Our horse racing expert Andy Holding is back with five tips for today's racing, including a NAP at Wetherby.
Symbol Of Light was always going to be a popular choice in the market given his connections and overall profile, but whether he deserves to be quite as short in the betting compared to KING OF YORK (best price 11-2) is open to question and at the prices, Scott Dixon’s gelding rates the better option of the pair in the with and without favourite markets.
Despite being winless in seven starts, the son of Kingman has a pretty consistent record on a variety of surfaces but there’s no doubt his best effort so far to date came over today’s newly-laid track last time out. In what appeared a very hot race for the grade, the three-year-old has little trouble holding his position against a tempo that was pretty strong from the start and although he buckled slightly under pressure late on, it was certainly no disgrace to get gunned down by the very progressive Imperial Mountain. Nicely clear of the rest which included several who held strong form lines coming into the race, King Of York easily usurped his previous career high and with the numbers from that race backing up the overall quality on display, he should give the favourite something to think about at the very least.
14:05 Gowran Park
Klassical Dream has quickly developed into one of the leading lights in the staying division and following his defeat of Flooring Porter at Leopardstown last time out, it’s easy to see why he’s been chalked up at prohibitive odds to repeat the dose. However, the ground here today is likely to be such a gluepot that even the best horses will not enjoy the conditions, so with that mind, a chance is taken on mudlark ROYAL KAHALA (best price 5-1) causing a bit of shock over a trip that threatens to bring about even further improvement from a mare going places in a rush.
A high class novice last season, her only below-par effort came at the Cheltenham Festival when ground conditions were far from ideal, but following a run to blow away the cobwebs at Punchestown, she bounced back to her very best on an easier terrain at Leopardstown last time out. In what turned out to be a well-run affair thanks to the exploits of Heaven Help Us, Peter Fahey’s mare stayed on best of all from the last to eventually wear down her prey and it’s worth pointing out that she had the likes of Tellmesomethinggirl and Dysart Diamond beaten off in third and sixth respectively. As far as it goes, that form represents easily the best mares’ contest of the season so far and although today’s task in trying to beat a genuine top-class three-miler at his own game will probably require her to run another career high, as she’s proven many times before, a proper test on soft ground is what she’s all about.
BUSTER VALENTINE (NAP) (best price 3-1) just came out second best of a dust-up with Schiehallian Munro over the final mile of a competitive handicap over today’s C&D last time out, but it was nice return to form by Mark Walford’s gelding and a repeat of something similar should give him a decent chance of going one place better on his return visit.
A game winner over 2m5f at Market Rasen back in 2019, a good deal of water had passed under the bridge until we saw him again 716-days later, and understandably, he badly needed the run, pulling up after two out when running out of steam. 50 days on, and the son of Ask was back in the fray again and in what looked an extremely competitive affair on paper beforehand, he bounced back to something close to his best. Always to the fore at the Yorkshire venue, the nine-year-old jumped to the front at the fourth last and although he couldn’t quite see off the persistent challenge of the eventual winner from two out, he kept on bravely all the way to the line to finish a creditable second. Nicely clear of the rest, it’s worth pointing out that the race in question not only produced a smart overall time figure, but the final circuit was a whopping 13.7 seconds faster than the Rowland Meyrick won by Good Time Bobby (almost a fence different), so based on that knowledge, he should easily be capable of holding his own looking at the strength of today’s opposition. Mr Whipped, who finished just behind Buster Valentine in the same race here a month ago, looks the obvious danger.
15:05 Gowran Park
BRAESIDE (best price 13-2) has already proven he has the stomach for a race of this nature by capturing The Cork Grand National over 3m4f earlier in the campaign and following another solid effort in another big-field chase at Leopardstown last time out, Gordon Elliott’s gelding can emulate the likes of Monbeg Notorious and Coko Beach in recent times and land this prize as a lightly-raced young chaser for the Cullentra House handler.
The son of Presenting may have had only six previous starts over fences before facing the starter at the Mallow venue back in October, but his experience didn’t stand in his way as he slogged his way through the mud to score in the style of a thorough stayer. Although he ran perfectly respectably in the Paddy Power Chase a month ago, if anything, the ground at the Dublin venue meant it suited one or two of rivals better on the day, but even so, to finish a close-up fourth in a minefield of a race such as that one says plenty about his qualities. Back on a much softer terrain here this afternoon over a track that rewards accurate jumping, the eight-year-old has all the right credentials to play a major role in the final outcome and with quite a few firms settled bets down to sixth place, he makes for solid each-way fodder.