Andy Holding is on hand with the best advice from around the tracks this afternoon.
Having been beaten when sent off a short-priced favourite in three of his last four starts, ROLLING DYLAN (NAP) (best price 9-4) is one some layers will be looking to get stuck in to, but in the case for the defence, he has the qualities and all-important fitness advantage to make it an uneasy ride for those that are willing to take him on. Proven on today’s testing ground over this C&D courtesy of a fine effort in a competitive and strongly-run handicap on his final start last season, Philip Hobbs’ charge had the misfortune to bump into a thoroughly progressive sort on his opening bow to this campaign at Chepstow. The feature of that race at the Welsh track was the speed figure clocked by the winner and with the pair pulling well clear of the rest, the son of Indian River sets a decent standard for the others to match.
It’s been well documented that most of Sue Smith’s horses have needed the run badly on their seasonal debuts and that appeared to be the case where SPECIAL WELLS (best price 6-1) was concerned here last month. Bang in contention till lack of peak fitness took its toll in the latter stages, the son of Alflora could only plug on at the one pace from two out, but now returning to the scene of his best two performances last season on ground that will suit him more than most, he rates a decent each-way bet at the morning prices to make his presence felt.
Given the change in conditions due to overnight rain, this extended 3m hurdle is likely to be attritional and having proven himself on testing ground last season, ALLYSSON MONTEREY (best price 9-1) makes plenty of appeal despite this being his seasonal debut. Running well fresh on his opening bow last term, Richard Hobson’s charge went on to run a blinder in a quality novices’ contest over today’s course on New Year’s Day and following another solid performance on heavy ground at Leicester next time, he rounded off his season by finishing a creditable sixth in The Albert Bartlett at the Festival (keep on well after getting outpaced coming down the hill). Beginning this campaign off a workable mark of 138, he has the qualities and time on his side to work his way through the ranks and this looks the ideal starting point for this likeable six-year-old.
Mark Usher has only had six individual winners this season, but he often pulls a rabbit from the hat every now and then and in the shape of KINGS HEART (best price 20-1), the Lambourn handler has a prime candidate for his latest piece of possible wizardry. A winner of a nursery at Ffos Las earlier in the campaign, the son of Zoffany has failed to add to his tally in three subsequent efforts, but his latest performance in a competitive affair at Newbury suggests he has distinct possibilities of landing another prize somewhere along the line when the cards fall in his favour. Scrubbed along before halfway in a strongly-run race at the Berkshire venue, he finished off his race well enough to suggests he might have had a say in the finish had he engaged his mind at an earlier stage and providing Steve Drowne can get his mount into a decent early position this time around, he has a chance of nicking a place at the very least.