Although there’s no way of telling which horse clocked the fastest time on a card due to no standard times yet at the Gosforth Park venue, the handheld sectionals splits of WAR DEPARTMENT (NAP) (best price 9-4) when he landed a 7f handicap here on Friday night suggest he could turn out to be something of a money spinner on this newly-laid surface. Looking in trouble with two furlongs to go, Keith Dalgleish’s inmate found a ready turn of speed in the latter stages to pull well clear of a decent field in a very short pace of time. A 90-rated performer when formerly trained by Willie Haggas, the combination of a visor and the Tapeta surface clearly allowed the son of Frozen Power to make a mockery of his tumbling mark, and even though he now drops back a furlong, the pace he exhibited three days ago suggests he shouldn’t have too many issues with this new trip if in the same mood.
The drop back to 6f clearly helped GOLD HUNTER’s (best price 9-1) level of performance last time out and he’s fancied to go well again returning to the scene of that career-best victory. Prior to that success, Steve Flook’s charge had been called one or two rude names based on his inability to get the job done when seemingly going best in several previous races, but in hindsight, he probably hasn’t quite been seeing out the trip. Relishing the fast pace he encountered 20 days ago, the son of Invincible Spirit got the job done in pretty decisive fashion and with plenty of natural front runners in today’s line-up, he should get a similar set up to allow him to run at maximum capacity.
A fairly modest sort on the Flat, eight flights of hurdles and good ground clearly made a massive difference to LINGER’s (best price 9-4) fortunes when he scored on his second outing over hurdles, so providing today’s track doesn’t receive any rain in the build up to the race, there’s a decent chance Shark Hanlon’s charge will be able to follow up. Always moving like the winner at the Co Tipperary track last time out, the son of Cape Cross stayed on strongly in the latter stages to lower the colours of many well-fancied juveniles – some of whom had decent early season form – and even though he’s up against one or two potentially useful new recruits this afternoon, hopefully his experience will count for plenty for a yard that does particularly well with their raiders around this tight track.
ECOEYE’s (best price 6-1) form on soft ground over 7f reads 1321, so there’s every reason to feel confident about Augustine Leahy’s charge keeping those impressive stats neat and tidy at a track where he’s already got proven winning form. Indeed, we haven’t the seen the son of Echo Of light out since he recorded a well-deserved victory over tonight’s C&D back in July, but that has probably been down to unsuitable ground to race on in the interim. Back on his favoured surface from a decent inside pitch in trap two, he has plenty in his favour to hit the frame at the very least.
Although well held at the Curragh last time out, NONETHELESS (best price 8-1) still ran to a fair standard in what turned out to be a tremendously strong handicap on the speed figures, and she deserves another chance to build on the promise she’s exhibited in her previous encounters in maidens. Off the mark at the third attempt at Galway, John Oxx’s filly had shaped as though 1m 4f would turn out to be her optimum trip, but as it turned out, a true run race on soft ground at the Co Kildare venue last time out just found her petrol gauge flashing on empty in the final furlong and she ended up finishing fifth after looking likely to win turning for home. Dropping back in trip by two furlongs, should, therefore, fit all her requirements and she’s fancied to get back on track off what still appears to be a fair enough handicap mark.