After winners at 5/2 and 15/2 yesterday, Andy Holding has eight selections for today, with a NAP at the Curragh
Some nice middle-distance colts on show here in the opener, but the form of the King George handicap at Royal Ascot stands out as a race to follow and having run well from a wide draw at the Berkshire venue ARTHURIAN FABLE (best price 4-1) has a fair chance of turning the form around with his old rival, Group One Power.
Wide and unable to get any cover on the run down to Swinley Bottom, Brian Meehan’s colt ended up wasting valuable energy in the early part of the race, so it was to his ultimate credit he managed to keep going as long as he did to finish a creditable fifth. Although Group One Power came from a good way back to eventually run him down and finish one place ahead of him, there’s no doubt he got the more conservative ride and better trip of the pair and with Arthurian Fable having twice already proved that he has no issues with soft ground, he rates the value pick of the pair on this occasion.
As we witnessed here yesterday with Qaader, the form of the Coventry Stakes isn’t as hot as usual, so for all promise that Saieqa has shown so far to date, he’s worth opposing at the prices in favour of YOUTH SPIRIT (best price 9-1) at much bigger odds.
Easy to back on his debut at Haydock 16 days ago, Andrew Balding’s colt had his chances of winning lengthen even further as he dwelt coming out of the stalls and finding himself in last place as the field turned for home, it then became a simple exercise of trying to obtain the best possible finish without blowing his brains. To his great credit, the son of Camelot kept chipping away at the deficit all the way down the straight and by the time he’d hit the line, he managed to get within hailing distance of some pretty smart juveniles. Indeed, the time figure at the Merseyside venue strongly suggested it was a fair race of its kind and with that all-important experience under his belt, this imposing two-year-old will hopefully be able to make a much bigger impact second time around.
The fillies’ maiden won by Bearberry over today’s C&D two weeks ago looks a strong piece of form and having shaped the likeliest winner for a long way, FEMINISM (best price 5-2) is taken to make amends for her narrow defeat.
Noted travelling well as the field went by the intersection, Mick Halford’s filly went for an ambitious run down the inside of the track and while it took her half a furlong to burrow her way through the crowd, the eventual winner came with an uninterrupted run down the outside to claim the spoils close home. Despite her agonising defeat, her performance was an improvement on her opening display when fifth of 18 at Naas and this classy-looking chestnut filly has a decent draw in stall one to get a good tow into the race over on the far side rail.
Although down the field in the same race 14 days ago, SISTER ELIZA (best price 33-1) showed enough promise to warrant a small interest in this carbon-copy event on her return to the Co Kildare track here tonight. Slow away and green through the early exchanges, the daughter of Footstepsinthesand still looked clueless as the field rattled down to the three-furlong pole, but it was from that point onward when she finally worked out what was required. Coming home with a good deal of purpose, Gordon Elliot’s filly went through the line full of running to leave the impression she would be a totally different proposition next time and even though it would be asking a lot for her to go and win a race of this nature at just her second attempt, it wouldn’t come as a complete shock if she were to outrun her morning odds.
Easily the more competitive division of the two 1m4f 0-65 handicaps and LEAHMAN (best price 5-1) and PLACE DES VOSGES (best price 7-1) have the sort of credentials to suggest they should both play some sort of role in the outcome.
The former could never land a meaningful blow in a similar contest at Navan last time out, but at the same time, he did shape better than the bare result suggested and he’s certainly worth another chance. Held up going well coming down the hill from three out, Terence O’Brien’s gelding proceeded to run into wall of horses falling back into his lap and, as a result, he ended up almost jogging home without being subject to anything like a hard race. Likely to be all the better for that initial outing after a 219-day layoff, this winner over hurdles in the winter should be capable of going close off his bargain basement mark on the evidence of his display at the Co Meath venue.
The latter has slightly more compelling recent form courtesy of two solid efforts in well-run affairs at Fairyhouse and he looks poised to make a breakthrough sooner rather than later. As it turned out, he was just too far back to gather in the more prominently ridden Red Vermillion at the Meath venue 15 days ago, but his performance was still very encouraging all the same. Nicely drawn here tonight in stall one, he should be able to hold a good position on the run around into the straight and from that point, the stiff, uphill climb to the line should give him ample time to hit top gear.
There has to be an element of risk attached to THREE MUSKETEERS (best price 5-1) considering we haven’t seen him for well over a year, but at the same time, he looks just the type to catch fresh and the mere fact that connections have pitched him into a race off this competitive nature for his comeback run strongly suggests he’s fit and raring to go.
Useful when with Dan Skelton, the son of Flemensfirth made an immediate impact for new connections when landed an ultra-competitive handicap hurdle at Aintree over a year ago and in doing so, he clocked a very smart time figure. Well-backed to repeat the dose at the Punchestown Festival a month later, Gordon Elliot’s inmate never travelled with the same panache as he did at the Merseyside track and he eventually trailed in towards the rear of the field. On the evidence of these two performance, the 10-year-old looks the type to catch right when fresh and with his old chase mark very attractive compared to his hurdle rating, he rates one of the likeliest winners of a typically competitive renewal of this sought-after prize.
Not only will a few of these be eager to capture this prize, but also put their credentials on the line for the Ebor at York later in the season and one who will have both of those targets firmly in his sight is DALTON HIGHWAY (NAP) (best price 15-2).
A model of consistency over the last few season under both codes, Dermot Weld’s gelding once again proved how good he can be when at his very best when taking a similar contest over tonight’s course on his seasonal reappearance and a reproduction of the same sort of form should see him somewhere in the mix again on his return visit. Noted going well as the field turned for home at the Co Kildare venue, the son of Zoffany found a rare turn of foot at the backend of a two-mile event, so much so, that his closing sectionals were almost identical to those posted by Speak In Colours and Magical earlier on the same card. Taking his recent for figures here to 121 with that impressive victory, the seven-year-old is clearly right on top of his game and even though he could do with an extra two furlongs in an ideal world, he’s still strongly fancied to make his presence felt back at his happy hunting ground.