Horse racing expert, Andy Holding has five tips for today's meetings, including a NAP at Dundalk.
Now the legendary John Oxx has announced his retirement, everyone in racing will willing for the Currabeg handler to bow out in style and in the shape of EARLSWOOD (best price 9-2), he has a fine chance of witnessing this promising colt not only going close to winning here today, but setting himself up for a bright future.
Sent off one of the big outsiders on his debut at the Curragh 19 days ago, the son of Pivotal was never in a position to bely his 100-1 quotes, but at the same time, he did more than enough to suggest a bright future awaits him further down the line. Way off the pace at the halfway stage at the Co Kildare venue, he made up a substantial amount of ground in the latter stages to finish a never-nearer fifth and with the winner, Van Gogh, going on to finish third in a Group 3 contest, his form represents one of the strongest this contest has to offer.
CORMIER (best price 15-8) transferred his recent good run of form on the Flat back to hurdles on his latest outing at Uttoxeter and even though he faces a tough opponent in the shape of Medalla Del Oro, Brian Ellison’s gelding is fancied to continue his progression.
Wildly impressive when an 11-length winner at Catterick three starts ago, the son of Born To Sea just found one too good in his repeat to follow up at Ayr next time, but it was a case of normal services resumed when changing codes two weeks later as he ran out a smooth winner of a useful-looking novices’ hurdle. Always travelling well at the Midland venue, the four-year-old exhibited a smart turn of foot to dispose of the heavily-backed favourite, Faivior, and with the time figure backing up the visual aspect of the display, he rates a confident choice to provide his main market rival with all the trouble he can handle.
A funny old claimer as the three highest rated horses all have serious questions to answer regards the trip and their wellbeing so, as it often pays to totally disregard handicap marks in a race of this nature anyhow, MOVING FORWARD (best price 9-1) is the recommendation based on him being one of the few guaranteed to run his race on a surface he enjoys.
A winner at Kempton when trained by Saeed Bin Suroor back in the day, the son of Street Cry has recently joined the upwardly mobile stable of Andrew Kinirons and on his first outing for new connections, he provided them with an instant return on investment when a creditable third in a decent handicap behind Ela Katrina. Although he couldn’t quite go with the two main principals late on, he did more than enough to suggest he can be competitive on a regular basis at this venue throughout the winter and with a decent break from a favourable draw likely to put him in the mix from an early stage, the five-year-old is expected to hang around until the medals are being distributed.
The form figures of FLYING ROCK (best price 12-1) don’t look that promising at first glance, but at least two of her three performances so far to date have been a good deal better than her finishing positions have suggested and, as a result, she rates an interesting contender on nursery debut off what appears a workable mark.
Shaping nicely on her debut Leopardstown back in July, Fozzie Stack’s filly then found the combination of soft ground and being stuck out on the wing in a hot Curragh maiden won by subsequent Dewhurst winner, St Mark’s Basilica, too much to bear (runner-up, third, ninth and tenth all won since). Once again, involved in a strong race based on opposition and speed figures last time out at Cork, she would have finished a good deal closer but for meeting interference inside the final two furlongs, but all of that means she seems to have escaped the attentions of the assessor as she arrives here with a opening perch of 63. Given her pedigree and action, she should turn out to be fully effective on tonight’s surface and from a reasonably good draw in stall five, the daughter of Air Force Blue makes more appeal at the morning prices than she’s been afforded.
Despite only managing fourth last time out at Fairyhouse, CRYSTAL DAWN (NAP) (best price 9-4) still intimated she’s very much one to keep on side and now she returns to the scene of her sole career victory to date, Gavin Cromwell’s filly receives a huge vote of confidence to add to her tally.
Impressing in all departments when scoring here in August, the daughter of Rip Van Winkle was a shade disappointing when bidding to follow up back on turf at Navan next time, but the combination of a drop back in trip on soft ground and hanging to her left didn’t help matters, so it’s probably best to treat that modest effort as a blip. Drawn out in the cheap seats at the Co Meath venue for her most recent outing, the four-year-old ended up forfeiting a considerable amount of ground after totally blowing the start (got upset in the stalls), but to her great credit she did manage to make huge inroads to the leaders when all seemed lost, so it turned out to be a better effort than at first glance. Given how strong she’s been in the latter part of her races, today’s step up to seven furlongs should see her in a better light and, in a contest which contains many exposed and disappointing types, she appears to have a gilt-edged opportunity to regain the winning thread.