Racing tip of the day
Ben Coley is backing Merrion Square to win the Bromfield Sand & Gravel Handicap Chase at Ludlow.
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Merrion Square: 1610 Ludlow
At the time of writing, officials at Ffos Las have yet to confirm that this afternoon's action goes ahead and as I cling to the National Hunt season, that leaves me with Ludlow to pour over.
To my eye there look some particularly uninspiring favourites on the card but that can't be said of Merrion Square, who looks to hold outstanding claims in the 1610.
Trained by Paul Nicholls, this unexposed gelding landed Sandown's Grand Military Gold Cup with little fuss last time, despite some concerns that the extended three-mile trip on soft ground would push his stamina beyond breaking point.
Despite that, I can't help but feel that a drop back to two and a half miles on similar ground will help Merrion Square, who travelled powerfully throughout the contest having been held up by Jody Sole.
Hopefully, connections opt for similar tactics again as opposed to returning to the front-running style that had served the seven-year-old well previously. I say that because Henry Hook looks an obvious pace angle, and taking him on would be unwise.
Speaking of Henry Hook, he's gone up the weights despite being beaten on his comeback run last time and while improvement could well be forthcoming, I'm not convinced he's poised to produce the career-best that may be needed to win here.
Justlikefrankie has developed a consistent but frustrating profile, and the handicapper would seem to have control with a mark 6lb above that which he last won from.
Instead, the danger could be Urgence D'Estruval, whose return to this sort of trip should prompt improvement if her French form is taken at face value. She's only five and the best is probably yet to come.
However, off a mark of 127 I think Merrion Square is well-treated and there's almost certainly more to come from him too, so at around 5/2 he's a confident selection for a yard whose ventures to Ludlow are rare.