I have little doubt that the Kevin Ryan newcomer Armandihan could well be very smart and reports emanating from Hambelton Lodge suggest that the lofty entries held by the Breeze-Up purchase are far from pie-in-the-sky. He could well dot up but many a juvenile has suffered from stagefright on his first day at school and the 3-1 on offer hardly looks that enticing in a race where there is plenty of proven talent on display. At the odd, best 4-1, it could well be best to give the nod to HUSHOOD who looks a tough nut to crack and worth a 1pt each-way investment.
The Richard Hannon-trained colt showed plenty of promise in a warm seven furlong maiden at Newbury in August when sixth, beaten four lengths, to Ultimate Avenue and then stepped up on that effort at Chepstow last month when repelling the heavily odds-on Good Omen by half a length. Hushood had made all and battled on in determined fashion in the closing stages when the runner-up looked set to take his measure and they had four and a half lengths back to the third. Good Omen has since hacked up at Bath and Hushood’s brand of toughness could well pay dividends on the long trek to the West of Scotland.
Clifford Lee has been been one of the apprentice finds of the season and his 7lb claim could well tips the scales the way of JAY KAY in this seven furlong handicap. The seven-year-old gelded son of Librettist has shown a distinct like for this course and four of his seven career successes have come at this venue. His latest effort was when failing by a short head behind Bahamian Bird over course and distance when attempting to concede 18lb to that three-year-old and he was beaten a head by Oak Bluffs in the corresponding race 12 months ago off today’s mark of 74. He could well have been trained with this day in mind by the ever astute Karl Burke and Bahamian Bird has advertised the form of his latest run when beaten only half a length off a 5lb higher mark at Carlisle next time and is 6lb worse off today. Lee’s claim could well prove vital and Jay Kay looks worth a 1pt investment.
David Lanigan should know exactly where he stands with current market leader Abdon in the Listed Doonside Cup and I have little doubt he would regard ALMODOVAR vastly superior to stablemate Gershwin. That horse was beaten only half a length by Abdon in receipt of 4lb at Haydock in August and Almodavar was considered good enough to take his chance in the Group 1 Juddmonte International at York the same month – albeit making little impression when hold up tactics were adopted against the mighty Postponed. He had looked a potential Group performer when making all and cruising home by six lengths from Sarsted on his reappearance under topweight at Kempton in May and very much underlined that he was from the upper echelon when third to Dartmouth and Highland Reel in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes over a mile and a half at Royal Ascot in June. This is a much easier assignment and I expect him to adopt his more familiar front running role to more rewarding effect.