Andy Holding has four tips for Monday's racing, including a NAP at Hereford.
BALLYBEGG (best price 11-4) paid in a major way for locking horns with Minella Drama at Bangor last time out, but as the winner is by some way the best novice hurdler in the North, he should find today’s opposition more realistic and can be backed accordingly.
Having for first run for new connections following a 295-day break, Kerry Lee’s inmate was seemingly going just as well as his main market rival coming out of the back straight at the North Wales venue, but no sooner had they turned for home, the exertions of trying to keep up with novice who was knocking out some seriously good fractions toll its toll. Indeed, not only has the winner gone on to score in some style since, the third home, The Grey Falco, has also obliged subsequently, and with the likelihood of him being a much more potent threat with that all-important run under his belt an over an extra half a mile, the son of Mahler can provide his local handler with a much-needed winner.
SHANTY ALLEY (best price 7-2) won with any amount in hand at Uttoxeter last time out and if ridden with the same aggressive nature to the approach shown at the Midland venue, Ben Case’s gelding has a decent chance to take the slight rise in class in his stride.
Popping away in front and clearly enjoying his new role right from the start 24 days ago, the son of Shantou soon built up a useful advantage that was never under any major threat and so much was his superiority, he could afford to be eased down in the closing stages. Despite the significant de-acceleration on the run-in, the seven-year-old still posted a smart speed figure for the grade and safe with the knowledge that if he’s handled bad ground and three miles at Uttoxeter to good effect, he should have no trouble with the examination presented here this afternoon.
Given the way Bear Ghylls dismantled the opposition at Exeter yesterday, SONG OF THE HUNTER’s (NAP) (best price 10-3) connections will be patting themselves on the back for avoiding a clash with a potential Graded performer at the West Country venue and their decision to wait a day and come here instead, should reap maximum dividends based on what might have happened here 25 days ago.
Well-backed to get off the mark at the first time of asking over hurdles following a good effort in a hot Wincanton bumper, Gail Haywood’s gelding duly obliged by jumping well and just about making all the running in a well-contest maiden hurdle at Taunton. Returning to action over today’s C&D last time following a 275-day break, the son of Network looked to be going sweetly in the lead when stepping at the second from home and falling, but at least the performance up to that point strongly suggested he remains one to keep on side. Despite his background suggesting he may require further than the minimum trip, he clearly isn’t devoid of pace and providing he’s suffered no ill effects from that tumble, he’s very much likely to have a huge say in the final outcome.
PAULA’S PRAYER (best price 7-1) has yet to cut much ice on the Flat, but she has improved out of all recognition over hurdles recently and she may be worth chancing in the hope she can bring some of that new-found confidence to the table back on the level.
Going close to getting off the mark at Downpatrick back in August, Conor O’Dwyer’s mare didn’t have to wait too long to finally have her day in the sun when she scored with a degree of comfort at Sligo two starts later. Clearly buoyed by that breakthrough success, the daughter of Pour Moi looked as though she was about to strike again on her latest outing at Limerick until finding the useful Moonlight Glory too strong late on, but given the winner has gone in again since and the pair were well clear, it’s a performance that strongly suggests she remains in excellent shape. Rated 101 over hurdles after that effort and now off 35 today taking into account the pilot’s claim, it would be a shade disappointing if she couldn’t operate to a fair standard at this sort of level.