Andy Holding has four selections to get the week off to a flying start.
BARMAN (best price 7-4) is clearly a horse going places based on his recent performances and it would come as little surprise if he were to complete a quick hat trick given his current wellbeing. A smooth C&D winner of a maiden hurdle two starts back, Nicky Henderson’s charge duly followed up last time out under his penalty at Uttoxeter and given that one of his major scalps that day was the well-backed previous easy course winner Nikki Steel, the performance carries a good deal of merit. A strong traveller through his races, the unexposed son of Racinger may have more to come and for that reason he doesn’t look to be too badly treated off 117 on his first foray into handicap company.
If the favourite fails to live up to the star billing, there’s a decent chance MURRAY MOUNT (best price 14-1) might be good enough to take advantage and he simply has to be worth a small each-way interest given that his price looks to be out of line with his chance on form. On only his second outing for new connections, Henry Oliver’s charge was good enough to get within three lengths of the bang-in-form Eddiemaurice over today’s C&D last time out and with the time figure of that race suggesting it was useful form for the grade, a repeat of that sort of effort entitles him to plenty of respect.
ECOEYE (best price 11-4) didn’t get the chance to run up to his best form at Limerick last time out because of the fast conditions, but now returning to the surface which has seen him excel in the past, Augustine Leahy’s inmate rates the smartest choice at the morning prices. Racing between 6/7f on soft or heavy ground, the son of Echo Of Light’s form figures read 2321 and with the forecast rain likely to ensure the ground at tonight’s venue remains on the testing side, he has every opportunity to keep those impressive stats firmly intact. Moreover, the form of his runner-up spot behind Downforce at Sligo two starts ago couldn’t have worked out any better (winner, third and 11th all won since) and tonight’s opposition don’t look anywhere near that sort of calibre based on their recent results.
Impressive two starts ago when making all to win by seven lengths, MIDNITEMUDCRABS (best price 3-1) couldn’t manage to replicate that feat in a much stiffer examination at the Curragh next time, but returning to conditions that will suit her much better this time around, there’s a fair chance she can bounce back to her very best form. Based on the evidence of her performance at Gowran, the daughter of Arcano is at home when allowed to bowl along in front and being as he’s the only guaranteed front runner in tonight’s field, she should get the uncontested lead she desires.