Three winners at short prices last week here in the Sunday column. This week the action on Racing TV comes from Downpatrick, featuring the Randox Ulster National Handicap Chase, and Leopardstown, where three Classic trials take centre stage.
I have four selections to consider.
1.40 Downpatrick: Smooth Player
This Gordon Elliott-trained gelding seems to be gradually getting his act together and can get off the mark here. He put up a career-best effort when second over 2m at Navan last time and the step up to 2m5f will not inconvenience him. He will also be helped by having the assistance of crack 5lb conditional jockey Michael O'Sullivan in the saddle. Smooth Player is a strong traveller and the predicted strong pace should suit him.
2.35 Leopardstown: Hans Anderson
As a follower of figures - and carrying a firm belief that how fast a horse runs is more important than what he beats - I have to be with Hans Anderson in the 2000 Guineas trial. He produced some standout figures as a two-year-old; especially when third in a Group Two at The Curragh before finishing fifth in the Group One National Stakes at the same track. In both races he showed plenty of speed. Indeed, despite being by Frankel, he has a lot of speed on the dam’s side of his pedigree. I expect him to try to dominate this field from the front under Ryan Moore.
3.10 Leopardstown: Matilda Picotte
She was last seen in action in October, when winning the Listed Bosra Sham at Newmarket in a fast time. She provides some value here against the promising Aidan O’Brien contenders. That Newmarket win was impressive. Refitted with cheekpieces, she dominated and never looked to be in any danger. She will have to improve again overan extra furlong here, but she has a high cruising speed, handles soft ground and will be a decent price here. I’m happy to take a chance with her.
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3.45 Leopardstown: Alexandroupolis
This horse won his only start at Galway last season, where he overcame trouble in running to quicken clear of his rivals. That effort marked him out as being smart and the runner-up went on to finish a close second in the Grade One Criterium International. There is plenty of stamina in his pedigree (related to Kew Gardens) but he did not look short of speed at Galway and he can win this recognised trial for the Derby.
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