It goes without saying, previous course form is worth its weight in gold around this unique venue and with that in mind, OASIS FANTASY (best price 14-1) has a decent chance of going well at a track where he’s shown a liking for in the past. Winner of a competitive three-year-old handicap here back in 2014, Ed Dunlop’s charge has run with great credit on three subsequent visits and even though most of his best form is over further than today’s trip, he did run with distinction in the John Smith’s Handicap at York last time out, despite not getting the clearest of runs.
SNOANO (best price 16-1) has run as if the trip has just found him out in his last two starts and he’s got to be worth a small interest now dropping back to his optimum distance of 1m 2f. The way he swept to the front going like a winner in the Old Newton Cup before fading late on still sticks in the memory and having done pretty much the same trick at Ripon last time out, connections are probably wise to ditch the idea of persisting over a trip that clearly stretches his stamina to the limit.
TAKATUL (best price 9-4) exhibited a smart turn of foot to land a Thirsk maiden on his debut and he doesn’t appear to be too badly treated off a mark of 78 for his handicap bow. Coming from someway off the speed at the Yorkshire venue, Charlie Hills’ inmate mowed down his field in the final two furlongs to win with plenty in hand at the line and given that his sectional times were by far and away the best on the seven-race card that day, the official assessor may well live to regret his apparent leniency.
Briar Hill is bound to attract all the attention given that he’s the ‘sexy’ runner in this beginners’ chase, but he may have a job on his hands trying to give 19lb away to the useful four-year-old filly TOCORORO (best price 9-2). Gordon Elliot’s charge has enjoyed a fairly productive first season over hurdles and she cemented her campaign with a sound effort when finishing third to the top class Ivan Grozny in the listed Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary last time out. The feature of that performance was the speed figure she clocked even though she was beaten 11 lengths and if she can translate that sort of level of form to the larger obstacles at the first time of asking, the daughter of Teofilo has enough qualities to give her opponents plenty to think about.
As anticipated, this premier handicap looks a tricky puzzle to solve, but there’s a good chance that GUSSY GOOSE (best price 14-1) can go well at a price. Slightly unlucky when strongly fancied in the big seven-furlong fillies’ handicap here last year, David Wachman’s charge wasn’t seen out until May of this year, so clearly all hasn’t been well with the daughter of Danehill Dancer in that ensuing period. She did, however, shape with a good deal more promise than of late with an eye-catching run at Killarney recently and with her yard seemingly coming out of a terrible run which has cast a spell over the form of the stable for some time, the four-year-old filly should be capable of holding her own if she breaks cleanly from her favoured inside draw.
BEAU SATCHEL (NAP) (best price 7-1) goes really well at this unique track, and as such, rates a first-class each-way bet in this competitive-looking handicap. Adrian McGuiness’ inmate first showed his love affair for the slopes of Ballybrit when landing a 7f handicap back in 2014 and he repeated the dose a year later by capturing a similarly tricky contest in the shadows of the post. Such was his wellbeing at the time, connections decided to have a tilt at a much stiffer examination back at the same track five days later and although he failed in repeat bid, he still covered himself with glory in third. Despite not adding to his win column so far this term, the son of Indesatchel has run notably well on several occasions, including last time out at Navan when he was spotted running on quite strongly at the finish of a competitive 0-110 handicap. Back to the scene of all his best performances, over his optimum trip and from a decent inside draw, everything looks set fair for this six-year-old to go close in his bid to win here for the third consecutive year.