suggests that connections have been rather caught unawares with the amount of improvement shown by the daughter of Dubawi in recent week,s and she looks the one most likely to give backers of favourite Minding an uneasy experience. Slow away and too green to do herself justice first time out at Ascot, Charlie Appleby’s charge was much more professional with her execution of the job at hand at Goodwood last time out and with stamina looking her key attribute based on that performance, this stiff 1m 4f should play into her strengths more than most.
SKIFFLE - 1pt e/w @ 6/1Lost -2pt
4.45 Market Rasen
Although MOSS ON THE MILL (best price 6/1)
failed to repeat his previous success at Ludlow last time out, the time figure he achieved in finishing runner-up to Gaelic Myth suggests he should have no problem getting back on the winning trail sooner rather than later. The fact that the front pair pulled well clear of previous Cheltenham winner, Altesse De Guye, points towards the form being of a solid nature, and with similar conditions in place, it’s hard to envisage Tom George’s charge not running a massive race if in a similar mood.
MOSS ON THE MILL - 1pt e/w @ 6/1Won 7.2pt
Other than one poor run in the Criterium at Saint Cloud as a two-year-old, SCRUTINEER (best price 9/2)
hasn’t done too much wrong in his career so far to date and another big run looks on the cards from Mick Channon’s charge with suitable conditions very much back in his favour. The son of Intense Focus ran right up to his best form when runner-up to the smart Ibn Malik on his seasonal return at Newmarket and followed than up with another commendable effort behind Thikriyaat at the same venue last time out. Given that the ground may have been a little on the quick side on each occasion, both performances can be upgraded, and with only Haalick rated as the other bringing anything like solid form to the party, the consistent three-year-old makes plenty of each-way appeal with the dead eight set to go to post.
SCRUTINEER - 1pt e/w @ 9/2Lost -2pt
Both DUCHESSOFFLORENCE (best price 11/2)
and KNIGHTS TEMPLAR (best price 20/1)
made encouraging seasonal reappearances in two very strongly-run handicaps at Gowran nine days ago and are worth playing against the field off the back of those taking performances. The former did really well to finish fourth behind Talented Kid considering she was last passing the furlong pole, and with most of Mickie Halford’s horses tending to need a run this season, she should be all the better for that initial outing. The latter also shaped with a good deal more promise than the bare result suggests in an ultra-competitive 7f affair on the same card, and having won over tonight’s C&D last season and hailing from a yard in form, Pat Flynn’s inmate can outrun his odds.
DUCHESOFFLORENCE - 1pt @ 11/2Lost -1pt
KNIGHTS TEMPLAR - 0.5pt e/w @ 20/1Lost -1pt
SECRET SPLENDOUR (best price 11/2)
travelled like a horse well beyond her current rating at the Curragh last time out and although she couldn’t quite see the job out in the dying strides, she did more than enough to suggest she will extremely competitive once her sights have been lowered. Running in her first handicap off a mark of 79, the daughter of Cape Cross gets an immediate chance to put that theory to the test in this concluding contest and it would come as something of a surprise, if this huge, classy-looking mare wasn’t capable of making her presence felt.
If Frank Dunne’s charge fails to live up to expectations, MARONELLA (best price 11/1)
looks like one of the main contenders to take advantage of any potential slip-ups from the number one selection and she has to be worth a small saver at her top morning odds. Hopefully, Duchessofflorence will have boosted her form from Gowran last time out with a decent effort in the 7.05 and given that she also finished very strongly from the back of the field that night, the step up in trip should suit Johnny Murtagh’s inmate perfectly.
SECRET SPLENDOUR - 1pt @ 11/2Lost -1pt
MARONELLA - 0.5pt e/w @ 11/1Lost -1pt