Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has five tips for today's meetings including a NAP at Sandown.
KING OF CLUBS (NAP) (best price 15-8) is a three-year-old very much going in the right direction based on his last two performances and having been handed what appears to be a favourable mark on his handicap debut, Hughie Morrison’s colt can follow up his recent success at Nottingham.
A narrow-margin runner-up to the smart Sir Rumi (won since) on his first visit to Colwick Park, the son of Intello was heavily backed to make amends when returning to the same C&D a month later and after travelling well throughout, he showed way too much class for his ten rivals by pulling five lengths clear in the latter stages. Clocking a useful time, connections may have been thinking of targets such as the Britannia Handicap at the Royal meeting next week, but as he’d have been unlikely to get into that top-class handicap off a rating of 85, the option of coming here for easier pickings should turn out to be more than ample compensation for a horse who shapes like today’s stiff track will suit.
SKYRUNNER (best price 5-1) has really impressed with the style of his two victories so far this season and representing a yard who are always feared in handicaps of this nature on the Knavesmire, William Haggas’ colt is fancied to complete his hat trick.
Staying on well to score over seven-furlongs on his seasonal debut, the progressive colt was surprisingly dropped back to the minimum trip on his most recent encounter at Pontefract but, as it turned out, the stiff nature of the track and relatively modest opposition meant he just had no more than a mandatory workout. That said, he still posted very numbers at the Yorkshire venue without being unduly troubled and with that stroll in the park 15 days likely to have put a nice edge on his preparations for today’s stiffer test, he should be primed to let rip over a track that seems sure to play into his strengths.
CLAIM THE STARS (best price 11-4) shaped nicely in an above-average novice event at Ayr on his debut (strong speed figure) and with the distinct likelihood of a big step forward forthcoming, Mark Johnston’s colt can go the same way as several of his stable’s juveniles in recent days.
Quietly-fancied to make an impact at the Scottish track 10 days ago, the son of Starspangledbanner raced up with the healthy pace set by Red Power through the early exchanges and then as the tempo increased significantly inside the final three furlongs, he just got a little tapped for toe. That said, he did keep on extremely well the closing stages despite running as green at the Hulk and of the first four home in a tight finish, he was the one that left the impression he would improve the most next time. A big, rangy colt typical of his trainer, this long-striding juvenile should be well suited by the demands of the Knavesmire and he’s strongly fancied to get off the mark at the second time of asking.
TIGER TEN (best price 7-1) was unfortunate to bump into the well-handicapped East Asia on his latest outing at Goodwood, but it was another solid effort from this likeable and consistent three-year-old and he’s worth a small each-way interest dropping back to trip and ground that are likely to prove ideal.
Only once out of the first three in his last seven starts, Joe Tuite’s gelding seemed to going as well as anything as the field joined the main track proper at the Sussex venue last time, but just as it looked as though he may land his second career victory, along came Ian Williams’ in-form stayer to do him for a turn of foot inside the final furlong. Indeed, the winner ended up running the last three furlongs in a pretty rapid time for the race type and, as he has gone on to boost the form since, it puts into context the task the son of Born To Sea faced 22 days ago. Likely to run his race more than most based on his overall profile, the four-year-old rates fair each-way option to the favourite around the 7-1 mark.
LORD LUKER (best price 10-3) created a favourable impression in a useful maiden at Leopardstown on debut and with expected improvement sure to be forthcoming, Ken Condon’s gelding has to represent one of the most interesting runners in the field and should be backed accordingly.
Slow away and towards the rear early, the son of Footstepsinthesand had to be administered with a reminder just get him to try and engage his mind as the field swung for home at the Dublin venue, but that gentle encouragement certainly did the trick as he stayed on eye-catching down the outside to finish a never-nearer fifth. Time figure-wise, the race 29 days ago was a pretty one of its kind and with the form already beginning to take shape with the likes of Eberneezer Perry, Privilege, Bipartisanship and Maralinga all flying the flag for the well-run contest since, it’s clear he ran to a pretty high standard for a horse allowed to go off at 66-1. Likely to have learnt plenty from that initial experience, one would hope he at least breaks a little more alertly this time around, and if so, on pure ability alone, he should be good enough to make some sort of impact in a race of this nature.