Andy Holding is back with four tips from today's action.
13:40 Gowran Park
HANDS OF GOLD (best price 5/1) hasn’t been seen with a meaningful chance of winning up to now but, having shown more than a modicum of ability in each start, there’s a fair possibility today’s (weaker) kind of race might see him in a better light.
Hugely promising on his opening bow at Down Royal, Arthur Moore’s gelding unfortunately got no further than the fourth at Thurles next time, but he dusted himself down to go on and run a much better race than the bare result suggested at Limerick last time out.
Racing out into the country with only one behind him at the Greenmount Park venue 31 days ago, the son of Shantou was still a fair way behind coming out of the back straight, but it was from that point he started to do plenty of sterling work and by the time he’d hit the line, he managed to work himself into a position of respectability.
Even allowing for the fact he finished 29 lengths behind the winner, the numbers he posted were easily his best so far to date and with today’s contest seemingly nowhere the level he encountered last time, the lightly-raced five-year-old can provide his canny handler a welcome winner.
TIGER CRUSADE (best price 11/4) clocked a big speed figure when scoring with plenty up his sleeve over today’s C&D last time out and providing he can manage to run somewhere near the same level on his return visit, there’s a decent chance he will supplement those gains.
A talented if somewhat frustrating character in recent times, David Simcock’s gelding had failed to receive the rub of the green in many six furlong handicaps throughout the Winter, but stepping up in trip and racing at the Colwick Park track for the first time, everything seemed to just click into place.
Firstly, the son of No Nay Never was able to race a little closer to the pace than is normally the case and secondly, he found a smart turn of foot to readily pull clear of his rivals at the business end. Seemingly scoring with more in hand than the official margin suggests, the six-year-old has a decent draw from which to operate on his return visit and providing he jumps clean and is in touch as the field turn for home, there’s no reason why he won’t be vying for top honours once again.
14:50 Gowran Park
A typically wide-open contest of this sought-after prize, and one of the most interesting runners in the line-up, ESPANITO BELLO (best price 8/1), is given the vote to keep up his trainer’s excellent record during the current campaign.
There’s no denying Barry Connell’s inmate has rather lost his way since unluckily throwing away a Grade 2 contest at Navan almost two years ago, but on the evidence of his last two performances over hurdles, he seems to be heading back in the right direction.
Shaping as though he badly needed the run after a 293-day break at Galway when last seen, the fact that he arrives here today without another run suggests connections have had a big race in mind for him ever since and with the son of Turgeon having shown plenty of stamina and a love for heavy ground in the past, hope is high he can make up for lost time.
WALKING ON CLOUDS (NAP) (best price 2/1) has a pretty enviable record of late when racing over six-furlongs on the all-weather surfaces and with two of those impressive victories coming over today’s C&D, Grant Tuer’s gelding can continue his fine Winter.
The son of Gale Force ten began his upturn in fortunes when a creditable second on his first run for new connections and following one run when he failed to shine due to a slow start, he’s been pretty much bang on the money since.
A tidy winner of his first start at today’s track, the four-year-old followed up in equally decisive fashion on his return visit and it was only the trip that seemingly prevented him from completed the hat trick a month later.
Back to Newcastle last time, and he made pretty light work of seeing off the well-supported, in-form Shalaa Asker and with his speed figure coming out as his best so far to date, it’s safe to say he remains on an upward curve. Better drawn than his main market rival today, Alafdhal, he also has the advantage of valuable course experience and with those two factors combined to make him a better betting proposition at the morning odds, he deserves to be play accordingly.