14.20 Curragh

It’s been well documented that the executives at the Co Kildare venue have tried their best in the last few seasons to make the draw a more level playing field for all by placing the stalls in the middle of the track on the sprint course, but on the evidence of what we saw at the meeting here a month ago when there were sizeable fields (30, 23 and 27 respectably), those drawn towards the nearside fence held a significant advantage. Add in to the equation last week’s all-the-way Navan winner, Haqeeba, who will no doubt be trying to adopt similar tactics from his stall 23 gate, and those positioned in the high numbers where the pace is likely to be set might be worth focusing on. 

One of those housed in a potentially favoured stall is GOPSIES DAUGHTER (best price 11-2) and although she’s yet to hit the heights during mid-summer last season, there were signs at Navan last time out that she’s working her way back to peak form. Nearest at the finish when just better than mid-division in a similar race won by Verhoyen over today’s C&D two starts ago, Denis Hogan’s mare fared much better at the Co Meath track last time out and when you add into the equation her poor position out wide during the race, it was an even more meritorious effort. Another significant factor to suggest connections mean business this afternoon is the jockey booking of regular pilot Killian Leonard and having also dropped to a handy-looking mark, the eight-year-old is well capable of outrunning her morning odds.

Another to catch the eye towards the nearside paintwork is PAVED PARADISE (best price 16-1) as she ran better than the bare form suggests in a decent race at Navan last time out. Stuck out in the reeds in stall 13 of 13, Edward Harty’s filly was naturally dropped out in order to give her every chance of being competitive at the business end and although she failed to make a massive impact on the main players, she came home well enough to suggest she would have been a bigger threat but for her poor early track position. A good winner at Dundalk earlier in the campaign when given a fine tactical ride by today’s pilot, the daughter of Lord Shanakill goes onto the shortlist.

Gopsies Daughter - 1pt e/w @ 11/2
Paved Paradise - 0.5pts e/w @ 16/1

15.25 Uttoexeter

YEAVERING BELLE (NAP) (best price 13-8) has been competing at a fairly high level in mares’ bumpers and this looks a decent opportunity for her to make what hopefully will be a winning debut over hurdles. 
An all-the-way winner on her racecourse debut at Warwick, Kim Bailey’s mare hasn’t managed to add to her tally in two starts subsequently, but in her defence, the soft ground was against her at Southwell next time and on her latest outing at Cheltenham, she was taking on some pretty smart opponents from the same sex.

In bidding to make all again at Prestbury Park last month, the daughter of Midnight Legend only succumbed to the strongly finish of two useful sorts in the run up the hill to the line, but at the same time, she impressed by the way she stuck on stoically to the task. Likely to have been well schooled by her in-form handler, the five-year-old chestnut, who also has experience of finishing third in a point-to-point, might just have too much quality for her rivals if she gets into a good early rhythm.

Yeavering Belle - 2pts @ 13/8

17.05 Uttoxeter

Unsurprisingly, Bandsman has been chalked up a short-priced favourite following his victory over fences the other day, but this may not be as straightforward as the betting suggests for Dan Skelton’s top-weight and at the prices ALIANDY (best price 12-1) makes far more appeal.

Although Kim Bailey’s gelding has only score once in 14 career starts, he’s been largely plying his trade against useful opposition in hard-knocking handicaps and his latest effort when last seen highlighted the difficulties he’s been facing of late. Despite running as hard as he could, he just couldn’t give weight away to the progressive Burrows Park over today’s C&D and given that the winner went on to run well at the Cheltenham Festival and is now rated 135, it just goes to show what stiff task he faced that day.

Moreover, even the fourth out of that race, Eur Gone West, has proven the value of the form with two subsequent wins (now rated 133), and with a decent record when fresh (for figures of 212P3 when off for over 50 days or more), the son of Presenting should be capable of outrunning his morning odds.

Aliandy - 0.5pts e/w @ 12/1

17.30 Curragh

PERSIAN LION (best price 6-1) still remains unexposed at today’s trip and following a decent effort on his seasonal return at Killarney the other night, he should be cherry-ripe to go close back over a track where he’s run well on his two previous visits. 

Runner-up to the very smart Falcon Eight the last time Jessica Harrington’s gelding shipped up at the Co Kildare venue, he then went on to score with plenty to spare on his first attempt in handicap company at Leopardstown.  Finding the ground far too deep on his next start at Haydock, the four-year-old just found Group 3 company too hot to handle on his final start of the campaign at Naas next time, but it just shows what regard he’s held in at home the fact that he was allowed to run in a race of that nature.

Looking as though the run would do him the world of good after a 226-day break at the Co Kerry venue last time, he looks poised to run a big race now back in ordinary handicap company on ground that will suit.

Persian Lion - 0.5pts e/w @ 6/1