Andy Holding has five bets today, including a two-point nap at Newcastle this evening.
Third in the race last year, THEATRE GUIDE (best price 4-1) looks to have a perfectly plausible chance of bettering that position given that today’s opposition – albeit useful – doesn’t appear as tough as it did twelve months ago. Following that promising opening to the campaign, Colin Tizzard’s charge went on to run an absolute stormer when runner-up to Smad Place in the Hennessy at Newbury and it was nice to see him getting his just rewards for those efforts by going on to land the Betbright Chase at Kempton in February. Not quite staying the trip in the Bet365 Gold Cup on his final outing last season, this contest looks a decent starting point for the son of King’s Theatre to kick-start his campaign and although he’s more effective over distances beyond today’s 2m 4f journey, a wind-op over the summer plus the fact he goes well fresh more than compensate for that slight negative.
In what should turn out to be a ripper of a beginners’ chase, LE PREZIEN (best price 3-1)is taken to get the better of several high-profile names on chasing debut. Working his way up through the hurdling ranks from fairly humble beginnings last season, Paul Nicholls’ inmate found himself taking on Grade 1 company on his final outing of the campaign and although he narrowly failed to overturn the very classy Yorkhill that afternoon, the fact that he put the wind up favourite backers just shows what a quality performer he’s become in a short space of time. Acquired by J.P McManus during the summer, hopefully the son of Blue Bresil will reward the legendary owner throughout the remainder of his career and although he could do with slightly softer ground in an ideal world, the same can be said for most of his main market rivals this afternoon.
Although her career path suggests she may be slightly better on an artificial surface, WINGS OF ESTEEM (best price 11-1) has showed on a few occasions that she’s not totally dead in the water of turf and she’s worth a small interest to exploit her current mark on grass. 7lb lower currently compared to her all-weather rating, Martin Smith’s charge has earned that rise courtesy of several decent performances of late on the synthetics and this sweet-moving and improving four-year-old filly – who was withdrawn at the Horse In Training Sale earlier in the week – can hopefully repay the renewed faith of her owners who obviously wanted to keep her in order to roll the dice with her over winter.
RURAL CELEBRATION (NAP) (best price 5-2) was visually impressive and on the clock when scoring over tonight’s C&D five days ago and receives the strong vote to follow up that success despite a mandatory penalty. Always moving well in behind strong fractions set by Showdaisy, David O’Meara’s mare quickened nicely once asked to go about her work inside the final furlong and providing she receives a similar set up again this evening, the result could well turn out to be the same.
WINDSORLOT (best price 5-1) did extremely well to overcome a terrible wide trip when runner-up to Veil Of Stars here on his last start and from a much better draw this evening, he’s fancied to turn the tables on his old rival – who, conversely has gone from the luxury of stall 1 to being posted out on the wing in box 14. Clearly not the most straightforward of conveyances – hence the first time pieces – Henry De Bromhead’s charge somehow worked himself into a challenging position rounding the home turn and although he actually took up the running going down to the distance, the early exertions compared to the smoother passage of the winner took its toll late on. Hopefully, Pat Smullen can galvanise his charge out of the boxes rather than get trapped on the curb, and if so, there’s a decent chance the son of Windsor Knot can provide his handler with a second winner here at the track in a week.