Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has six tips for today's action, including a NAP at Goodwood.
TRUESHAN’s (NAP) (best price 9-4) bid for Ascot Gold Cup glory was scuppered by unsuitable fast ground, but with the rain finally arriving just in time for Alan King’s gelding this time around, he’s fancied to confirm form with old rival Stradivarius.
The last time the pair met was in the Quipco Stayers contest on Champions Day back in October and on testing ground, the son of Planteur proved what a good horse he is when conditions are in his favour. Staying on powerfully in the latter stages, he scored by a wide margin and in doing so, he also posted a very fast time figure. A creditable runner-up to the top-class Japan over an inadequate trip on his first start of the campaign, the Northumberland Plate became his latest assignment due his enforced absence at the Royal meeting and although he failed to meet the requirements of that task on the all-weather, it was still a fair effort all the same under a welter burden. At least that performance at Newcastle served the purpose of keeping his levels of fitness at a decent standard and now returning to his optimum conditions, the five-year-old rates a strong choice to prove he’s a genuine top-class stayer.
NJORD (best price 11-2) was narrowly pipped in the two biggest handicaps run at the meeting here last season and with Jessica Harrington’s gelding arguably arriving here in even better form, the top-weight is fancied to go one place better for his in-form stable.
Runner-up to the fast-finishing Saltonstall in this mile event twelve months ago, the son of Roderic O’Connor was a warm order to make amends on the final day of the fixture over a furlong shorter but unfortunately a poor start rather put him on the back foot and try as he might, he could never quite recover. As least he finally got his day in the sun when winning the big mile handicap on Champions Day at Ascot in October and that victory was a reminder of what he can do when conditions are in his favour. Twice a strong finisher behind the likes of top-class pair, Kinross and Order Of Australia over seven furlongs on his latest starts, the five-year-old is clearly running better than ever and providing he can break on terms and get himself into a reasonable early position, there’s every chance he will add to his track stats of 43122.
Dermot Weld made a bright start to day one with a winner and several who ran well in defeat and the master of Rosewell looks to have a decent chance of keeping the ball rolling with BASEMAN (best price 9-4) in this competitive three-year-old handicap.
A poor start seriously compromised his chances of getting off the mark on his first outing of the season at Gowran so connections decided on a switch of headgear in order to change his outlook at Limerick for his latest venture. Breaking more alertly at the Greenmount Park track, the son of Kingman was able to keep in touch with the main players and then once straightening up for home, he found a nice turn of foot down the outside of the track to come through and score in authoritative fashion. Not only did he clock the fastest time figure on the seven-race card, he also posted the quickest final three-furlong splits and with connections no doubt having this meeting on their minds for him ever since, hopefully that change of gear he possesses will prove the determining factor in the latter stages.
Winners from stalls 16, 14 and 12 here last night suggested a good break from the gates is just as important than a low draw, but there’s no getting away from the claims of both DIVINE CELT (best price 9-1) and ADAPT TO DAN (best price 15-2), so it’s just up to the pair to hit the gates cleanly and obtain a good early position from their inside pitches.
The former hasn’t quite managed to build on her silky-smooth victory at Sligo a month ago, but in fairness to Jarlath Fahey, she’s been drawn right on the outside in her last two starts and because she’s been unable to get much cover out on the wing both times, her propensity to race a little exuberantly has cost her dear in the final analysis. The way she’s travelled each time has also strongly suggested she’s worth a drop back in trip and if she can get the all-important early cover around the inside, she should be a major player of the gaps open up for her on the climb to the line.
The latter jumped out the gates well before going on to victory at Bellewstown two starts ago and was all the rage to follow suit at Cork a week later, but unfortunately Denis Hogan’s gelding didn’t read the script. Trapped in behind a wall of horses turning for home, the son of Dandy Man had to sit and suffer and wait for a gap to appear for virtually the entire length of the straight and by the time he did extricate himself from the pocket, the dye had cast. He did, however, finish off his race in the style of a horse who had plenty more to offer off his new mark and if he can get the timing right coming out of the stalls this time around, another big effort looks on the cards.
PILLAR OF STEEL (best price 2-1) arrives her right on top of her game with two convincing successes and with one of those victories coming over tonight’s C&D, the hat trick looks very much on the cards for John Spearing’s mare.
From out of nowhere seemingly, the daughter of Shirocco produced a career-high performance when landing a competitive handicap on her first visit to the Midland venue and she proved that win was no fluke by following up at Uttoxeter a month later. Given plenty of time to find her stride 13 days ago, the six-year-old came through very strongly in the latter stages and for the grade, she ended up clocking quite a smart time. A mare clearly on the upgrade, a repeat of either display should be good enough to secure another success.