Andy Holding has five picks today, including four from the Future Champions Festival
KEW GARDENS (best price 15-8) ran perfectly respectably despite ground conditions being far from ideal in the Beresford Stakes last time and he’s strongly fancied to sign off for the year with an important pattern-race victory next to his name returning to a sounder surface. Although he failed to cope with stable mate and leading Derby contender for next season, Saxon Warrior, at the Co Kildare venue, Aidan O’Brien’s inmate kept on well enough to keep the margin of defeat down to a respectable distance and with the fifth-placed horse, Rizayan going on to advertise the strength of form next time out at Dundalk, the son of Galileo should go close to following suit.
As everyone has seemed to cotton on to, looking towards those who’ve done particularly well at the winter game isn’t a bad strategy in this stamina-sapping event and both SWAMP FOX (best price 18-1) and BYRON FLYER (best price 22-1) fit the profile of many previous winners. The former has been a terrific money-spinner under both codes for connections over the past two seasons and his performance in the ultra-tough Galway Hurdle two starts ago when narrowly touched off by the gamble-on Tigris River, has to go down a PB (none of today’s field would have finished second in a Galway Hurdle). Prior to that excellent effort, Joe Murphy’s inmate had shown his adaptability by running a huge race in the big amateur riders race on the opening day of the festival three days earlier and with a whole host of subsequent winners in behind him that day, including the likes of Lagostovegas and Rashaan, the form looks solid. A real strong traveller in his races, a proper gallop over this sort of trip should prove idea for this terrier-like son of Windsor Knot and odds of 18-1 with six places on offer make plenty of appeal.
The latter has been knocking at the door all season without maximum reward but his form ties in quite nicely with many of today’s runners and he, too, should appreciate the examination paper set before him (stays 2m 4f over hurdles). Of his recent runner-up spots, his effort when chasing home Jaameh in a strongly-run affair over on the July course back in June reads the best on paper and with the fourth home that day, Nakeeta, going on to have his day in the sun on his next outing in the Ebor, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Ian Williams’ charge can follow suit here.
Having won first time out at this meeting last year, it’s safe to assume that connections have had this race in mind for ROCK THE KASBAH (NAP) (best price 9-2) for some time, so there’s every chance he will be fit enough to do himself justice. Although Philip Hobbs’ inmate only managed to win once more during the campaign, it’s significant regarding his chance today that it also came over today’s course and that took his stats at the track to an impressive 2211. On his final outing last season, the son of Shirocco ran well enough despite not really finding the ground or track to his liking in the Bet365 at Sandown, but now returning to action over a C&D that clearly plays into his strengths, a big run looks assured off a decent mark of 142.
Since dropping back down to 6f, THAFEERA (best price 7-2) has improved immeasurably and she’s fancied to finish off her season in grand style and complete the four-timer. Impressive both visually and on the clock at Yarmouth back in July, Charlie Hills’ inmate duly followed up next time out at Nottingham, but it was her performance at Salisbury last time out which really got the pulses races and suggested she could easily be pattern class. The way she moved through the race before quickening away from a useful field oozed pure quality and this free-flowing daughter of War Front should be well at home on today’s decent surface.
SPARK PLUG (best price 11-2) has been withdrawn three times this season owing to soft ground, so there’s certainly no chance of that scenario occurring here this afternoon with conditions ideal for Brian Meehan’s inmate to run to his best. Winner of last season’s Cambridgeshire under a big weight, the son of Dylan Thomas began this campaign with a solid third in the Earl Of Sefton Stakes over the same C&D and he didn’t have to wait too long to open his account as that victory came courtesy of a smooth success at Sandown in the height of summer. Although beaten last time out at Windsor, yesterday’s final winner, Chain Of Daisies, adds extra substance to the value of the form and everything looks set fair for another bold show from this ever-consistent six-year-old.