Horse racing expert Andy Holding has seven tips for today's meetings.
MUSKATEER ONE (best price 11-1) shaped with a good deal of promise on her debut at Kempton just over a week ago and she might just be able to put that valuable experience to good use and make a bigger impact second time around.
Squeezed for room coming out of the gates at the Sunbury venue, the daughter of Charm Spirit found herself with a mountain to climb as the field hurtled through the first half of the race, but it was encouraging to see her pick up the thread in the latter stages to finish a never-nearer sixth of the 10-strong field at the line. Time figure-wise, the race in question has been one of the best juvenile contest run so far this Flat season and with the distinct possibility of more to come with that initial outing under her belt, it would be slightly disappointing if she didn’t follow a similar path to stable mate Muskateer Three, and improve significantly from run one to run two.
A nasty one for punters to start the day, but there’s a decent chance those who support EDWARDSTONE (best price 8-1) and SOLWARA ONE (best price 12-1) will get a fair run for their money.
The former ran about as well as could be expected in the hugely-competitive County Hurdle last time out, but once again, he left the distinct impression he’s not Cheltenham’s biggest fan. Better served by flat tracks, this previous C&D winner also shaped like he wants further than the minimum trip nowadays and he’s fancied to put both theories to the test on ground that should prove ideal.
The latter is the most unexposed member of today’s field and he looks well worth a punt to see whether he has the sufficient class to cut it in a big-field handicap. Neil Mulholland’s gelding certainly found a 16-strong field and a decent pace to his liking when scoring with the minimum fuss at Doncaster back in January and after just getting nutted by the useful Martinhal at Exeter next time, he found himself with the winner’s garland around his neck again courtesy of a stroll around Huntingdon last time out. A big unit with a high cruising speed, this chasing type could easily do some damage here off a reasonable opening handicap mark of 134.
One of the lasting memories of the Grand National two years ago was how well LIVELOVELAUGH (best price 7-1) jumped and travelled for the thick end of three and a half miles and with connections coming to the obvious conclusive it’s pointless having another crack at the great race due to his suspect stamina over that trip, he makes plenty of appeal in the one lap contest on his return to the Liverpool-based circuit.
Still to win in ten attempts since that day back in 2019, Willie Mullins’ inmate, however, has run plenty of fine races in defeat and his latest two efforts in big-field handicaps on home soil at Leopardstown strongly suggest he’s running right up to his best. Third in a viciously competitive 2m5f handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival, the 11-year-old backed that up with another solid display at the Co Dublin venue a month later and it’s only been the stiff uphill finish that’s done for him on both occasions. Back on a flat track on good ground, this bold-jumping, strong-travelling son of Beneficial should give his supporters a lovely spin.
Another 11-year-old with a shed-load of talent with experience of these fences is MODUS (best price 16-1) and it’s just a case with him of whether he’s in the mood. Despite his foibles, he’s still managed to win 30% of his races and it was only three runs ago that he finished a very honourable sixth of 22 in the Galway Plate. A winner on his very next start over today’s Mildmay course, Paul Nicholls’ gelding showed his had the stomach for these formidable fences when third in the Grand Sefton back in November and if it wasn’t for the filthy conditions that day which made it a proper test at the trip, he may have won. Looking at his career CV, it’s worth noting he has a record of 11821361113 when off the track for a significant period of time and with the yard doing really well at this meeting already with horses who have been saved specifically to come here fresh, the mercurial son of Motivator can be ridden with a view to creep his way into contention at the business end.
Bravemansgame looks the real headline act here following his excellent run behind two exceptional novices at Cheltenham and while strictly on form he should take all the beating, GALLYHILL (best price 8-1) might be the one to capitalise just in case the favourite fails to shine. Arriving in this country with a big reputation following an impressive point win in Ireland, Nicky Henderson’s gelding was, therefore, a little visually underwhelming when making a successful hurdling debut when long odds-on at Newbury back in January. However, the time figure of the race suggested he’d run a good deal better than at first feared and he was well-backed to confirm that opinion against much stiffer opposition at Ascot next time. Unfortunately, in what turned out to be a small-field, tactical affair at the Berkshire track, the son of Getaway didn’t get the run of race and he ended up having to play second fiddle to the more experienced Midnight River, but he did come away from that race leaving the impression he was the nicest long-term prospect. Wisely skipping Cheltenham to come here as fresh as possible, the six-year-old will hopefully prove equal to today’s task in a race where his stable has a fine record over the years (won it with Beat That, Santini and Champ).
Paul Nicholls made a terrific start to the three-day fixture yesterday and he could round off day two in the best possible fashion with TOMORROW MYSTERY (NAP) (best price 7-1) seemingly holding strong-looking claims.
Eye-catchingly good both in visual terms and on the numbers first time out at Newbury, the daughter of Nathaniel looked a good thing on paper when asked to race again a week later at Taunton but unfortunately she ended up bouncing to the moon and failed to run anywhere near the same level. Back after a long break and wind op, the seven-year-old used a jumper’s bumper at Kempton in February as a stepping-stone to full fitness and in what turned out to be a strongly-run affair (best on the eight-race card), she managed to come up trumps, quickening right away in the closing stages. Clearly a much better horse when fresh, she has been kept specifically for today’s contest with a view to Lorcan Williams to ride (rode her at Newbury) and with the flat, left-handed track and good ground the key to her prospects, she rates one of the best bets on the card.