Horse racing expert Andy Holding has three tips for today's meetings, including a 2pt NAP at Punchestown.
BLACK TEARS (NAP) (best price 13-8) has a profile to strongly suggest she always comes good in the second half of the season and having finished a creditable runner-up in this race last season, there’s more than a fair chance she can go one place better.
Although not a prolific winner by any means, to be fair to Gordon Elliott’s mare, she’s pretty much dined at the top table for the last three seasons and her performances at some of the big festivals in the spring bare testimony to her ability and appetite for the game. Placed at the Cheltenham festival for the last two years, the daughter of Jeremy hasn’t quite hit those heady heights just yet but at the same time, both of her efforts have intimated she’s been steadily brought to the boil. Looking in need of the outing on her first run for 249-days over today’s course back in November, she proved no match for the hugely-improved Concertista at Leopardstown when last seen, but at the same time, she was far from disgraced and at least her display has given a sound foundation to work on her the second half of the campaign. Now clearly she faces no easy task against Great White Shark, who can be very good at her best, but as her main market rival arrives here on the back of a demoralising defeat in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran last time out, today might be the best time to take on Willie Mullins’ Cesarewitch winner.
CHARM OFFENSIVE (best price 13-2) just found one too good on her latest outing over today’s course, but winner aside, she beat the rest of her rivals by some margin and, as she might well improve for stepping up to three miles, Nick Alexander’s mare is worth a small each-way interest to back up that theory.
Outpaced around Hexham over two miles on her seasonal return, the daughter of Le Triton suffered a similar fate when sent back to the Northumberland track a month later, so it came as little surprise to see connections draw stumps on that project and step her up to 2m5f here last time out. Seemingly better suited by the rhythm of the longer journey, the seven-year-old stayed on in determined fashion to produce a career-best effort and it was a run which opens up plenty more options going forward. Another positive today arrives from the fact champion jockey Brian Hughes retains association with the mare and with one of the Irishman’s main attributes being how well he settles his mounts, hopefully she can be switched enough early in order for her energies to be reserved for the final half a mile.
SWOOPER (best price 10-3) blew any chance he had of following up his previous victory at Chelmsford on Saturday with a desperately slow start, but providing he can break on terms this time around, he has enough ability to make amends.
A fairly uncooperative customer based on his overall profile, Robert Cowell’s gelding has proved a little more responsive since fitted with a visor and with the headgear back on, he showed what he can do when he has his mind focused on the job at Chelmsford two starts ago. Despite taking a keen hold in the hands of today’s up-and-coming apprentice, the son of Brazen Beau exhibited a nice turn of foot to scamper well clear of his rivals and in doing so, he clocked a similar overall time and final splits than the 65-rated older horse, Passional, over the same C&D. Considering how much ground he forfeited at the Surrey venue three days ago, he did remarkably well to get within hailing distance of the main players, so based on the theory he would have probably scored again with anything like an authentic passage, the in-form three-year-old remains one to keep on side.