Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has seven tips for today's action.
A cracking three-year-old handicap to start proceedings and of the 12 due to go to post, TARAASHOQ (best price 8-1) and KING FRANKEL (best price 6-1) appear the types to do well in a race of this nature.
The former has yet to taste handicap company so far to date, but he has run in two extremely well-run maiden events, so he should have enough knowledge tucked away to override his inexperience. A creditable fifth to the top-class prospect Baaeed at Leicester, William Haggas’ made light work of his latest assignment at Nottingham and off the back of those two performances, he appears to have done quite well to have been handed a mark of just 86. Shaping as though a step up in trip would suit on each occasion, the son of Maxios has enough natural ability to be involved providing he handles the track.
The latter is already well adverse of the race requirements having taken in some of the better middle distance handicaps so far this season and other than one poor run at Newmarket last time out, he’s acquitted himself with distinction each time. With fast ground to blame for his latest demise, some ease in the conditions will come as a welcome relief and having finished placed on his two previous outings at today’s track, another big run looks on the cards from Mark Johnston’s colt.
Unlike his namesake, FRANZ CLAMMER’s (best price 7-2) career trajectory is very much on the up and following another scintillating performance over today’s C&D last time out, it’s hard to find ways of opposing Peter Pritchard’s gelding on his return to the Midland venue.
Having been a frustrating and longstanding maiden for so long, it’s hard to explain why the son of Midnight legend has all of a sudden turned over a new leaf, other than come to the view he’s just seemingly clicked at this track. Making virtually all to record his first win in 25 starts here back in June, the nine-year-old repeated the dose on his return to the Midland venue a month later and with both sets of speed figures coming out extremely strong for the grade (ran the last circuit two seconds quicker than the 112-rated Romanor who won over two miles), even another rise in the ratings might be enough to prevent him from completing the hat trick.
FAROUT (best price 11-4) may appear to be the Willie Mullins’ second strong based on jockey bookings and the early morning prices, but that assumption could turn out to be all wrong as the son of Dark Angel easily looks the most talented of the pair on recent evidence.
While his stable companion was looking far from straightforward in defeat at Tipperary when last seen 70 days ago, the four-year-old grey scored with consummate ease at Cork a week earlier and in doing so, he ending up posting an eye-wateringly good set of numbers. Not only was the pace strong enough to produce a very fast time figure, his final circuit sectionals were by far and away the best
on the card and considering he was heavily eased down in the closing stages, his performance deserved to be upgraded even further. The way he travelled and quickened at the Mallow track strongly suggested he is a young horse of some potential and it would come as no surprise to see him fulfil those thoughts here this afternoon with a clear round.
On pure talent alone, there’s nothing who can lay a glove on TWILIGHT CALLS (NAP) (best price 9-4) in this concluding five-furlong contest, it’s just a case of whether the ground has dried out sufficiently enough for him to show the brilliance he displayed at Newmarket last time out (times suggested the nearside rail on the straight course yesterday was much quicker than the round track).
Having been brushed aside by the progressive Imperial Yellow when doing too much too soon at Leicester earlier in the campaign, connections decided to drop the son of Twilight Son back to the minimum trip at HQ two months later and as it turned out, that judgement call prove spot on. Tracking the pace set over towards the far side rail, Henry Candy’s gelding could be spotted going extremely well approaching the final furlong and then with a huge burst of speed, he quickened smartly to lead close home to end up winning with a little more in hand than the official margin suggested. Looking at his performance based on the clock, not only was his overall figure very good for the grade, his closing sectional of 32.3 was the fastest of any horse at the three-day fixture, strongly indicating that this improving sprinter has the potential to get towards pattern level. How long that viewpoint takes him only time will tell, but either way, he remains a sprinter worth keeping on side for the near future and he’s just too good to let go even though there’s a slight concern conditions may be far from ideal (his sire did have plenty of winning form on good-to-soft).
A race where all the so-called big guns of the training ranks haven’t it all their own way over the years and this season’s renewal could see that theme repeated as SOLE PRETENDER (best price 12-1) bids to land this valuable prize for local trainer Norman Lee.
To say the seven-year-old is a stable star is something of an understatement as he’s taken his connections to places they probably barely believed possible if you turn the clock back several years. On a roll through the late part of the 2018/19 season, the son of Gold Well was aimed at this contest on just his third start in handicap company and although he came up a little short of the day, to finish a close-up fifth off top weight could hardly been viewed as a disaster. Lightly raced since due to an injury that kept him off the track for over a year, he’s looked as good as ever, and to prove the point, he ran an absolute screamer in last season’s Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival, only giving way in the final half a mile when his stamina ran out. Warming up nicely for a tilt at this prize when landing the Grade 3 Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary a month ago, connections will be delighted the assessor has kept him on a mark of 150 and on the evidence of that display, this classy performer should give his supporters a grand spin with the excellent Mikey O’Connor in the plate.
M C MULDOON (best price 2-1) has been desperately unlucky on his last two starts under both codes and he’s strongly fancied to make amends over a trip that should really play into his strengths.
A big fancy to land a novice event at the Punchestown Festival, Willie Mullins’ gelding found himself trapped away in a pocket rounding the home bend and by the time he’d fought his way out into the clear, stable mate El Barra had skipped over the horizon and he ended up having to settle for an honourable third. Well-backed to capture the Ascot Stakes on his latest start, the six-year-old grey once again fell victim of a poor track position in a race that became a dash for the line and even though he was charging home in the closing stages, he couldn’t quite reel back Reshoun, who had obtained first run. Shaped as though he would appreciate a stiffer test on each occasion, today’s 2m4f journey with stiff pull to the line from two out should really suit, so despite being up against seven last time out winners, he still makes plenty of appeal.