Horse racing expert Andy Holding has four tips for today's racing, including a 2pt NAP at Navan.
Some interesting and lightly-raced types making their handicap debuts all contribute to ensure the curtain raiser at the Merseyside is full of intrigue, but the solid one who has already been there and done it at this level is KING’S CHARISMA (best price 4-1) and he’s fancied to keep his foot down hard on the throttle while still allowed to run in this grade.
Gelded after four promising efforts last rem, David O’Meara’s three-year-old made his seasonal return at Redcar 12 days and in what appeared a competitive little heat on paper beforehand, he ended up making a mockery of his opening perch of 66. Cruising to the front at the two-furlong pole, the son of Teofilio only had to be nudged along for minimal pressure to pull well clear of his toiling rivals and stopping in the clock in a smart time for the grade, he strongly suggested he belonged at a much higher level. Obviously, he’s now got and go and prove himself on a totally different surface, but he didn’t run too badly on his only encounter on heavy ground last season so hopefully he won’t have too many issues on that score.
FACE OFF (best price 3-1) has only been out of the first three once in six handicap starts at today’s venue, so following a highly-encouraging effort first time out here last time, Charles O’Brien’s mare is fancied to keep that excellent record intact.
Off the mark at the tenth time of asking when landing a competitive affair over today’s C&D a year ago, the daughter of Mizzen Mast has by and large been a pretty consistent performer since, and her latest display just over a week ago reinforced her appetite for the game and likelihood of another profitable season ahead. Racing prominently from the start, the four-year-old grey picked up the running going well at the two pole and although it looked momentarily as she was in a fine position to capture her second career victory, the rapidly-improving Boughtinthedark loomed large on the scene to steal her thunder. She did, however, manage to pull well clear of the rest and now, with that all-important run under her belt, she looks poised strike again for a stable hitting a nice bit of form.
SONNYBOYLISTON (best price 6-1) looked a three-year-old to keep on side judged on his comeback win at Gowran last time out and hailing from a yard who show no signs of stopping at present, Johnny Murtagh’s gelding is taken to defy a dramatic rise in the ratings.
Having only shown a modicum of ability in three starts last season, it was hard to know what to expect of the son of Power on his first outing for 254 days, but the market signs beforehand strongly suggested a big performance would be forthcoming and that’s exactly how things panned out. Tracking the pace going well turning into the straight, the three-year-old chestnut picked up the running with just over two furlongs to run and from that point onward he maintained a strong gallop all the way to the line to score with seemingly plenty left in the tank. Clocking a fair overall time, it was also noticeable his splits for the backend of the race worked out extremely favourably against the rest of the card and, as a result, it was almost inevitably his future belonged in a much higher grade. Whether a 16lb hike was totally justified only time will tell, but either way, he very much has the bit between his teeth and tonight’s stiffer test on soft ground should turn out to be well within his range.
PATRICK SARSFIELD (NAP) (best price 7-4) has always given the impression he could turn out to be a pattern performer in the making and having dished out a proper beating to the last bunch of handicappers he faced, it makes perfect sense to stay loyal to Joseph O’Brien’s gelding while he still gets the chance to race at this level.
After scoring with gay abandon in maiden at the Curragh last season, the four-year-old underwent a gelding operation with a view to perhaps improving his game even further and on the evidence of what we witnessed at Leopardstown the other day, the procedure looks to have worked the trick. Always cantering at the Dublin-based track, the son of Australia made a mockery of his opening handicap mark of 86 and even though he arrives here having to deal with an inevitable rise in the ratings, he still has the qualities to offset the hike. A big, powerful strapping individual, he has the ability to travel supremely well on soft ground and with tonight’s trip threatening to bring about even further improvement, bookmakers will be hoping he simply has an off day.