After the hectic festive racing programme it is back to some sense of normality this weekend, with some good racing in Britain and Ireland, including a Gordon Elliott-trained runner that may be able to restore a fractured reputation on Sunday.
Commander Of Fleet – 1.50 Naas (Sun) – to win @ 10/1
A point-to-point and impressive bumper winner last season, Commander Of Fleet came into this term with a decent reputation. He made no mistake on his debut over timber, winning at Punchestown over 2m4½f in good style in November.
That ensured he was popular in the betting last month for the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse despite dropping back to two miles, but the speed test proved elusive there and he finished last of four runners.
Aramon – third that day – was an impressive Grade One winner himself in the Future Champions at Leopardstown last week and it could be this return to a longer trip sees Commander Of Fleet bouncing quickly back.
Elliott also saddles Battleoverdoyen, unbeaten but perhaps an easy winner of a weak maiden hurdle last time, and so the key threat to the selection likely comes from the Willie Mullins-trained Tornado Flyer.
He made a winning start over timber at Punchestown but must improve in this company and, at the prices, the preference is for Commander Of Fleet.
Yusra – 5.45 Kempton (Sat) – to win @ 7/2
Luke Morris guided the filly to her first win at the fifth attempt when he took over first time at Chelmsford just the other side of Christmas.
It was a good ride and the daughter of Invincible Spirit had plenty in hand as they crossed the winning line. She looks open to further progress and remains unexposed.
Despite the presence of four previous C&D scorers in this field, Marco Botti’s filly is fancied to take another step forward and double her tally.
Straight Right – 2.15 Lingfield (Sat) – to win @ 7/4
Andrew Balding’s French import can build on his solid all-weather record here, with his stats currently showing 5-8 on the artificial surfaces.
He landed a Listed contest in his native land before coming to Britain and might have gone very close with more luck in the same class at Kempton when last spotted in November.
Oisin Murphy found himself short of room when it mattered and the chance was lost. He could be deemed an unlucky fifth at the line, having made progress once clear.
He’s entitled to prove a tough nut to crack in this conditions contest, with in-form rider Rob Hornby sure to be giving him a confident spin around Lingfield.
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