Horse racing expert, Andy Holding, has four tips to start off the week.
ASHTON COURT (best price 15-2) is frustratingly still searching for his first career win but if ridden in the correct manner, today could well be the day Shark Hanlon’s gelding finally delivers the goods.
Placed on numerous occasions in recent times, including filling out the runner-up spot four times, the evidence is obvious that the son of Court Cave usually runs his race but struggles to get the job complete, but in mitigation, he’s also had his pocket picked after he’s been delivered with his challenge too early. Looking all over a winner at Clonmel two starts ago when travelling down to the second last best, he succumbed to the late thrust of the in-form Zinat and then to rub salt into the wounds, the same movie was played out at Kilbeggan a week later as his old rival just had too much stamina for him in the run to line after he again hit the front going best over two furlongs out. Again left in front way too early at Navan last time (three out), hopefully today’s new pilot, Bryan Cooper, gets the orders to hold onto his mount for as long as possible and if so, he certainly has the ability to win a race of this nature. However which way it pans out, he rates a fairly safe each-way proposition at the morning odds.
14:40 Newton Abbot
THE BEES KNEES (best price 3-1) has heavily involved in what turned out to be an extremely well-run affair over today’s course last time out and despite him facing a couple of in-form rivals open to any amount of improvement, Fergal O’Brien’s gelding is more than expected to hold his own.
Looking in need of the outing when third on his first start after a 158-day break at Market Rasen back in August, the son of Oscar was quietly fancied to shed his maiden tag over hurdles when shipping up at the West Country venue a month later and although he failed to better his finishing position 20 days ago, he did more than enough to suggest his performance levels had greatly improved. Responsible for making it a stern test from over a circuit to race, the five-year-old had many of his main market rivals flat to the boards coming out of the back straight and even though he finally had to admit to defeat after a poor jump at the last, there was no disgrace in finishing third to the highly-progressive Calum Gilhooley. Indeed, the final circuit sectionals from that 2m2f novices event indicated he was trapping along at a fair old rate of knots so even though he’s probably seen as a long-term three-mile chaser by connections, he clearly has enough boot to be competitive over shorter trips for the meantime.
The temptation is to stick with tried and trusted C&D form lines in this sprint handicap, but such was the performance levels of HEY HO LET’S GO (best price 11-1) for the grade at Lingfield last time out, Mark Hoad’s gelding is worth going against conventional wisdom.
0-20 going into his latest encounter at the Surrey venue, the son of Dream Ahead was expected to keep that unwanted stat in place based on his 18-1 starting price, but in turning his fortunes around in no uncertain terms, he ended up winning quite impressively. Moreover, his final three-furlongs split of 32.5 14 days ago strongly pointed towards a horse who ran way beyond his rating at the time of 46 (81-rated Clareyblue ran 35.0 in winning the Class 4 six-furlong handicap), so those numbers strongly back up the view we could be dealing with a totally reformed character. Usually ridden fairly prominently in the past, clearly the new tactics of dropping him out and coming with a late rattle suited the four-year-old down to the ground and with today’s track tailor made for horses with such a run style, hopefully his challenge can be delivered to a tee in similar fashion.
Just in case the four-year-old doesn’t prove an instant hit on his first visit to the Somerset track, THEGRAVYTRAIN (best price 9-1) could easily fly the flag for the Lingfield race as she was the one who ended up chasing home Hey Ho Let’s Go in that strongly run event two weeks ago. No match for the winner in the closing stages that day, Ronald Harris’ filly at least went some way to keeping her fine run of form together and with stats of 82213223 over today’s C&D when the word ‘firm’ has been in the going description, she has ideal conditions to keep that record intact.