Horse racing expert Andy Holding has three tips for today's racing, including a NAP at Kelso.
KILLER CLOWN (best price 5-1) produced a career-high effort when landing an ultra-competitive novices’ handicap at Kempton when last seen and with connections pinning all their hopes on coming here rather than having a crack at something at the Cheltenham Festival, Emma Lavelle’s gelding can justify that steadfastness on this more suitable, flat, left-handed track.
A lightly-raced maiden over hurdles, the son of Getaway has had his attentions switched to fences this term and following several promising efforts, he finally realised his full potential at the Sunbury venue on Boxing Day. In what turned out to be a well-run affair, the seven-year-old impressed with his pin-point accurate jumping over the 2m4f journey and despite a series of fine leaps carrying him to the head of affairs a long way from home, he still had enough stamina and quality to keep on strongly all the way to the line. Looking at his final lap sectionals that day, they reveal he was far superior compared to the likes of Grade 1 winners Shan Blue and Frodon and with several well beaten in behind him also going on to advertise the strength of the form, even a shot across the bows by the handicapper may not be enough to stop him. Paul Nicholls has such a terrific record in this contest over the years that it would be folly to leave Grand Sancy out of calculations and as the betting suggest, he looks the main threat back on his favoured good ground.
The wellbeing of THANK YOU NEXT (best price 11-2) has to be taken on trust after a 148-day break, but there’s little doubt she brings the best two-year-old form to the party, so she’s worth a small interest to see whether her class can pull her through.
One of the most active of today’s field as a juvenile, Richard Hannon’s filly got better as the season progressed and she wound up running in three pattern events such was her level of improvement. Undone by soft ground in a Group 3 at Goodwood behind Isabella Giles in August, the daughter of No Nay Never went on to produce a career high performance when fifth of 11 in the race won by New Mandate at Doncaster a month later and with the time figure and subsequent performances of the winner and those beaten that day all strongly suggesting it was a quality two-year-old affair, her effort against the low-draw track bias had to be hugely commended. Despite conditions being far from ideal on her final start of the campaign at Newmarket, she still had the attitude and quality to finish ahead of several, smart fillies when chasing home Saffron Beach and with the booking of Ryan Moore seen as a signal of intent, hopefully this likeable filly can carry on where she left of last year.
TORN AND FRAYED (NAP) (best price 7-2) ran out a clear-cut winner of a competitive handicap at Hereford last week and with the numbers from that race stacking up favourably enough to suggest it was a fair one of its kind, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ gelding rates a strong choice to continue his progression.
Cutting a bit of a frustrating figure prior to arriving at the Midland track with a whole host of placed efforts next to his name, the son of Califet was ridden just off the pace set by Electron Bleu with a view to pouncing late and when the front runner capitulated at the second last, from that point onwards he strode clear in pretty majestic fashion. Indeed, looking at his backend sectionals compared to the rest of runners on the hurdles course that day, it’s little wonder his nine opponents had no chance of keeping tabs on him, and if ridden in a similar fashion here this afternoon, he’ll have bright prospects of being extremely competitive in this better race.