Our horse racing expert Andy Holding is back with four tips for today's racing.
OUR JESTER (best price 11-4) created a favourable impression when landing a bumper at Ascot with a bit to spare last time out and even though there are no guarantees he will be able to translate the same level of form to an all-weather surface, he’s still taken to overcome any such worries.
Runner-up in two above-average contests at Newbury and Ludlow respectively last season, Hughie Morrison’s gelding was all the rage when returning to the fray after a 213-day break at the Berkshire venue and as it turned out, the money in his direction was well and truly justified. Always travelling well throughout, the son of Garswood eased into the lead heading through the wings of two out and from that point onwards, he steadily drew clear of his toiling rivals. Clocking a decent time figure in the process, the scopey six-year-old accounted for many who have already boosted the form with aplomb since (third and sixth have both won maiden hurdles, while the runner-up and fourth have finished runner-up in similar events) and being the type who will continue to improve and iron out the cracks as time progresses, he can take this step up in grade in his stride.
Of the rest, Irish raider SO SCOTTISH (best price 11-2) rates the biggest threat based on his effort behind the extremely talented Facile Vega at Leopardstown on his rules debut (runner-up scored nicely at Navan yesterday) and he’s worth a small saver just in case the wheels come off the main selection. Although Emmet Mullins’ gelding could make little impression on the front pair inside the final half a mile, the numbers from that race at the Dublin venue suggest he was up against several performers right out of the top drawer in that sphere, and with his canny connections never too far away when sending one over for a decent pot, a big run is anticipated.
BALLYSHANNON ROSE (best price 9-2) was coming out on the wrong side of the battle with Vanillier when departing the scene at the last at Punchestown on her most recent start, but it would have been still a fair effort if she had stayed on her feet and now heading back to the scene that witnessed her put up a tremendous display on his chasing debut earlier in the campaign, Pat Fahy’s mare deserves far more respect in the market than her morning odds afford her.
A money-spinner over hurdles last season, scoring four times on the bounce between November and January, the daughter of Doyen, however, was always likely to make a better chaser given her size and so its proved. A really slick round of jumping saw her dispose of a useful field first time off the bat here back in October and if it wasn’t for that late demise at the Co Meath venue 70 days ago, she would have gained some valuable black type in a Grade 2. Having defied a break of 221-days on her seasonal bow, she clearly goes well fresh, so despite her not running since November, expect the substantially-built nine-year-old to come out all guns blazing.
BARRICHELLO (best price 4-1) arrives here following the ignominy of being beaten at 1-5 at Bangor last time out, but due to a huge amount of ground-loss early on, he’s much better than what the bare result shows and he’s fancied to put that aberration to one side and prove just what a useful novice hurdler he really is.
Impressive in both his two previous novice hurdle wins, including at listed level at Haydock, it seemed as though Donald Mccain’s gelding just had to turn up at the North Wales venue 44 days ago, but unfortunately, he proceeded to do a pirouette as the tapes flicked back and, as a result, he forfeited the thick end of 20 lengths to his main market rivals. Although he eventually made up the lost deficit, the energy he expended caught up with him in the final half a mile and he ended finishing just out of the frame. Seemingly a different horse since wind surgery, his two previous victories were both very good on the clock and in a race where there doesn’t appear to be a huge amount of early pace, it would come as no surprise if the son of Gentlewave were to dominate from the front.