A massive day in the racing calendar and ten tips for it from Andy Holding.
Stradivarius has been the dominant force in this division for quite some time not, but it’s worth bearing in mind, his only two tries on soft ground resulted in defeat, so he has to rate a slightly dodgy betting proposition at short odds despite his class.
If there is to be a joker in the pack, SIR EREC (best price 15-2) appeals as one of the most likely to take advantage of any slip-ups from the jolly and unlike his main market rivals, Aidan O’Brien’s inmate won’t have any issues whatsoever with the testing underfoot conditions. His latest winning performance on heavy ground at Limerick, albeit technically way below the standard required for this level, was a useful one on the figures and given the way he powered clear in the latter stages, a step up in trip has to be viewed as appositive rather than a negative. Lightly-raced, still open to a fair degree of improvement and fresher than most,
As the saying goes, form is temporary but class is permanent and that adage will hopefully apply to LIBRISA BREEZE (best price 15-2) as he bids to end the season on a high following a run of below-par efforts. Hard to fancy on the basis of his poor performance on fast ground when last seen in the Hungerford Stakes, Dean Ivory’s gelding rates a more viable proposition if he can run to the levels he achieved when fourth in the Prix Maurice De Gheest at Deauville on his previous outing. Switched from a high draw to join the main pack towards the nearside rails ended up backfiring on the six-year-old grey that day and in the cold light of day, he did extremely well to finish as close to the main players as could be expected under the circumstances. Seen to best effect when held up off strong fractions on soft ground, over a stiff track, the son of Mount Nelson has form figures of 2121 when those circumstances have arisen and with the highlight of his career coming in this very race twelve months ago, there’s every reason to feel confident about him repeated the dose.
Another with a decent track record is PROJECTION (best price 20-1) and he has to be worth a small each-way investment to keep those fine stats intact. Graduating from top-class handicaps to genuine Group level, the son of Acclamation wasn’t a million miles away in the Diamond Jubilee against the very best 6f sprinters back at the Royal meeting and given that the conditions that day wouldn’t have been ideal, it has to go down as a fair effort by this likeable gelding. Back to his best when getting the better of the well-fancied Dream Of Dreams here last time out, Roger Charlton’s five-year-old comes in here with plenty of confidence and it would come as little surprise to see him run a solid race at a big price.
There may be several with sexier profiles than CORONET (best price 13-2), but John Gosden’s filly looks one of the few who you can rely on to run her race and under ideal conditions over a track she’s gone well in the past, she rates a solid each-way choice at the prices. A creditable third in this race last year, the daughter of Dubawi has done precious little wrong so far this term and her latest effort when runner-up to the top-class mare Sea of Class in the Yorkshire Oaks was well and truly advertised by her conqueror in the Arc next time. Yet to finish out of the frame in three starts at the Berkshire venue, expectation is high that she’ll keep that record intact at the very least. Of those at bigger prices, it would also come as no surprise to see last year’s winner, Hydrangea bounce back to her best form under similar conditions twelve months on and Pilaster is another to come into the mix on ground that threatens to bring out her strongest attributes.
Having suggested getting stuck into Lord Glitters in midweek, confidence remains high that David O’Meara’s grey will justify the heavy each-way staking plan, but for those not already on, there’s still plenty of value on offer with some firms going four and five places to lure punters into their nets. With such concessions too tempting to avoid, it makes sense to look towards others who may turn out to be overpriced under today’s prevailing conditions and the other that makes plenty of appeal at his current odds is STORMY ANTARCTIC (best price 66-1).
Although probably just short of genuine Group 1 class, today’s ground will be a great leveller and it’s noticeable that most of his best races have occurred when there’s been plenty of give underfoot. Certainly not disgraced when seventh behind Minding in this race two years ago, Ed Walker’s five-year-old has produced many top-quality performances since and with a record of 4-4 when the going has ridden soft or heavy, it makes sense to look towards him from an each-way perspective at an insulting 66-1.
16:00 Market Rasen
A difficult race to assess in many ways due to most of the field lacking a recent run, but MASTER DEE (best price 9-2) has a pretty useful record when fresh so for that reason he rates the percentage each-way call with the dead eight runners set to go to post. A hugely admiral and consistent performer over the years, Fergal O’Brien’s gelding amazingly hasn’t finished out of the first three in all his 21 career starts, so that’s a solid starting point, and then if you add on top the fact he arrives here off the back of his best ever performance when capturing the competitive Betdaq Handicap Chase at Kempton when last seen back in February, his claims become even more compelling. Although today’s trip might just be short of his best, the son of King’s Theatre doesn’t lack for pace and with his 10lb conditional - set to become a massive asset for his stable throughout the season - easing the burden of top weight, the nine-year-old makes plenty of appeal at the morning prices.
A tough concluding handicap and while Raising Sands looks nailed on to run well following his smooth victory over his favourite track at the last meeting, MITCHUM SWAGGER (best price 12-1) and ZWAYYAN (best price 16-1) make slightly more appeal at the prices.
The former was undeniably disappointing last time out at Haydock, but you only have to go back one run to find his best form for ages when he was a creditable third in the Lincoln behind the likes of Addeybb and Lord Glitters (both running in the Group 1 earlier on the card). Clearly a repeat of that sort of form should see him in the mix here this afternoon and it’s also worth pointing out that he’s gone well over today’s C&D when there’s been plenty of give in the ground in the past.
The latter can be a little bit of a tricky customer, but, he, too can also play a significant role providing he brings his A-game to the party and is worth adding on to the list. Down the field when fast ground and poor stable form at the time were genuine excuses in the Cambridgeshire last time, prior to that he’d gone well on his two starts this season over today’s course and with one of the finds of the season, Jason Watson, on board, the little magician might just conjure another piece of wizardry on Andrew Balding’s five-year-old.
PERFECT TAPATINO (best price10-3) could have done with a better draw, but he’s improving at a such a rapid rate of knots that he might be able to overcome that slight impost and record his third win in five starts since switching yards. A big eye-catcher on his first outing for Joseph O’Brien here over a mile back in August, the son of Perfect Soul vindicated the impression he created that day when upped in trip at the Curragh on his next start and even though he failed in his bid to follow up next time at Gowran, the drop back two furlongs was a valid excuse for his defeat. Having his first try at 1m 4f at Naas last time out, the four-year-old chestnut relished every yard of the trip to get up close home and win with a bit to spare and with the speed figure also pointing towards the strengths of the performance being first-class for the grade, even his new rating of 75 still way short of potential capabilities.