Perth Preview: Irish raider Eshtiaal tough to beat
Irish trainer Gordon Elliott has a tremendous strike-rate at Perth, and Eshtiaal can further enhance it with victory in the 2m 4f handicap hurdle there today (17.25).
The County Meath handler has been successful with 36 per cent of his raiders at the Scottish venue in the past 12 months (17 winners, 11 placed from 47 runners), and in Eshtiaal has an unexposed sort who signalled that his time was near when a cracking second last time out.
That run came at Wexford, and the five-year-old went down by just 1/2 a length in a competitive 18-runner affair after being punted off the boards into 5/4 favourite.
Eshtiaal went down fighting after making some costly errors late on and, but for those mistakes, there is little doubt in my mind that he would have landed the gamble.
It was an effort which suggested the gelding was ahead of the assessor and, although Eshtiaal now has to run off 14lb higher, this is a weaker contest and he looks the type who has plenty more to offer.
In the 2m handicap hurdle (14.50), Roskilly looks a potential improver now fitted with blinkers for the first time.
The gelding has had just three runs over hurdles for trainer Donald McCain, and caught the eye on the second of those at Doncaster when fifth of 10 to Devilment in a race which has a very strong look to it.
Although eventually beaten 32 lengths, Roskilly travelled well and made headway into third before weakening two from home and was not knocked about.
The winner is a very useful sort now rated 146, and the runner-up and third have both won since and are now rated 133 and 125 respectively.
The fourth home is also rated 120, and that suggests Roskilly’s opening handicap mark of 97 is exploitable if the fitting of the headgear has the desired effect.
Tantamount has a good record at the track, and with conditions to suit looks the answer to the 2m 4f handicap hurdle (15.20).
Trained locally by Lucinda Russell, the six-year-old has run five times at the venue – winning once over today’s trip and finishing in the first four on every other occasion.
The six-year-old has shaped well in his last two starts back from a break, will relish the good ground, and looks to have been laid out for this meeting by connections.
14.50: Roskilly (NB)
15.50: Island Heights
16.55: Master Butcher
17.25: Eshtiaal (NAP)