Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has four tips for today's racing from Listowel and Fairyhouse.
Trainer Joseph O’Brien won this prize with Gold Seal for JP McManus three years ago and since then, it’s clear the Owning Hill handler has targeted certain horses in a repeat bid for one of his main patrons (placed with Cerebus and Top Moon) and in the shape of FLYING SCOTSMAN (best price 15-12 and PERSIA (best price 11-2), he looks to have a pretty strong hand in this season’s renewal.
The former rates the pick of pair according to jockey bookings and the betting and that assessment looks about right based on his overall profile. A winner of a maiden hurdle at Navan back in June, the son on Galileo failed to shone as expected when favourite for a competitive handicap at the Galway Festival, but he bounced back immediately with a notable success at Ballinrobe next time. Clocking a decent speed figure at the Mayo venue, the four-year-old jumped a lot better than he did a month previously and if he can maintain his level of progression with his technique, he should turn out to be a potent force in races of today’s standard.
The latter has needed some assistance to help him along the way, but since fitted with the blinkers and tongue-tie combination, the son of Galileo has shown a fair degree of improvement. Indeed, if he hadn’t have made a telling mistake in a listed race at the second last at Galway last time, he probably would have been the one to chase home impressive winner Annie G and considering only he finished only a neck behind today’s race favourite, Dark Voyager, despite than untimely error, it made little sense to see why he would be trading at double the price of Willie Mullins’ inmate once the bookmakers opened their lists.
The one thing a horse needs to do around this sharp track is to travel well and, given that SOCIALLY DISTANT (best price 11-1) doesn’t fail to score high points in that department, Paul Nolan’s mare is fancied to go well in a race where her overall levels of form are as good as anything in the line-up.
A winner of a competitive mares’ hurdle at Wexford back in March, the daughter Mahler hasn’t managed to get her head in front in four starts since, but even so, her third in a one of the big mares’ races at the Punchestown Festival has to go down as a career high effort and a repeat of something close to that form is likely to see her go very close here today. Not quite good enough for the now 133-rated Pure Bliss at the Co Kildare venue, she did, however, manage to finish ahead of many who brought solid form to the party and considering that was only her third outing over hurdles, her performance deserved extra praise. Too keen for her own good after racing out on the wing for majority of the two-mile journey the Galway Festival next time, the six-year-old mare was back to something close to her best at Bellestown last time out and with the race presumably the target ever since, conditions over today’s trip look ideal for her to perform to maximum capacity.
MARKIEVICZ (best price 9-1) came out significantly best of those draw low in a big-field sprint handicap at Naas last time out and having been handed a potentially much better stall position here
this afternoon, Sheila Lavery’s filly represents a nice bit of each-way value in what appears a wide-open affair.
On a day when it paid to race hard up against the stands’ side rail at the Co Kildare venue, it was clear from a very early stage on the card that anything housed in a low stall was at a significant disadvantage, so the mere fact that the daughter of Dandy Man managed to finish third from box three is testimony to her performance levels 29 days ago. Although it’s difficult to pick a figure, length-wise, on how much ground she gave away, it’s safe to assume that she has a better than three times the chance according the layers of turning the form around with Ciara’s Approach (who was drawn in stall 21 that day and has now got 14 this afternoon) and with the assessor also giving her more than a sporting opportunity to do so, dropping her an extra 2lb in the ratings, she makes plenty of sense from an each-way perspective.