After 20/1 and 8/1 winners yesterday, Andy Holding has four tips for today. Including a NAP at Pontefract.
The main criteria for GALE FORCE MAYA (NAP) (best price 3-1) to show her best form are a well-run six-furlongs on a stiff track on quick ground, so with all those things set in stone here this afternoon, a big performance is likely to be forthcoming from this admirably-consistent filly.
A cosy winner on her first visit to the Yorkshire venue over a year ago, Michael Dods’ four-year-old has run a series of fine races in victory and defeat since and her latest effort when runner-up in a hot fillies’ contest at Thirsk recently epitomises her qualities. Despite racing over a further than ideal and on easy ground, the daughter of Gale Force Ten still managed to run close to her best when splitting the useful pair Angel Of The Glen and Dawaaween, and with the time figure of the race in question very good, more gloss is added to her performance. Runner-up on last visit to today’s C&D when forced to race out wide for the majority of the contest, she gets the luxury of racing around the favoured inside of the track today and with the likes of Zim Baby, Auchterarder and Prince Des Sables all wanting to force the issue, a pace collapse is likely to play right into her hands with a clear run.
YAIZA (best price 8-1) clearly has an affection for today’s track, as other than one explainable effort when needing the run after a 416-day break, he has an unblemished record around the Waterford venue and with conditions almost identical to what they were when he posted some sound numbers in victory 34 days ago, Liam Burke’s gelding rates a fair bet at the morning odds to secure course win number three.
Very strong in the latter stages when a comfortable winner of a maiden hurdle over today’s C&D almost a year ago, the son of Well Made wasn’t so effective when going the other way around at Wexford next time, resulting in him being a disappointing favourite. Never a factor following his huge layoff, the lightly-raced nine-year-old didn’t waste much time getting back in the zone on his return visit to his happy hunting ground, when once again he proved to be very strong in the final half a mile, so much so that his final circuit time was the quickest to the tune of 3.4 seconds. Based on those figures and knowing how well his handler’s horses often perform around this tight, undulating right-handed circuit, he makes far more appeal than his price indicates.
Of his main market rivals, both Rebel Waltz and Hello Pilgrim have yet to step foot at today’s track, while similar comments also apply to veteran Supreme Vinnie who, in any case, seems to save most of his best form for the galloping nature of Punchestown.
There are several newcomers who could easily step up to the plate and make an impact on debut – most notable Russian River - in this fillies’ maiden, but it’s probably not a bad policy to stick with those with a little bit of experience under their belts and of the octet, THE BLUE GARTER (best price 13-2) and KEEPER OF TIME (best price 8-1) make the most appeal at the morning odds.
The former has a bit to find strictly on the form book with Perfect Match on their Down Royal clash 13 days ago, but considering she gave Johnny Murtagh’s filly a huge head start courtesy of an extremely slow break, the daughter of Kodi Bear is fancied to go a long way to bridge the gap. Sent off 20-1 at the Co Down venue, Noel Meade’s filly made her task an even harder one by dwelling badly out of the stalls, so it was to her utmost credit that she managed to erode most of the lost ground up come the finish and to get within three lengths of eventual winner Mooneista, who went into the contest as the clear form pick, shows there’s plenty of ability under her bonnet. Obviously, she’s going to have to be a good deal more alert leaving the gates this time around but providing she does come out of terms, a big run looks inevitable.
The latter was a bit of an audacious pick by yours truly in a Group 3 contest at Leopardstown on Saturday and while fully excepting her last place finish wasn’t exactly what the doctor ordered, she actually didn’t run as badly as the bare form suggests. A little keen early on at the Dublin venue, she then proceeded to get shuffled back through the pack to find herself in last place turning for home and although she ended up unable to pass a single rival in the straight, she did keep on willingly all the way to the line to only get beaten six lengths all told. Hopefully the daughter of Mehmas would have learnt plenty from that experience and if so, she has enough natural ability to be more of a factor in these much calmer waters.