Andy Holding is back with four tips from today's action, including a NAP at Huntingdon.
GRANDEUR D’AME (NAP) (best price 9/4) plain and simply got bogged down in the mud at Lingfield and if you are prepared to judge him on his previous display in a red-hot novices’ handicap at Chepstow, then he has to be seen as the one to beat on that line of form in this much weaker affair.
Sent off favourite in what looked a competitive affair at the Surrey venue, it soon became apparent the seven-year-old was struggling to gain any sort of traction and in a race where the pace was unrelenting from start to finish, his pilot was wise to give up the unequal struggle from three out.
Allowed to coast home from that juncture, hopefully he shouldn’t have suffered too many lasting scars from that potentially bruising encounter and with connections obviously keen to explore a surface that allows him to be far more competitive, it’s no great surprise to see them head to today’s Cambridgeshire track – where the conditions are never too bad.
Only beaten seven lengths on chase debut by a horse who is now rated 136, a huge drop in class and a lack of quality opposition should see the son of Desir D’Un Soir very hard to beat.
GAELIC PARK (best price 13/8) clearly bumped into a progressive type in the shape of Deere Mark at Hereford last time out but, given that he pushed Sam Thomas’ subsequent Kempton scorer hard all the way to the line, there’s more than a fair chance he can atone for that narrow-margin defeat over a trip that should see him in an even better light.
Not having the basic speed to cope with the very talented Strong Leader in an above-average contest at Aintree back in December, the son of Ocovango fared much better with a stronger influence on stamina at the Midland venue later in the same month and it’s that form line allied to the strong time figure which him such a compelling proposition here today.
HIGHER KINGDOM (best price 7/1) never got a chance to show his true worth over today’s C&D last time out, but providing he comes out on terms this time around, John McConnell’s gelding has bright prospects of getting back on the winning trail.
A little bit of Jekyll and Hyde character when it comes to breaking from the gates, the son of Kingman lurched to his right as the stalls flew open here 21 days ago and, as a result, he was always fighting a losing battle in a race where he could ill afford to give away ground. That said, he did manage to recover quite a bit of the lost deficit in the latter stages and considering he achieved this feat without being unduly punished, you’d have to say he would have been a massive player if things had panned out more favourably.
A very easy winner over a mile the time before when for once getting a clean getaway, the six-year-old will be a big threat to all if he duplicates a similar exit on his return to the Co Lough venue.
Donald Llewelyn was always likely to be a warm order with bookmakers and punters alike following his eye-catching display at Kempton last time out, but he might not get entirely all his own way up against STRANGER THINGS (best price 10/3), who threatens to really come to the party now stepping up in trip.
Since returning from a break, Matt Crawley’s mare has yet to be involved in the finish in four starts, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t shaped without promise. Too far back to do any damage over a mile here three starts ago, the daughter of Mukhdram has been noted doing some sterling late work on both her two starts over 1m2f, but even so, that distance has still looked on the short side given the way she has finished off her races.
At Chelmsford on her latest encounter, she did really well to finish as close as she did considering how the race panned out and, with the form of the race boosted by both the winner and third since, it would come as a bit of a surprise if five-year-old doesn’t go close to breaking her maiden tag with man-of-the-moment, Billy Loughnane, on board.