Andy has six bets from around the tracks, including a two-point nap at Wetherby.
Dan Skelton has made a habit of improving horse from other stables and in the shape of YORKIST (best price 3-1), the Alcester handler looks to have another candidate off the conveyer belt. Formerly a useful chaser with Micky Hammond, the son of Urban Ocean hit a peak two seasons ago when running a series of fine races in victory and defeat on the Northern circuit and although he failed to add to his winning tally during last campaign, he still ran to a decent standard. Often at his best on good ground on a sharp track, a strong run race – which seems likely – should provide the perfect platform for him to land the well-hatched plan.
Hailing from a yard in cracking form and with a fitness advantage on his side, BALLYOPTIC (NAP)(best price 15-8) makes plenty of appeal to stamp his authority on this mixed field of chasers and hurdlers. One of the top staying novices last season, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ inmate got this campaign off to the best possible start by talking the ultra-competitive Tote Silver Trophy at Chepstow three weeks ago and considering he was racing over a trip short of his best that day, the performance carries extra merit. 3-3 under today’s pilot, the son of Old Vic is likely to be ridden positively in order to make this a proper test for several who may have other targets further down the line on their mind.
SOVEREIGN DEBT (best price 5-2) really is quite a remarkable old horse, and he got his just rewards for loads of sterling placed efforts when finally getting off the mark for the season at Doncaster last time out. Staying on strongly in the latter stages on Town Moor, Dandy Nicholls’ charge powered clear late on to pull readily clear of a decent field and having landing this prize following a similar profile last year, lightning looks like striking twice for this popular grey.
Micky Halford’s team continues to thrive and in the shape of SALTONSTALL (best price 7-1), the Co Kildare handler has a two-year-old contender worthy of a tilt at this listed prize. Promising on debut at Naas, the son of Pivotal duly stepped up on that initial outing with a smooth performance at Limerick last time out and with the time figure of the race suggesting in was a decent juvenile contest of its kind, he has enough qualities to make an impact on his first try in pattern company.
Given how well Renniti left his field for dead with an amazing turn of foot at Navan last time out, it would be folly to leave Willie Mullins’ charge out of the reckoning, but at the same time, he’s not the most reliable of characters, so reluctantly he’s passed over in favour of ROCONGA best price 12-1) and RASHAAN (best price 33-1). The former has really come of age of late after threatening to do so for quite some time, and given the way he won back on the Flat at Fairyhouse last time out, it would be no surprise to see Edward O’Grady’s charge in the thick of the action in a race that should suit his strong-travelling style of racing. The latter has been in terrific form of late under both codes and he’s far too good a horse to be languishing around in the 20-1 bar pile. His latest effort when pushing the very smart Hidden Cyclone all the way at Punchestown represents solid form and having performed well in the Irish Cesarewitch the time before, Colin Kidd’s inmate has to be worth a dabble at a big price.