Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has three tips for today's meetings, including a NAP at Newbury.
GIN PALACE (NAP) (best price 15-8) has been acquitting himself with a reasonable amount of credit in races much tougher than the one he faces this afternoon and now back at a track where he’s enjoyed a fair amount of success in the past, Eve Johnson Houghton’s gelding is taken to dominate throughout.
A dual scorer this last season, the son of Swiss Spirit has rather struggled in his bid to regain the winning thread since, but in mitigation, he has been taking part in some pretty salty handicaps. For instance, his first run of the season came in the Spring Cup over today’s C&D when he finished a respectable eighth behind the likes of Nugget and Danyah (Oh This IS Us ninth) and it’s not as if he’s been cut too much slack with his two subsequent efforts. His latest performance was also pretty meritorious, finishing a close-up fourth in the Whitsun Cup at Sandown, and with the overall speed figure and closing sectionals indicating that contest was the best furlong-per-furlong race on the card, his display strongly hints he’s coming to the boil. 2-3 over today’s C&D and likely to make the running if nothing else wants to lead, the five-year-old shouldn’t have too many fears from his four rivals he faces and he should be backed accordingly.
VALPARAISO (best price 5-1) ran well enough last time out at Newmarket considering the soft ground didn’t really suit and now back on a sounder surface, Marcus Tregoning’s rates the main threat the recent Windsor scorer, Zikany.
Off the mark straight away following a gelding operation, his victory over Soapy Stevens at Doncaster back in April was noted for its strong time figure, so it’s come as no surprise to see the form work out particularly well (runner-up won twice since). Sent to HQ last time out and up in grade, the Sir Percy gelding struggled at a vital stage to cope with the soft underfoot conditions, but he did impress with the way he stayed on strongly in the final two furlongs once meeting the rising ground. Back on a left-handed, galloping flat track on genuine good ground, the lightly-raced and unexposed three-year-old should reward solid each-way support.
MARALINGA (best price 28-1) shaped better than his finishing position suggested a warm maiden over today’s C&D last time out and this lightly-raced three-year-old looks to have been seriously underestimated in the market.
Unsuited by soft ground the time before at Gowran, it was easy to see why Timothy Doyle’s colt was sent off a 200-1 chance in a contest where several of the main players had extremely promising profiles, but despite a high draw and a modest track position turning for home, he ended up running way beyond expectations. In keeping on well from two out, the son of Footstepinthesand finished on the coat tails of horses rated towards the 100 bracket and with the third home, Privilege, going on to score since, the form looks very solid. Given a mark of 73 for handicap debut and hailing from yard who enjoying a fine run of results at present (the winners and two seconds in the last fortnight), odds around the 25-1 seem way too big considering all the list of positives in his direction.