Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has four tips for today's meetings, including a NAP at Salisbury.
Ilaraab, Mr Lupton and Starman all served a big reminder of how important course form on the Knavesmire can be here yesterday, so with that in mind, BRUNCH (best price 4-1) and HARTSWOOD (best price 7-1) are the two to concentrate on in this typically competitive mile handicap.
The former comes from a yard struggling for winners at present (Northern Express ran well here yesterday), but other than that slight negative, he has plenty to recommend. A model of consistency last season, his only bad run came on heavy ground on his final start of the campaign, but other than that, Michael Dods’ gelding proved a real hit in these big field handicaps, particularly at today’s track. On his first visit to the Knavesmire, the son of Harbour Watch managed to overhaul the gambled-on Jumaira Bay and then when upped a furlong a month later, he came from a long way off the pace to get the better of one of today’s main opponents, Hartswood. Coming up a little short with his brief dalliance in listed company, the four-year-old renewed his acquaintance with handicaps on his first run of the season in the Lincoln at Doncaster and in a strongly run affair, he only found the classy Haqeeqy too good. Form-wise, the race on Town Moor couldn’t have worked out any better since (Grove Ferry and River Nymph the two most significant winners) and with today’s conditions absolutely ideal, nothing other than a huge run is anticipated.
The latter is also developing into a bit of a course specialist and following an encouraging effort on his seasonal reappearance in the Thirsk Hunt Cup, Richard Fahey’s gelding should be primed to keep his stats of 312 here intact. Just touched off by his old rival here back in August, the son of Garswood had previously landed a competitive contest in typically gritty fashion and on the evidence of what we’ve seen of him over today’s galloping track, it’s easy to see why his one-pace, grinding style is so well suited to this mile circuit.
TUCSON CLOUD (best price 4-1) ran pretty well for a debutante in a maiden which everyone knows by now, carries plenty of substance (strong speed figure), and she’s fancied to take a huge step forward with that initial experience under her belt.
Sent off as one of the outsiders in a race which stable mate Noon Star was all the rage, Sir Michael Stoute’s filly never looked like proving her starting price all wrong, but at the same time, she did more than enough to suggest there were riches to be gained further down the line. Turning for home at the Yorkshire venue towards the rear, she made some nice headway to finish just behind the main players and with most of those ahead of her that day going on to prove they up to pattern level, it clearly wasn’t a bad effort by the daughter of Fastnet Rock on her first day at school. Likely to prove sharper in all department second time up, it’s just a case of whether she can handle today’s softer underfoot conditions. Providing she does, she’s likely to be there or thereabouts.
SOAPY STEVENS (NAP) (best price 13-2) was only just denied on his first start in handicap company at Doncaster a month ago, but with that sound effort very much intimating middle distances races are going to be part of his staple diet for the rest of his career, Mark Johnston’s gelding should turn out to be competitive in this and many other similar events.
As it transpired, the front running tactics adopted on Town Moor proved to be his downfall as not for the first time, a horse trying to make all on the round track got gobbled up by the course statistics. That said, he only went down by the narrowest of margins and as the time figure proved to be pretty smart for a race of its nature, the son of Harzand is cut some slack. Racing over a course this afternoon which is more user friendly towards front runners, the three-year-old also races on a surface which saw him run well on all his three outings as a juvenile and from a sire who always imparts plenty of stamina to his offspring, a big run looks in the offing.