We've seen winners in consecutive days for Andy Holding: He's got five picks today.
A pretty rank handicap in which the favourite Minella Fiveo appears to have a bit of a glass chin, so it could well be that top-weight HITCHCOCK (best price 4-1) capitalises and rewards the trip over the Irish Sea. Coming from a background of 7f/1m contests on the Flat, it’s easy to see why Barry Murphy’s gelding has sometimes struggled to see out the trip on testing ground in Ireland and that was very much the case last time out at Wexford last time out.
In a well-run affair, the four-year-old loomed up looking threatening on the home turn, but after jumping the second last with a squeak, he just couldn’t quite go with the stronger stayers in the latter stages on the soft ground. Given that the winner, Eight And Bob, had the look of a well-handicapped horse going into that race and the numbers, particularly on the last circuit, stack up well for a low-grade race, the son of Equiano ran to a pretty useful level at the Newtown Road venue.
Although he could have done with a flatter track in an ideal world, at least he’s got decent ground to race on and because the race is so poor, he simply has to be a major consideration whichever way you strip it down.
TRAVERTINE (best price 11-1) hasn’t won for a wee while, but he did show signs on his chasing debut that he’s by no means a lost cause and he can go well in this competitive handicap despite the steadier of top weight.
Fairly useful on the Flat and over hurdles, the eight-year-old has by and large struggled since switching over to these shores but a change of discipline seemed to revitalise him ay Hereford last time out and a repeat of that level of form would surely give him some sort of chance here this afternoon.
In a well-run affair at the Midland venue, Jonjo O’Neill’s gelding kept on well in the latter stages without quite being able to match the finishing kick of the well-handicapped Drovers Lane (may have won at Aintree next time but for bad blunder three out) and with the third horse home, Scoop The Pot advertised the strength of the race with a win at Exeter in midweek, it wouldn’t come as a massive surprise if the son of Danehill Dancer were to follow suit.
Connections of JARLATH (best price 6-1) have plotted an almost identical path to the one he trod before landing this race last year and Seamus Mullins’ inmate looks primed to go well again in his repeat bid. Shaping as though the run was needed on his first run back over hurdles last year, the son of Norse Dancer arrived here a month later in the sort of shape that allowed him to show his best form and capture this 2m 4f handicap chase.
Given a spin over fences last time out just to put the final touches to his preparation here this afternoon, the seven-year-old actually ran really well in a strongly-run affair at Fontwell and with today’s conditions similar to what they were twelve months ago, it would be a surprise if he wasn’t capable of going very close.
THIEF OF JOY (best price 6-1) has shaped with plenty of encouragement on both his two starts to date and he looks to have rock-solid each-way claims now racing a surface that might just allow him to improve a little further.
Noted staying on strongly in the latter stages on debut at Fairyhouse having been stuck out on the wing from a wide draw, Ger Lyons’ juvenile was nicely backed to improve upon that initial effort in the final of the Irish EBF Equine series at Naas on his latest outing.
Held up just off the speed at the Co Kildare venue, the son of Casamento just lacked the tactical speed to hold his good position turning into the straight, and although he kept on quite well late on, he could never muster a meaningful blow at the main players. Based on that performance, he looks to be crying out for further and from his favourable low draw, it’s difficult to see him not having a major part to play in this fairly modest-looking maiden.
Jasikan, who also exhibited plenty of promise in his debut in a hot maiden at the Curragh on his debut, may just turn out to be the biggest threat from a yard whose horses often improve significantly from first run to the second.
Things didn’t quite pan out for KINGS FIELD (NAP) (best price 5-2) in a listed race at Leopardstown last time out, but at the same time he was by no means disgraced, and now he returns to the scene of his previous impressive victory, Joseph O’Brien’s improving gelding is considered a fairly confident choice to put that latest effort behind him.
As is often the case at the Dublin track, the one place you don’t want to be in a slowly-run tactical affair is stuck on the rail as the pace increases in the home straight and that’s exactly where the son of Kodiac found himself in the dash for the line. Although he tried his level best to salvage something from the wreckage, his task ended being a hopeless one and he eventually ran through the line strongly not really having much of a race.
Better judged on his victory at this track two starts ago when he clocked a good speed figure over seven-furlongs, the three-year-old, who remains unexposed, is fancied to continue his progression over a trip that should suit on the evidence of his previous performances.