It's a huge day of racing and Andy Holding is on hand with the best punting advice in the business.
THE NAZCA LINES (best price 3-1) showed bright speed throughout when finally getting off the mark at Ripon last time out and he’s been handed with the perfect stall for him to execute the same tactics this afternoon. Not only was that performance at the Yorkshire venue visually impressive, the time he clocked was also pretty smart, and hailing from a stable that are in a rich vein of form at present, John Quinn’s charge is strongly fancied to keep the good run going for the Malton handler.
Having already proven his liking for the rigours of this stiff, straight mile, TAUREAN STAR (best price 9-1) makes quite a bit of appeal in the hands of the head waiter Jamie Spencer. Following a couple promising efforts as a two-year-old, Michael Bell’s charge got off the mark at the third time of asking over today’s course and he repeated the dose of his return visit to the Berkshire venue on his seasonal reappearance back in May. Although the son of Elnadim relinquished his unbeaten record at the track when seventh in the Britannia Handicap a month later, that performance can still be regarded as a sound one considering the ground would have been softer than desired and following another decent effort behind subsequent listed winner Red Box at Lingfield last time out, he looks primed to go well returning to his optimum conditions.
Although PIROUETTE (best price 8-1) won quite snugly in the end at Doncaster last time out, she left the impression she would have won even easier had she received a smoother passage so for that reason, Hughie Morrison’s charge is worth keeping on side despite this being a stiffer examination. The way she travels through her races also suggests she should be able to cope with the sort of pace these big-field handicaps generate and she rates more than a dangerous floater down the foot of the weights.
Although a flop when a well-backed odds-on shot at Beverley last time out, VISCOUNT BARFIELD (best price 5-1) is fancied to put that poor show behind him now returning to the scene of his previously impressive performance. Hitting the ball out of the park on the figures on the Roodee the time before, it was understandable why Andrew Balding’s charge was such a warm order to follow up in what looked a winnable race, but the combination of a poor track position and soft ground prevented the son of Raven’s Pass from running anywhere near his best form and he could only finish fourth in a six-strong field. Hopefully today he gets a decent pace and some cover, as we know what he can do when the race is run to suit.
The form of the 6f handicap won by Dancing Star at the July meeting looks rock-solid and MOUNT KIARA (best price 5-1), who was one of the big eye-catchers in the race, is taken to turn the tables on Priceless who finished three places ahead. Held up way off the early speed, Kevin Ryan’s charge made rapid headway in the hottest part of the race to finish never-nearer at the line, and providing he can be ridden a little closer to the speed this time around, his useful turn of foot can be seen to much better effect.
Having run a screamer in the Royal Hunt from a bad draw and the overall form of the race in subsequent weeks, it’s hard to envisage LIBRISA BREEZE (best price 8-1) not running a huge race on his return visit. Well backed to land that cavalry charge 38 days ago, Dean Ivory’s charge almost pulled off a miraculous victory, but as it turned out, he poor track position away from the main action towards the far side ultimately cost him the race. Although the son of Mount Nelson is dropping back to seven furlongs for the first time, he’s exhibited plenty of tactical speed in his races to suggest he shouldn’t be too inconvenienced and well draw right down the centre of the track, he appears to be in the prime place to launch his attack in the final two furlongs.
Runner-up in this race in 2014, DON’T BOTHER ME best price 20-1) arrives here in the kind of shape to suggest another big effort can be expected from Niall Moran’s inmate. A winner of a competitive Leopardstown handicap two starts back in a fast time, he ran as well as could be expected in a hot Group 3 contest back at the same track last time out and now returning to his optimum conditions with Seamie Heffernan back on board, the son of Dark Angel makes plenty of appeal at 20-1.
KIMBERELLA (best price 13-2) has enjoyed a really productive season with loads of smart performances in big sprint handicaps and if everything falls into place, there’s a fair chance he can add to that sole victory he achieved earlier on in the campaign at Chester. Since that day back in May, Dandy Nicholls’ inmate has finished placed in sixth subsequent starts, his most high profile defeat coming when he was an agonising second in the Epsom Dash on Derby Day. In occupying the same position in his last two outings, the son of Kyllachy is giving out all the signals to suggest he is holding his form extremely well despite the busy programme and given that the low drawn runners on the straight track at today’s venue may turn out to hold a slight advantage, his stall position in box six provides him with the perfect starting point to mount a strong challenge in the latter stages.
In what looks to be a fairly modest affair, IMPERIAL STATE (NAP) (best price 7-4) has the potential to stand out from the crowd and this appears to be a golden opportunity for this lightly-raced three-year-old to step up to the plate. Nicely handled by his rookie trainer, the son of Holy Roman Emperor has run with a good deal more promise than his finishing position has suggested in several high-profile maidens, none more so than his latest effort when sixth in a red-hot contest behind Wilamina at Newmarket. The form of that race at HQ couldn’t have worked out any better with the second, third and fifth all going on to score on their next outings, so in finishing on the coat tails on some promising types, George Scott’s charge appears to have been given a good chance by the handicapper branching out into his new discipline off a mark of just 70. To put the icing on the cake, crack amateur Simon Walker has be asked to do the steering and with second favourite, Wordismybond, beaten off his old mark at Chepstow last night, the door looks wide open for him to strike.
EQUIMOU (best price 7-2) showed blinding all-round speed to score impressively at Chelmsford last time out and is taken to follow up that success on nursery debut. An 8-1 poke at the Essex track, Robert Eddery’s charge posted a speed figure to suggest there was no fluke about the performance and providing the daughter of Equiano can translate that sort of level of form back to the turf, another big run looks on the cards.