Horse racing expert Andy Holding has four selections for Wednesday racing, including a NAP at Gowran.
CUBAN CIGAR (best price 10-3) has been in a rich vein of form for the last five months now and with his victory at Kempton last time suggesting he shows no sign of stopping soon, Richard Hannon’s gelding is fancied to keep up the good work.
Frustratingly runner-up on three separate occasions during the winter period, the son of Havana Gold was a strong choice in the market to end that unwanted run on his latest outing at the Sunbury venue and having travelled nicely throughout a race run at a decent tempo, he came through at the business end to score with a bit to spare. Although that victory came over seven furlongs, he has shown he stays today’s trip well enough in the past and having also run to a fair level on his three previous visits to this afternoon’s venue, hope is high he can continue the winning theme.
SHALAA ASKER (best price 12-1) gave himself little chance of succeeding first time out at Chelmsford by pulling way too hard for his own good in the early stages, but hopefully with the combination of that initial run under his belt and the hood on for the first time will pacify him enough for him to show his true worth here this afternoon.
Useful at a two-year-old, his only poor run in five starts came when he was asked to race over six furlongs on soft ground at Redcar, a combination which was always likely to stretch this genuine speedball. Either side, Adrian Keatley’s gelding was fairly consistent in victory and defeat and his best effort came on his last run as a juvenile at York when he finished a creditable runner-up in a competitive five-furlong nursery. Once again, the way he tanked his way through that well-run contest at the Knavesmire strongly suggested he’s going to be at his best over the minimum trip in the short term and with that run from 20 days hopefully having the desired effect in terms of fitness and getting the fizz out of his system, today’s looks a decent opportunity for the talented son of Shalaa to realise his potential.
16:00 Gowran Park
CHICAGO BLACK HAWK (NAP) (best price 11-8) ran with plenty of promise in two extremely strong maidens as a two-year-old and providing he carries forward a similar level of form into his second season, Johnny Murtagh’s colt should be up for winning a race of this nature before going onto better things.
Not quite streetwise enough to see the job out all the way to the line over a stiff mile on soft ground first time out at the Curragh, he still ran to a fair standard behind a horse who is sure to be plying his trade at Group 1 level during this season. Back at the Co Kildare track for his next venture a month later, the son of Night Of Thunder found himself in an uncompromising position at halfway in a race that was run at a fair clip, but to his great credit he managed to make inroads in the latter stages up against a horse who subsequently went on to score at Group 1 level, so his performance has to go down as a very commendable one on just his second career start.
Obviously there are certain risks attached playing a horse first time out in the early throws of the season when they are probably not quite fully tuned up, but in the case of this fella, you’d like to think he will have enough class to pull through. Either way, he’s one worth keeping on side whatever the outcome and it would be great to see him make the perfect beginning for a stable who have made a reasonable, if not spectacular start to the campaign.
17:30 Gowran Park
ZEGOS SURPRISE (best price 9-4) was a shock winner to many at Navan first time out based on her previous form figures, but her trainer wasn’t surprised in the slightest, and as the speed figure backed up the standard she achieved at the Co Kildare venue, she’s worth keeping on side over a trip that should play even more into her strengths.
Disappointing in three outings on the all-weather at Dundalk, it was surprising, therefore, to see the weight of money coming for the daughter of Zebedee 10 days ago, but as it turned out, those who took part in the plunge certainly knew what they were doing as she ran out quite an impressive winner of a competitive three-year-old handicap. Dwelling coming out of the stalls, the three-year-old filly found herself with plenty to do at halfway, but a with a strong burst towards the backend of the well-run contest, she quickly assumed command to pull readily clear on the run up hill to the line. Going on strongly at the finish, she left the impression she might do even better over further than the minimum trip and with her numbers also strongly suggesting she is way better than her current rating based on what she achieved compared to the older sprinters on the same card, it would be slightly disappointing if she back up that viewpoint in this modest-looking affair.