Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has five tips for today's action.
ISTHEBAROPEN (best price 7-2) has really come into her own since undergoing a wind operation and following her breakthrough victory at Southwell last time out, the chance to repeat the dose looks a distinct possibility for this locally-trained mare.
Runner-up on her two previous starts, Gary Hanmer’s mare was well backed to finally get off the mark on her return to the Midland venue 17 days ago and after travelling well throughout, she justified the confidence in her direction by staying strongly in the latter stages. Interestingly, of the four hurdle races on the card that day, the fastest by far was achieved by the daughter of Grape Tree Road, so to come out the other side only 5lb higher in the ratings has to go down as a bit of a touch. Trained just down the road by her local handler, pretty much most of their runners at the Welsh venue have gone well in recent times and there’s no reason why this eight-year-old either arriving her in much rude health.
ESCOBAR (best price 16-1) proved that he can still mix it with the very best when a creditable fifth in the Lennox Stakes over today’s course three days ago and a repeat of a similar level of form is likely to see the veteran competitive in a race where he’s gone well in the past.
A veteran of so many big races, David O’Meara’s gelding could easily have taken his foot of the gas as time has gone on but he the way he travelled in that top-class Group 2 contest here the other day strongly suggested his appetite for the game is unflinching. Although he couldn’t quite match the likes of Kinross, Space Blues and Creative Force, that trio represent the very best horses in that category have to offer and the mere fact he was still on the bridle with them two out shows just what an engine this seven-year-old has in his locker. Placed in this race before off a similar mark, he’s also run well at the Sussex track on two subsequent starts and even though he’s likely to be languishing towards the rear early doors, expect him to creep into the contest towards the business end.
WITHOUT A FIGHT (best price 11-1) hasn’t been seen out for a little while, but he does hold quite a few of today’s rivals on several lines of form and for that reason, he looks to have been seriously underestimated in the market.
A three-time winner last season, Simon and Ed Crisford’s gelding has acquitted himself really well on both outings this term and a repeat of either performance should be good enough for a podium finish at the very least. No match for Al Aasy at Newbury first time out, when both Outbox and Euchen Glen were well behind, the son of Teofilo run up to a similar level on much softer ground at Ascot next time behind the spectacular winner Albaflora. Looking at all his best efforts, 1m4f with some ease in the ground clearly suit him best and in a race where strong cases can be made for pretty much everything in the field, his prospects seem just as watertight as many shorter than him in the betting.
ZIGGY (best price 13-2) produced a useful turn of foot for a horse of his grade when winning with a substantial amount in hand at Nottingham last time out and with today’s step up in trip threatening to bring about even more improvement, Harry Eustase’s improving gelding can take the step up in class in his stride.
Unlucky to miss out the time before at Lingfield when challenging on the wrong side of the track, the son of Sixties Icon was once again well backed to deliver the goods at the Midland venue two weeks later and this time he made no mistake. Travelling up to the leaders going best two out, he found a ready turn of foot in the closing stages and even a six-length success didn’t project his true dominance over his eight opponents. Quite how far he can go only time will tell, but it’s clear he’s a young stayer of some potential and the more rain that falls today the better his chance becomes.
EVERLASTINPROMISE (best price 6-1) couldn’t quite keep tabs on Capuccimix in the closing stages at Killarney last time out, but with the feature of that keenly-contest handicap chase being the strong time figure, Enda Bolger’s gelding should have the tactical speed in order for him to be a massive factor over this longer trip.
Lightly raced in recent times, the seven-year-old went into his most recent encounter at the Co Kerry venue with just run under his belt in twelve months, so to run as well as he did has to go down as a fairly respectable return. With the winner running the final circuit fully seven seconds quicker than the other chase races on the same card, it’s easy to see why the son of Arcadio found life difficult living with Henry De Bromhead’s winner in the final half a mile, but in turn, he did manage to finish well clear of the rest which probably suggests he ran somewhere near to a career high level. Back over a trip more suitable and with mark Walsh choosing him over the other five JP McManus-owner runners, the seven-year-old should give a good account.