Andy Holding is back with three tips for today's action, including runners at Ffos Las and Killarney.
14:55 Ffos Las
GASTARA (best price 4/1) has still yet to register a victory in 14 starts, but there has been more promise of late, and a repeat of his most recent outing at Worcester could see Richard Hawker’s gelding finally deliver the goods.
A decent third in a competitive handicap hurdle at Chepstow two starts ago, connections decided to switch disciplines in a bid to try and capture that elusive win and on the evidence of what was witnessed at the Midland venue, it can’t be too long for the seven-year-old gains his due rewards. Noted going well throughout what turned out to be quite a well-run race for the grade, he kept on well in-game fashion to chase the winner hard all the way to the line and with the time figure backing up the view it was one a contest worth noting, his effort has to go down as a pretty useful one on his first start over fences. With the third a little unlucky not to win a similar race yesterday, the form is already beginning to take shape and with today’s flat, left-handed track similar to the one he faced 27 days ago, the son of Kayf Tara looks booked to go well with a clear round.
Winter Fog is without any doubt the one to beat on his Pertemps Final fourth, it’s a just a question of whether his hard races have begun to take effect – which certainly looked the case at Aintree last time out. On the other hand, HAPPY JACKY (best price 15/2) will certainly be fresher than most having only had one race in the last year and at the morning odds, he makes quite a bit of appeal from an each-way stance.
A three-time winner over hurdles, it’s also noticeable that Ray Hackett’s gelding has run well each time he’s run at today’s venue, including when last seen here last August. But for diving at the last hurdle and losing a bit of momentum, he may have landed a hugely competitive handicap that day and that form alone would give him solid claims back to the scene of that effort. Moreover, his latest display at Cork strongly suggested he’s in the same sort of shape and with good ground also seen as a positive, the eight-year-old has much to recommend.
DARRENS HOPE (best price 9/1) finally got her due rewards after several high-profile near misses over fences and having already proven herself in quite a few well-run chases similar to today’s, Robert Murphy’s mare probably deserves a little more respect than her position in the early morning lists afford her.
A Grade 3 winner over hurdles, the daughter of Oscar also gained black type over fences at an even higher level when runner-up to the top-class Concertista at Cork this winter and although at that point she was still winless over fences, she nonetheless went on to finish a creditable third in the ultra-competitive Leinster National at Naas. Belatedly off the mark over fences at Tipperary last time out, that victory is bound to have done her confidence the world of good and from the same mark she’s been competitive off in handicaps in the past, the eight-year-old can acquit herself with distinction.