Andy Holding has five selections for Saturday's racing, including a NAP at the Curragh
NEW MANDATE (best price 11-4) thoroughly justified the seemingly bold policy to step him up into pattern company at Doncaster last time out following his nursery success previously and with the speed figure he posted on Town Moor also pointing towards this youngster improving beyond all recognition, Ralph Beckett’s colt is fancied to raise his game to even greater heights.
Stepping into the listed Flying Scotsman Stakes off a mark of just 89, it seemed as though the son of New Bay had to find a good deal with several of his main market rivals, but after settling well towards the rear of the bunch, he made relentless progress throughout the final three furlongs to eventual get up close home. Clearly tough and talented in equal measures based on his effort 15 days ago, he also shapes like he will be suited to a step up to today’s mile and with Frankie Dettori keen on maintaining his partnership with this improving colt, he can hopefully take this stiffer examination in his stride.
14:45 Market Rasen
PISGAH PIKE (best price 12-1) lacks the experience of some of these for a race of this nature, but he does have the sort of profile that suggests he may improve for a well-run handicap and he rates a dangerous floater down the foot of the weights.
Having his first outing since wind surgery over today’s C&D back in July, Jamie Snowden’s gelding just lacked the knowhow of the more experienced Sangha River, but he did impress with his attitude in the closing stages, keeping on strongly on the run-in to get within hailing distance of the odds-on favourite. Sent to Hexham in a bid to pick up a weak maiden, the son of Famous Name did just that, but in doing so he also clocked a fairly decent time figure without coming off the bridle which suggests he has a useful engine. Lightly-raced and by no means harshly treated off a mark of 123, the five-year-old should be capable of putting up a bold show.
The Group 1 National Stakes run at the Curragh over seven furlongs is by some way the best two-year-old contest run so far this season in terms of participants and although LUCKY VEGA (best price 5-2) didn’t quite manage to justify his position in the market that day, he still came out of the race with his reputation intact and he’s very much worth another chance to prove he remains one of the best juveniles around.
Undone by track position when narrowly touched off in the Group 2 Railway Stakes on just his second start, the son of Lope De Vega returned to the scene of that valiant effort a month later and in what looked a strong Group 1 on paper beforehand, he ripped the field apart with a smart turn of foot in the latter stages. A warm order to vindicate the impression he created back at his happy hunting ground 13 days ago, Jessica Harrington’s colt ended up being the chief sufferer in what turned out to be a messy affair but given the way he came home after being almost knocked sideways two out, it strongly suggested he would have had a large say in the outcome with a clear run. Being as today’s contest is the last recognised Group 1 six-furlong contest for colts left of the season, it makes sense for connections to go through all the rigmarole of self-isolating and hopefully he will prove the trip over the Irish Sea all worthwhile.
Glancing at the role of honour for this sought-after prize, history dictates that by-and-large you probably need a horse verging on Group class to succeed, but with so many of today’s field potentially falling into that category, the shortlist is in danger of getting to dangerously high levels. However, if you are a little more ruthless and kick out those who don’t have straight track mile experience in similar handicaps to this and then concentrate on course form, BELL ROCK (best price 11-1) jumps out of the page as the ideal candidate.
Since coming back to action via a wind operation, the son of Kingman has posted three top-class efforts in hard-knocking handicaps and with the first of those coming over the Rowley Mile, you’d image connections have had today’s contest firmly in their sights ever since. A creditable sixth in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot despite a poor draw, Andrew Balding’s gelding went on to run another solid race in a hot-race on the numbers at Goodwood last time out and with the form of that contest at the Sussex venue working out well with the likes of Sky Defender, Derevo, Restorer, Fifth Position, Lawn Ranger and Red October all winning or finishing second since, he’s done well to hold on to his mark of 103. Kept fresh since and with regular pilot deserting his old friend Sir Busker seen as a significant development, the four-year-old has also been handed a potentially favourable draw towards the un-poached stands side rail (6 of the last 10 winners all drawn 20 or higher), and hailing from a yard in cracking form of late, he gets the vote to join stable mate Kameko and keep his unbeaten record at the track intact. With some firms betting six, seven and even eights places, it makes sense to have a decent crack at this lightly-raced gelding on those terms.
DANCE JUPITER (NAP) (best price 7-4) shaped with a huge amount of encouragement on his first run back for quite a while at Galway recently and because of that eye-catching performance, this classy-looking sort should be somewhere close to fever-pitch for his next assignment.
A victory over stable mate Patrick Sarsfield in a maiden at Cork when trained by John Kiely, new connections were clearly keen on snapping up this son of Kingsbarns to race alongside their charge in the barn of Joseph O’Brien and that decision should turn out to be a profitable one in the long term. Although he didn’t manage to make a winning start for the Kilkenny handler at Ballybrit earlier in the month, he came out of the contest strongly suggesting it was only a matter of time before he put that right and with today’s more conventional mile likely to suit better than how things panned out for him last time out, the classy four-year-old is expected to take this before going on to much better things.