Our horse racing expert Andy Holding is back with three tips for today's racing including a NAP at Plumpton.
MARK OF GOLD (NAP) (best price 5-4) was extremely unlucky to bump into an opponent who simply flew around these tight bends here last time out and while a good deal of respect is afforded to the recent Ascot bumper runner-up, Dream In The Park, Gary Moore’s gelding is strongly fancied to put his valuable hurdling experience to good use.
A promising fifth in a useful Newbury maiden on his debut over hurdles, the son of Golden Horn was brought here last time out to further his education and as it turned out, the pace of the race 17 days ago taught him more about life in the fast lane than anticipated. The well-backed favourite Aucunrisque took no prisoners from the start and it was only the lightly-raced five-year-old who could keep within shouting distance of the trail-blazer throughout the entire two miles. Although compressively beaten in the end, he still managed to run a time figure well above average for a race of its kind and when you also consider the final circuit was an amazing 7.1 seconds quicker than the other novice hurdle won by the 122-rated World Of Dreams (narrowly beaten by subsequent Grade 2 winner Stag Horn previously), it puts into context what he was up against on the day. If there is a slight chink in his amour, his tendency to be a little keen – probably due to his days on the Flat – has been a feature of his first two performances in his new discipline, but as time goes on, hopefully, that trait will dissipate. Obviously, he faces a tough opponent here today in the shape of Dream In The Park, who chased home the very smart Our Jester in a decent bumper at Ascot last time, but it’s worth pointing out that Gary Moore trained the horse who finished just behind him that day so you’d like to think that the team at Lower Beeding would have some idea of where they stand with the favourite.
Not a bad bumper to conclude the card and its race well within the range of CLIFTON BRIDGE (best price 4-1) based on the numbers he knocked out when scoring at Exeter on his debut.
Relatively easy to back at the West Country track considering his connections, Alan King’s inmate was always travelling better than his odds suggested and when delivered with a steady challenge turning for home, he stayed on best of all to win going away. Posting a smart time figure for a race of its kind, the son of Ask clearly has a fine engine to match his frame and with the runner-up, Firestream, going on to confirm the good speed figure from 47 days ago, anything other than a positive display has to go down as a huge disappointment for all concerned.
DARK COMPANY (best price 5-2) had his pocket well and truly picked by the fast-finishing Mummy’s Boy at Wolverhampton last time out, but as the speed figure revealed he easily ran a career-high in defeat, Charlie and Mark Johnston’s gelding is fancied to gain compensation over today’s shorter trip.
A victim of being held together over trips that have stretched his stamina on quite a few occasions of late, the son of Fast Company was tried over the extended 1m1f at the Midland venue nine days ago and having swept to the front over two furlongs out, it looked like he might be good enough to record only his second career win. Unfortunately, the four-year-old wasn’t able to fend off the more patiently ridden winner, but he did manage to finish nicely clear of the recent money-spinner, Hufflepuff, so his effort in defeat has to still be commended. Additionally, both the overall time and final circuit splits suggest the race in question was extremely good for the grade and if Jason Hart can get the fractions right towards the head of affairs (doesn’t necessarily have to lead but could go on if nothing else does), his mount will have every chance of seeing off his five rivals.