Horse racing expert Andy Holding has two tips for today's meetings, including a NAP at Wincanton.
DOYEN QUEEN (NAP) (best price 4-1) has caught the eye several times in above-average novice hurdles of late and following what could only be described as a ‘sighter’ here 11 days ago, there’s more than a fair chance Paul Henderson’s mare will be seen in a much better light now racing in a handicap against a more realistic set of opponents.
A former point winner in Ireland, the daughter of Doyen was unsurprisingly in need the experience on her first outing under rules over today’s C&D back in January, but learning plenty from that initial outing, she performed a good deal better in a stronger race at Chepstow next time. In what turned out to be a well-run run affair at the Welsh track, the seven-year-old made some decent late headway from the back of the field to finish a never-nearer fifth of the 11-strong field and with the winner, Grumpy Charley, and fourth, Real Stone (unlucky at Catterick yesterday), both going on to boost the form since, her effort deserves even extra praise. Not totally un-backed when shipping up at the West Country venue for her latest encounter, she got the sort of ride that very much suggested she was been brought along nicely with another day in mind and having been given a more than workable opening mark of 100, hopefully today will see her try colours come to the fore.
The jumper’s bumpers put on during the cold snap really served the industry well and they’ve also proved to be a rich source of winners for further down the line with many of the participants doing really well when going back on the turf next time. The best meeting collectively was the one which took place at Kempton on February 11 and with horses such as Torn And Frayed, Belargus and Bailarico all winning next time, it all bodes well for the chances of BELLVARDE EXPRESS (best price 14-1) today, considering she was involved in the fastest race on the nine-race card.
Helping to set the early fractions with Episode at the Sunbury venue, Jeremy Scott’s mare picked up the pace and carried it forward all the way down to the final two furlongs, from which point she couldn’t quite go with the front pair who showed a smarter turn of foot. That said, she kept on strongly all the way to the line to finish a creditable third and with her own figure and final circuit sectionals way better than the rest of the card in isolation, she clearly ran to a very high standard up against a pair who are rated 137 and 124 over hurdles respectively. A bumper winner at Doncaster last season on good ground, the daughter of Shirocco is likely to be a good deal more effective under today’s conditions than she was over today’s C&D back in December and despite being up against several rivals who have more obvious-looking claims on paper, she’s worth a small each-way interest to see whether her latest exploits have had the desired effect.