Andy has five bets, including a two-point each-way nap at Dundalk this evening.
TAKE THE HELM (best price 12-1) conclusively proved during the summer that he’s not really in love with the turf, but as a result of many indifferent performances, he now rates a more viable proposition off a tumbling handicap mark back on Polytrack. The last time Brian Meehan’s inmate set foot on an all-weather surface was when he finished a creditable fifth behind Haalik in a listed contest over today’s course back in March and considering he was rated 89 at the time, he ran way beyond expectations against proper Group horses. Now 6lb lower, the Monsieur Bond gelding is clearly well treated on the basis of that form, and even though he’s yet to prove himself beyond 7f, his price more than compensates the risk.
WEST APPROACH (best price 11-2) left the impression he might well have won on his seasonal reappearance had the race panned out more favourably, and he’s afforded another chance to turn the tables on his old rival Wholestone. Confidently ridden in a slowly-run affair over today’s course 20 days ago, Colin Tizzard’s charge just got caught out as the race developed into a dash for the line rounding the home turn and although he stayed on strongly all the way up the hill, the more prominently ridden winner just got first run. Likely to be seen to better effect in a more evenly-run race over today’s trip, the son of Westerner can reward solid each-way support.
Having landed a nationwide punt with Quick Jack in this race several years ago, all eyes will be on TUDOR CITY (best price 4-1) representing the Tony Martin/John Breslin axis, and given how well this four-year-old scored on the Flat at Limerick when last seen, it would come as little surprise to see a similar welter of cash in his direction. Yet to reach his full potential over hurdles, the son of Yeats was a big disappointment the last time he tackled the smaller obstacles (heavy ground to blame), but given his current wellbeing and shrewd connections, it wouldn’t be the biggest shock in the world to see him produce his best when it counts the most.
COMMANDER COLE (best price 2-1) improved significantly when stepped up in trip at Newcastle last time out and he can stamp his authority on this small, but select, field. Making his all-weather debut in the first time hood, Saeed Bin Suroor’s charge posted a smart time in spread-eagling his field in the latter stages of the Gosforth Park venue and given that the strongest part of his performances was the last two furlongs, he shouldn’t have too many fears racing over an extra furlong this evening.
One of the standout performances by a juvenile on the clock towards the backend of the season was by Cliffs Of Moher at Leopardstown in mid-October and in the shape of SHAHROZE (NAP) (best price 9-2), we get an early indication to see how whether the form is worth following. In-keeping with many of Michael Halford’s two-tear-olds first time out, the son of Holy Roman Emperor was a pretty green throughout the majority of the race, but having seemingly been in a pretty hopeless position turning for home, it was encouraging to say the least how well he finished off his race to be a never-nearer sixth at the line. Given that time figure produced by the winner was better than the one achieved by the ever-reliable and solid Group-race performer Sovereign Debt over the same trip by a second, it just goes to show what the selection was up against on the day. Therefore, allowing for just normal improvement – especially over an extra furlong – it would come as something of a surprise if this well-bred individual wasn’t heavily involved in the outcome with that initial experience tucked under his belt.