Andy Holding has three tips for Sunday's racing, including a 2pt NAP in the 14:20 at Punchestown.
It’s fair to say Gordon Elliott has had better runs in December and January than he has done this season, but the green shoots of recovery have been apparent in the last few days with winners at Dundalk on Friday and yesterday at Fairyhouse, so confidence is a little higher for MAGIC TRICKS (best price 11-4) in this Grade 2 than it was earlier in the week.
Looking in need of the run when only fourth in a bumper here back in October, connections decided to embark on a hurdling campaign straight away and their keenness to crack on with his career reaped immediate rewards at Navan two months later. Facing a decent-looking field at the Co Meath venue, the son of Davidoff always looked in control of the situation and after jumping pretty in the main, he readily pilled clear to record a useful time figure without turning a hair. Of those well beaten that day, the runner-up, third, fifth and seventh have all run well enough in useful novice events since to provide the form some substance and with the distinct prospect of even more to come – particularly in better and classier races – the five-year-old is fancied to prove that theory correct.
EXIT TO THE WEST (NAP) (best price 7-4) has produced some pretty healthy results since scoring in a point-to-point almost a year ago and with Robert Tyner’s mare arriving here seemingly right on top of her game thanks to another victory over fences at Cork, she’s fancied to keep the ball rolling despite reverting back to the smaller obstacles.
Runner-up in two chase races at Gowran and Tramore – latterly when she should have won – the daughter of Westerner soon made up for those agonising defeats with a performance of some comfort 15 days ago. Always travelling sweetly at the Co Mallow venue, the even money favourite made those skinny odds actually appear quite generous and she would look something of a good thing if connections decided to keep her in that discipline to exploit what still appears a favourable mark of 116. Instead, they have opted to play their joker by switching her back to hurdles off a 12lb lower mark and having won just as easily when last seen in this environment at Listowel back in September, the strong-travelling seven-year-old should easily be capable of doing some damage while in the rudest of health.
ATLANTIC SHORE (best price 4-1), other than one modest effort at Gowran three starts ago, has produced a fair level of form since switching to chasing and despite him creeping up the ratings for finishing second twice on the bounce, the son of Mahler has the qualities to shrug aside top weight with the aid of the excellent Ewan O’Brien in the plate.
A winner on his second outing over fences at Wexford, Philip Fenton’s gelding has been well-backed to add to that tally on his last two starts but despite doing precious little wrong on each occasion, he’s just come up a bit short. First of all, he had the misfortune to bump into the well-treated Arvene over today’s C&D earlier in December and then secondly, he was on the wrong side of Treacysenniscorthy bouncing back to life at Cork a month later. That latest effort in particular was even more noteworthy due to the very fast speed figure produced by the winner, so all the indications suggest the eight-year-old would just have to duplicate a similar level of form to be competitive yet again.