Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has six tips for today's action.
TASHKHAN (best price 11-2) ran a good deal better than his final finishing position suggested in the King George VII Handicap at Royal Ascot last time out and now returning to the scene of his previous impressive victory, Brian Ellison’s gelding receives a strong vote of confidence to bounce back to his best.
Promising on his first start since leaving his Irish base, the son of Born To Sea was well backed to go one place better at the Merseyside venue and he duly obliged when staying on extremely powerfully in the latter stages of a well-run 1m2f handicap. Back up in trip at the Royal meeting, he held every chance as the field swung for home in one of the most competitive three-year-old handicaps of the week, but pinned down on the inside rail, it took him too much time in the short home straight to gather up a head of steam and by the time he did, it was all too late. He did, however, hit the line really strongly to give out positive vibes for the future and with today’s extra yardage and four-furlong home run much more to his liking, this strong-galloping and progressive stayer looks sure to take a hand in the final outcome.
AURIA (best price 11-2) couldn’t quite lay a glove on two fillies who maintained an unrelenting gallop at Newbury last time out, but her performance represented a step in the right direction, certainly based on the figures, and Andrew Balding’s filly – who probably has more natural ability than her rating suggests – can go well over a track and trip that will suit.
The way she stayed on over a stiff mile at Ascot on her seasonal bow, you could see why connections were keen to try the daughter of Muhaarar over further and although her run at the Berkshire venue couldn’t be classed as a failure, it probably pointed towards her being more effective over shorter distances. Another key component to today’s race is the ground, as being related to Beat The Bank, she may improve for some ease under foot and with most of the opposition this afternoon having questions to ask, she ticks more boxes than most
MIDNIGHT LEGACY (best price 16-1) and SOTO SIZZLER (best price 12-1) fought out the finish of a competitive handicap at Epsom on Derby Day and while it would be stretching the imagination to suggest the same scenario will unfold, at the same time it would be disappointing if at least one of the pair weren’t vying for top honours.
Sadly for connections, the former didn’t really take to hurdles during the winter, but since returning to the Flat, he’s pretty much carried on where he left off last season. Runner-up to the smart Opera Gift at Salisbury, Alan King’s colt went to the Surrey venue last time with high hopes of being competitive in a valuable Class 2 handicap and as it turned out, he came through his toughest task to date with flying colours. Seeing the trip out really well, he proved too strong for his nine rivals in a strongly-run affair and it’s also worth noting he managed to run the final half a mile of the race in an identical time to Derby winner Adayar. Full deserving of his hike in the ratings, he will clearly have to
improve again, but racing over a track where his form figures are pretty healthy, there’s every chance he will rise to the occasion.
The latter did really well in the circumstances to finish as close as he did behind his old rival a month ago and there’s a fair argument to be made that had he began the race on terms, he may have come out on top. Either way, it’s certainly not for the first time, David Menusier’s gelding has run well in a strongly-run 1m4f handicap and proving he jumps out of the gates on terms this afternoon, he can also make his presence felt under ideal conditions.
IMERIUM BLUE (best price 8-1) clocked a big speed figure for the grade at Redcar last time out and with connections now seemingly realising that the son of Lethal Force needs a flat track over the minimum trip to be seen at his best, he rates a fair each-way proposition at the morning odds.
Disappointing when failing to see out six furlongs on several occasions since leaving Jamie Osbourne, the three-year-old grey has turned in some pretty smart performances either side of those setbacks and his latest victory at the Yorkshire track highlights just how good he can be with conditions to suit. Held up towards the rear while the front running Jacattack blazed the trail, Nigel Tinkler’s gelding began to make his move heading towards the final furlong and then once in top gear, he found enough for pressure to fend off International Girl once in front. Considering how strongly run the race was 14 days ago, it came as no surprise to see the time figure was so high and with plenty of soft ground form to call upon should conditions change dramatically through the day, there’s no reason why he can’t go well again.
APRIL’S MOON (best price 5-1) was unlucky to bump into a mare right on top of her game at Clonmel last time out, but her performance still has to go down as a career high in defeat and she’s strongly fancied to put up another bold show in her bid to finally get off the mark.
Having tried and failed over a variety of trips, mainly through trying to make the running, the daughter of Morozov was given more time to find her feet over two miles at the Powerstown Park venue last time and although she still didn’t manage to get head in front, it was by some way her best effort. Indeed, looking at her final circuit sectionals from 22 days ago and the numbers reveal she ran by some way the fastest during that portion of the race and it’s also worth pointing out that she, along with the winner, pulled well clear of the rest. Having performed so well under those new tactics, hopefully connections will allow her a similar role and with plenty of solid form in the bag over today’s distance on all kinds of ground, she shouldn’t be too effected by any change in conditions. All in all, she represents a solid each-way bet.