Our resident pundit picks out his best bets on a big day of action around the country.
DONNCHA (best price 9-1) was extremely unlucky in this contest last year and even though he hasn’t managed to win a race since that day, circumstances have rather conspired against him in quite a few of the valuable, big-field handicaps he’s contested. A middle draw ended up being the deciding factor when he was a never-nearer third in the Betfred Mile at Goodwood in August and it wasn’t as if he was done any favours in both the two big mile races at Ascot towards the backend of the season. Once again, Robert Eddery’s inmate proved that a well-run contest over a mile are his ideal conditions when a solid third in the Lincoln on his seasonal reappearance and even though the ground was against him last time out in the Spring Mile at Newbury, he still managed to run close to his very best form. Coming with a run towards the business of the race, the son of Captain Marvellous found himself short of room at a crucial stage and with the form of that race at the Berkshire venue working out a treat since (Fastnet Tempest, George William, Zhui Feng and Master Carpenter all running to high standard next time) it would come as something of a surprise if he wasn’t heavily involved in the final outcome with soft ground likely to suit him more than many of his rivals.
No doubt all eyes will be on Brian The Snail here being the real sexy horse of the race, but while the market has reacted predictably towards Richard Fahey’s charge, the layers have unjustifiably dismissed KYLLANG ROCK (best price 6-1) despite him having relatively solid credentials. Not quite mentally ready for his two big assignments in pattern company as a two-year-old last year, James Tate’s charge appears ready to step up a gear or two on the evidence of his opening salvo this term. Despite fly-jumping as the stalls opened, the son of Kyllachy had too much quality for his six opponents and with the ground on the Knavesmire coming just at the right time, he can easily outrun his odds. Although it may to asking too much of him to floor the jolly, it would come as no surprise if he were good enough to chase him home at the very least, so therefore he makes plenty of appeal in the without the favourite market.
For those of us who backed Lachares to land what looked an ordinary maiden over tonight’s course last time, we couldn’t believe our eyes when YOU CAN’T CATCH ME (NAP) (best price 11-4) swept by Ellmarie Holden’s charge as if he were standing still rounding the home turn, but that’s not for the first time the selection has sprung to life at this evening’s venue so in mitigation, it probably wasn’t the biggest shock in the world it seemed at first glance. On his second outing at the Co Tipperary venue back in 2015, Kieran Purcell’s gelding ran out an impressive winner of a competitive handicap, and he confirmed his liking for the undulating track with back-to-back victories on his return visits here this time last year. Although beaten by one of his main market rivals, War Of The Pennys on his latest outing over hurdles, the combination of 3m and soft ground just stretched his stamina to the limit, but with ideal conditions in place this evening, another bold display looks on the cards.
WARRIORS SPIRIT (best price 7-2) shaped with plenty of encouragement on his first start of the campaign at Newbury and given the subsequent performances of those around him that day, Richard Hannon’s inmate is fancied to be competitive in this similar contest. Unfavourably drawn to begin with at the Berkshire track, the son of Requinto also found himself outpaced as the pace quickened appreciably with three furlongs to run, but in keeping on strongly in the latter stages to be a never-nearer seventh, he gave out positive signals that a step up in trip with some cut in the ground would see him in a better light. Furthermore, the race in question couldn’t have worked out any better with the likes of Winning Ways and Zamjar going on to record victories subsequently and having already accounted for Dante and Derby springer, Crystal Ocean on soft ground as a two-year-old, his credentials are plain for all to see.