Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has three tips for today's meetings.
Every winner is like gold dust for Harry Skelton in his bid to be champion jockey and there’s a decent chance AMBASSADOR (best price 2-1) will provide another nail in the coffin of Brian Hughes.
Lightly raced on the Flat for Richard Fahey, the four-year-old gelding has developed into quite a useful juvenile hurdler and his victory at Hereford last time out was a significant breakthrough in terms of his overall progression. Too keen on his first two starts over hurdles, the son of Invincible Spirit gave himself more chance of seeing out the trip by settling better at the Midland venue and that allowed him to be much stronger at the business end and get the job done. Recording a fast time for the grade 27 days ago, it’s been good to see the race work out accordingly with the likes of Pawpaw and State Crown win since and arriving here off what appears a favoured mark of 116, he has enough quality to take advantage in his first handicap.
The two potentially well handicapped four-year-olds, Valyrian Steel and Group One Power are likely to leave their current marks well behind as the season progresses – particularly the latter – but in SOTO SIZZLER (best price 2-1), they both face a horse who has vital experience of today’s C&D so on that basis, David Menuisier’s gelding just gains the slight vote.
Winner of this race in 2019, the son of Mastercraftsman duly followed up two months later when landing a similarly competitive handicap on Derby Day with a bit to spare but since that then, he’s clearly had his issues. Not seen out for 555 days when making a comeback for new connections on the all-weather at Kempton a month ago, the six-year-old shaped better than his finishing position suggested in a strongly-run affair behind several improving four-year-olds and it was a run that strongly suggested that there were brighter days ahead. In line with how his stable was performing at the time compared to now, there’s every reason to expect an improved display in terms of his fitness levels, and with William Buick seen as a big positive for his chances here this afternoon, he has every chance of getting his hands back on the trophy.
SAMARITAINE (best price 3-1) shaped a good deal better than the bare result suggested at Leopardstown nine days ago and with an extra furlong likely to suit, a clearer run this time around should result in her playing a more prominent role.
Promising on a couple of starts for Marcus Tregoning last season, the daughter of Mukhadram looked badly in need of the run of her first start for new connections at Dundalk back in January, keeping on well to finish on the coat tails of the main players over seven furlongs. Stepped up in trip and racing in her first handicap at the Dublin venue after a 58-day break, the chestnut filly was coming with what appeared a potent challenge just in behind the pace at the two-furlong pole only to get the door well and truly slammed in her face. Finishing the race off hard on the bridle, she would have surely been involved in the final outcome with a clear run and with a chance to race
against similar company off the same mark, she rates a confident vote to prove she’s quite well treated at present.