Andy Holding has five tips on the first day of Racing in 2018.
ARDERA CROSS (NAP) (best price 3-1) once again proved his love affair for today’s venue with a well-fought victory over fences last time out and with his stats after that win now reading an impressive 121215 at the Co Waterford track, it makes sense to keep him on side on his return visit. In a race run at a very solid tempo for a beginners’ chase, Eoin Doyle’s seven-year-old ended up just proving too strong for the well-fancied Glencaim View and with pair pulling well clear to record useful speed figures, the form reads well on paper. Back over hurdles now off a reasonable mark on ground he likes, the Shantou gelding has every chance of shrugging aside top weight.
SILVER CONCORDE (best price 9-4) has taken well to life under the guidance of Keith Dalgleish and racing over today’s C&D where he’s unbeaten to two starts, the classy veteran can continue his rise back through the ranks. Formerly a top-class dual purpose horse when with Dermot Weld, the 10-year-old had rather lost his way over in Ireland, but shrewdly snapped up by present connections, the old spark seems to be burning bright again. Indeed, his latest victory here 14 days ago came with plenty of his old swagger and with a strong pace to shoot at today likely courtesy of Beeno, Dear Sire and Traditional Dancer all looking to force the issue, he should get the perfect tow into the race he requires.
Predictably, HAMMER GUN (best price 11-2) found himself swimming against the tide over six furlongs here last time out, but he’s fancied to get back on the winning trail now asked to race back over his optimum distance. More accustomed to running close to 38 seconds down the straight rather that the 36 and change he was asked to do 13 days ago, Derek Shaw’s inmate did as well as could be expected in the race eventually won by Captain Lars and with all of his four wins here coming over 7f or further, the five-year-old looks a decent each-way bet with no shortage of pace on at the front end.
Like most horses in his yard at present, ARTHUR’S GIFT (best price 10-3) appears to be thriving, and on the evidence of his latest success over today’s C&D last time out, his winning sequence may not be at an end just yet. Despite looking in a spot of bother two out, the son of Presenting really picked up the bridle on the long run down to the last 17 days ago, and in staying on strongest of all up the hill, he pulled readily clear for a convincing success. Moreover, his overall and sectional times taken from that competitive heat were in line with the two 2m handicap hurdles run on the same card, so, with those findings suggesting that not only does he stay well, but he also has the ability to quicken at the end of his races.
ARTIC PEARL (best price 10-3) would easily have the most scope and ability of today’s rivals, so providing he can convert those qualities to the larger obstacles at the first time of asking, Martin Brassil’s inmate should prove an instant hit on chase debut. Unlucky to bump into several well-treated sorts in several handicaps over hurdles of late, the Shirocco gelding certainly couldn’t be faulted for his application in any way and coming from a stable with a rich tradition of useful chasers down the years (Numbersixvalverde being the highlight) the lightly-raced 10-year-old is expected to know his job well enough to make an impact against this sort of opposition with a clear round.