Horse racing expert Andy Holding has four tips for today's meetings at Fairyhouse and Wetherby.
Sizing Pottsie has been making hay over fences of late, his performance here last time out highlighting his rapid improvement, but whether he will be quite so effective as his morning odds suggest back over hurdles is open to question and in any case, he may have a job on his hands coping with the potentially top-class PERCY WARNER (NAP) (best price 6-4).
A point winner in October, Gordon Elliott’s gelding was well-touted prior to his opening gambit at the Co Meath venue and having travelled well throughout, he dished out the knockout blow to his main market rival, Flanking Maneuver on the climb to the line. Clocking a very fast speed figure for a race of its nature, the son of Ocovango also exhibited a smart turn of foot for a horse who stays three miles and with the pair miles clear of the rest, it looked strong form. Indeed, the runner-up has already gone on to endorse the race in question next time out and with his main market rival today likely to set a decent pace from the start, hopefully the five-year-old can stalk him before pouncing late on.
Éclair D’Ainay made a big impression when winning tidily on chase debut at Chepstow last time out, but at the same time, he looks painfully short in the context of today’s much tougher assignment and he’s readily passed over in favour of THE KING OF MAY (best price 11-2) and ERAGONE (best price 10-1), who bring solid C&D form to the party courtesy of their exploits in the Castleford Chase last time.
The former impressed with the way he breezed into the business end here 16 days before finding the rallying First Flow just too strong late on, but that effort still has to go down as an encouraging one in a race much tougher than the one he faces today. Back down at a more realistic level, therefore, Brian Ellison’s gelding must surely have excellent prospects of nudging his head back in front.
The latter rather picked up the pieces in many respects, but it still has to go down as a fair return given he was pulled up on his first start for new connections at Carlisle previously. A real mud-lover in his native France, today’s conditions over this sort of trip seem ideal and he looks way overpriced if, as expected, he runs to a similar level on his return to the Yorkshire venue.
JULIES STOWAWAY (best price 13-8) easily brings the best form to the table both from bumpers and over hurdles and he’s strongly fancied to get off the mark in this new discipline at the third time of asking.
A creditable seventh in last season’s Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, Mags Mullins’ gelding was alarmingly very easy to back on his hurdling debut at Galway back in October and as it turned out, the jungle drums got in right as he looked badly in need of the run. Well-supported next time with that all-important run under his belt, the son of Stowaway tried to make all the running in a keenly-contest heat at Punchestown but in the end he had play second fiddle to the equally smart Blue Lord who just nailed him on the line. That said, the time figure was very good, suggesting it was an above-average maiden, and with the winner thought good enough to take on Grade 1 company in tomorrow’s Lawlors Of Naas Novice Hurdle, hopefully the seven-year-old will provide Willie Mullins’ inmate with the boost he needs prior to his big test in 24 hours’ time.