Andy thinks Andrew Balding's good run of form can continue at Beverley this evening.
2.40 Newton Abbot
PERUVIEN BLEU (best price 9-1) gave the impression he may have won with a better ride over today’s C&D last time out and he’s worth another chance to vindicate that viewpoint on his return visit to the West Country venue. Noted travelling well towards the rear of the field, his inexperienced pilot got his mount momentarily stuck in behind rivals dropping back in his lap rounding the home turn and, given that he finished his race off quite strongly from that point onwards, the crucial few lengths he forfeited made all the difference in the final calculations. Although today’s contest looks a competitive affair and the ground maybe a shade quicker, he has enough ability to hold his own.
SPARK PLUG (best price 5-1) has clearly taken a while to recover from a crashing fall he sustained while competing in the Royal Hunt Cup two years ago, but there has been enough evidence of late – including in that very same race this season – that the son of Dylan Thomas is getting back some of his old swagger. Although only 12th of 28 in that big mile handicap run at the Royal meeting, Brian Meehan’s inmate ran a good deal better than his official finishing position suggests and if he would have received a smoother passage inside the last two furlongs, he may have been a factor in the final outcome. Given that he easily beat GM Hopkins that day despite being severely hampered on more than one occasion, it makes little sense why he should be nearly three times the price of John Gosden’s charge on only marginally worse terms.
Andrew Balding’s horses are going through a proper purple patch at present and that good form looks set to continue courtesy of last week’s resounding Chester scorer VISCOUNT BARFIELD (NAP) (best price 11-10). Quickening up smartly in the closing stages of what turned out to be a very strongly run affair around the Roodee, the son of Raven’s Pass posted a better set of numbers to those achieved by the 98-rated Hillbilly Boy who scored later on the card over the same trip, so using those findings as a guide, he clearly has this race at his mercy racing off the same mark.
OK BY ME (best price 25-1) did more than enough on her debut to suggest should be capable of picking up a race in due course and although there’s more than affair chance it probably might be a little further down the line, her odds of 25-1 are far too great not to have a small interest just in case. Green and outpaced in a strongly run affair over this course, the daughter of Arcano picked up quite nicely in the closing stages to finish a never-nearer sixth and, given that she’s got an extra furlong to race over this evening, there’s every reason to think she can at least outrun her tall odds.