Andy has five selections on a busy Friday, including a NAP at Killarney this evening.
MOONMEISTER (best price 13-2) shaped with an immense amount of promise at Galway last time out and he looks set to go well in this competitive affair under his optimum conditions. Re-joining Tony Martin following a short spell with another yard, the son of Mastercraftsman was noted staying on very strongly in the closing stages of a quality premier handicap at Ballybrit 21 days ago and given that he didn’t get the best of runs rounding the home turn, his performance is worth upgrading. The form for that race got a huge boost when Le Vagabond landed a decent contest at Killarney last night and with the five-year-old at his best when held up off strong pace, he should get the perfect toe into the race with the likes of Stars Over The Sea and Odeon in the line-up.
Living five miles away from Bangor racecourse, connections of MR MOONDANCE (best price 7-2) will be delighted with the news that the I can see rain bouncing off the roofs outside my office window and that should ensure that their charge has ideal conditions for him to run his usual solid race. Placed on each of his last four starts – all on soft ground – Mark McNiff’s inmate once again stayed on late in the piece of a competitive affair at Sligo last time out and with his usual strong finish likely to be seen to good effect again today, the Windsor Knot gelding looks booked for place at the very least.
JALLOTA (best price 25-1) bids to atone for a slightly below-par effort in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury last weekend and now returning to his happy hunting ground, there’s every chance the son of Rock Of Gibraltar will justify the quick turnaround. Racing wide with no cover in the early stages at the Berkshire venue, Charlie Hills’ inmate was always going to struggle to get home off the back of strong fractions set by Home Of the Brave and that turned out to be the case as he faded late on to finish fifth. Hopefully today the five-year-old can be dropped in to give him a better chance of being more competitive in the closing stages and with his track stats on the Knavesmire reading 3114, he has to be worth a small each-way interest in what looks to be a wide-open affair.
VISCOUNT BARFIELD (best price 7-1) has already proved that he thrives on a strongly run race over this sort of trip with two impressive wins at Chester this season (7f122y), so this big-field handicap environment should turn out to be ideal for Andrew Balding’s in-form three-year-old. In-between those two victories on the Roodee, the son of Raven’s Pass was slightly disappointing when sent off a red-hot favourite at Beverley, but the combination of a poor track position and testing ground counted against him in the closing stages. Back on a genuine surface, everything looks set fair for a big run from this improving type and being drawn in the middle of the pack should give his jockey plenty of options when the field split and come down the centre in the home straight.
BENTELIMAR (NAP) (best price 8-1) has finally been cut some slack from the handicapper and looks poised to take advantage of a significant drop in class. Good enough to push the very smart Sempre Medici all the way in a Grade 2 affair at Gowran last season, Shay Barry’s charge has been plying his trade in the very best company ever since and even though he was never really seen with a winning chance in the Galway Hurdle last time out, he still took some notable scalps in finishing a creditable ninth of the 20-strong field. Other praiseworthy efforts last term included finishing sixth in the big 2m handicap hurdle run at Leopardstown in mid-winter and fourth to Anibale Fly in an ultra-competitive contest at the Punchestown Festival, and now returning to a track where he’s already enjoyed a certain degree of success, the Beneficial gelding can go well in the hands of promising lady pilot Katie O’Farrell, who takes a valuable 7lb off his top-weighted shoulders.