Andy Holding has five tips for Monday's racing, including a NAP in the 15:15 at Fairyhouse.
It’s been a pretty barren winter for Jessica Harrington by her high standards, but there have been signs in the last few days, things are beginning to turn the corner for the Co Kildare handler and in the shape of LYNWOOD GOLD (NAP) (best price 7-2), she has another fine prospect of adding to her tally at this meeting.
Very useful on the Flat, the son of Mastercraftsman is just as handy over hurdles and the combination of better ground and today’s track should play into his strengths. Warming up for a tilt at this prize thanks to an eye-catching effort in a warm affair at Punchestown recently, he should come on for the run being as it was his first competitive action since finishing an unlucky eighth in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket and even though his price could have been a little better, he still makes plenty of appeal.
There’s no denying the impressive Mostahdaf created on debut at Newcastle, but the same can also be said for IMPERIAL SANDS (best price 4-1) and at the morning prices, Archie Watson’s gelding gains the vote.
Well-touted prior to making his debut a month ago, the son of Footstepsinthesand clearly knew his job as he was soon quickly into his stride and at the head of affairs. Keeping up the gallop all the way to the line, the classy-looking colt turned away his eight rivals with quite a bit to spare and the time figure he ended up posting indicated he was well above average. In today’s small field, one would imagine Holly Doyle will have the instructions to go and inflict as much damage she can early and with his experience of handling today’s surface and seeing out the trip all the way to the line under his belt, hopefully that knowledge might turn out to be the determining factor.
Three big Grand Nationals in the space of as many weeks and with the greatest respect to the original version, today’s Irish equivalent is by far and away the classiest of the trio. Not since Our Duke landed this prize of top weight in 2017 have we had a novice of the quality of Latest Exhibition in the line-up and being as Paul Nolan’s gelding has been the only one fit enough to lace Monkfish’s boots this season, a big run looks on the cards if he stays the trip. Espanito Bella, although not as established as the market leader, is another from the same category who could easily make his mark and if you go back and see the sort of damage he inflicted to the likes of Coko Beach and Longhouse Poet in a fast time at Naas back in December, it’s easy to see why connections fancy their chances of glory.
Away from the obvious, a light campaign is another important factor in these gruelling contests and the two that fit the bill arriving here without too much baggage in the build-up are AGUSTA GOLD (best price 11-1) and BRACE YOURSELF (best price 18-1).
The former has been an admiral campaigner for many years for Mags Mullins and it’s only recently that she’s joined new connections with a view to perhaps taking her game to an even higher level.
Not that she hasn’t been plying her trade to a decent standard in the past as series of fine performances in victory and defeat against the very best mares in the last two seasons testify. Predominantly known for her exploits over 2m4f, the daughter of Gold Well, however, proved that she stays today’s trip when a gallant runner-up in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown last year and on much less demanding ground, she will have even brighter prospects of keeping going for longer. Given a spin over hurdles as her final prep, the eight-year-old has yet to finish out of the first four in a 20-race career and with plenty of solid form at today’s track to call on, there’s every reason to suggest she will be a big player with a clear round.
The latter also arrives her fresh having not run since chasing home easy winner Court Maid over today’s C&D back in November. Due to have one more race in between, Noel Meade’s gelding unfortunately had to miss out courtesy of a slight setback, but he at least had a good workout in a racecourse gallop at Navan the other day to blow away the cobwebs. A good jumper and strong traveller with Graded form over fences in the bank, the son of Mahler will appreciate today’s better ground than most and he can also play a hand with any amount of luck in running.
VALDIEU (best price 9-2) hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations of his younger days, but he still retains a touch of class and his run at Leopardstown last time strongly suggests he should turn out to be a big player in a race of this nature.
Bogged down on heavy ground at Wexford earlier in the campaign, Noel Meade’s gelding didn’t reappear until 133-days later and having travelled well in a what turned out to be a strongly-run affair at the Dublin track, he kept on nicely to finish just behind the useful pair, Mitchouka and Livelovelaugh. Placed on all three starts at today’s venue in the past, the son of Diamond Boy has ground to suit and the way he stayed on in his latest encounter, the step up to three miles could turn out to be an inspired move.