Andy Holding has five selections for today's action.
TACTICAL MANOEUVERE (best price 3-1) shaped with plenty more encouragement in a quite a hot little race for the grade here last time out and with that performance likely to have served the purpose of getting him somewhere near fever pitch, Jeremy Scott’s gelding looks primed to repeat the success in this race last season.
Arriving at the West Country venue following a win at Exeter previously twelve months ago, the 10-year-old was well-backed to repeat the dose back at his happy hunting ground and despite the persistent challenge of Neetside all the way down the straight, he kept on gamely to land the punt. Another C&D ensued a month later but that victory meant he went up to a career high mark and taking on slightly better opposition has just found him out in recent times. However, he showed a good deal of sparkle against ostensibly faster horses 24 days ago, but with nothing as progressive as the likes of Chinwag and Zhiguli in today’s field, another golden opportunity arises with the excellent Luca Morgan booked to do the steering.
LIGHTLY SQUEEZE (best price 11-2) arguably represents the best form line brought forward to this valuable prize courtesy of his sound effort behind Not So Sleepy in the Betfair Exchange Handicap over today’s course last time out and with the potential of an even more improvement to come now upped in trip, Harry Fry’s gelding makes perfect sense as a solid each-way play – especially with some firms offering favourable (4th) placed terms.
Progressive last season, racking up a three-timer in a short space of time, a couple of slightly below-par performances since the resumption led to connections sending him under the knife and based on his run at the Berkshire venue 35 days ago, they will be happy with the end product. Although he didn’t quite have enough required on the day to reel in the strong front-running winner, he kept on stoically for third and with big gaps back to a high-quality field in behind, the son of Poet’s Voice probably ran close to a career high. Very strong at the finish when trying today’s 2m3f journey for the first time at Taunton last season, the seven-year-old has a lot of positive vibes pulsing through his veins.
CLYNE (best price 7-1) maybe the veteran of the party at the ripe old age of 11, but on the evidence of his last two starts, he’s not set to draw his pension just yet and he can show the younger brigade a thing or two around a track that has served him well in the past.
No match for a quality Grade 3 handicap over the C&D back in November, Evan Williams’ gelding had his sights lowered on his return visit a month later and after travelling nicely and looking the winner throughout, he only just succumbed to the battling qualities and fresher legs of Queenofhearts in the closing stages. A faller when over-jumping and falling at the third last in another hot Class 2 affair at Chepstow last time out, he was once again showing signs of running another big race for a horse of his vintage and with most of his best performances in the past coming at today’s venue on heavy ground, conditions are ripe for the old boy to roll back the years.
WAITING PATIENTLY (best price 11-4) clearly isn’t the easiest of horses to train, hence only 14 starts in his career, but when he does turn up, he by and large runs to an incredibly high standard and following another stellar effort in the King George Chase last time out, Ruth Jefferson’s gelding looks poised to give ample reward for connections’ bold policy to supplement him at the final declaration stage.
Yet to finish out of the money in all completed starts, the son of Flemensfirth has a body of work that encompasses the minimum trip to three miles and while he proved that he stays the latter distance well at the Sunbury venue on Boxing Day, he’s better known for his performances in and around the two-mile mark. Winner of the 2018 Ascot Chase over 2m5f, he hasn’t won since, but his sterling display in the Tingle Creek at Sandown suggests he retains all of his ability and a reproduction of a similar level of form over a track and ground conditions he enjoys, should see the 10-year-old go close to giving him another big payday.
The bumper won by Might I at Warwick a month ago was noted for its strong pace and having shaped nicely to finish a very creditable fifth, DRASH ON RUBY (best price 3-1) has the basic foundation to move forward and be a good deal more competitive against her own sex.
The only mare in the line-up at the Midland venue, Jeremey Scott’s inmate faced a stiff task up against many stronger fancied sorts from powerful stables, but she ended up casting aside the potentially overwhelming situation with a performance that can only be described as very eye-catching. Noted making smooth headway from the back of the field to race on the coat tails of the leaders rounding the home turn, the daughter of Passing Glance just didn’t have the necessary qualities to go with the main players in the final half a mile, but at the same time, she did keep on well to offer plenty of hope for the future. Already, the race in question 44 days ago has begun to take shape with the runner-up, Fine Casting, paying a handsome complement to the form at Newbury this week, and with her ability to handle a well-run affair on soft ground proven, she should have the necessary equipment ready for today’s battle.