Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle
A strong renewal this year and will hopefully be very informative in regards to the Cheltenham Festival. The market is headed by Gaillard Du Mesnil, who despite being well beaten on his first start over hurdles. Stuck himself firmly in the Ballymore picture with a win that oozed class on his next start.
The one concern you could have for him going into this race is the possibility of him not staying. This race tends to be used a stepping stone towards the Albert Bartlett and you would imagine this will become a real test of stamina.
Stablemate Stattler follows him in the market and looks to be Willie’s leading Bartlett contender. He bounced out and made virtually all on his most recent start, looking tough and genuine. He plays second fiddle to Gaillard Du Mesnil in Paul Townend’s eyes but he will ensure this race is run at a good clip and this will surely find out anyone with stamina doubts.
The horse that many people got wise to is Holymacapony, he downed Gaillard Du Mesnil on the pairs hurdling debut by an impressive 8L. He was though unable to back that performance on his next start. Sent off the 7/4 favourite in a Grade 2 won by Ashdale Bob, it was one of the more peculiar runs you will see. Travelling sweetly up to the home straight, he quickly became detached from the field and looked like something was amiss. Nothing has since come to light on that run but if returning to his previous effort he looks to have a good chance.
I’ve landed on Cape Gentleman who was an impressive winner on his sole hurdling start. He won in the manner of a very smart horse that day, cruising up and strolling past his rivals. The ground looks to be testing this weekend which wont be an issue for the selection who won on heavy. I also don’t have any stamina doubts about him as he was a good winner of the Irish Cesarewitch. A performance that got him a mark of 100 on the flat.
Selection — CAPE GENTLEMAN 13/2 E/W
Ladbrokes Dublin Chase:
On paper, this looks like a race packed with pace as Min, Sizing Pottsie and Fakir D’oudairies all known front runners. Which is why I will be keeping a close eye on Tornado Flyer. He is better known for his exploits over longer distances but looks well worth a shot in a race like this.
We can only go off reports from the John Durkan, but from what Patrick Mullins said Tornado Flyer was coming with a real challenge up to the last. The fact Min was able to outstay him gives me the impression that this drop back to 2 miles could really suit him.
Of course, I think it will be difficult for him to beat Chacun Pour Soi. but with Notebook and Min both having been convincingly beaten its a good enough reason to look elsewhere. On the form of his John Durkan run behind Min he looks fairly overpriced.
The main concern for this horse is he likes to be held up over longer trips and he could become outpaced. I do hope that they kill each other off at the front end and if he can remain in touch he will be staying on strongly.
There are many bets that this throws up, 25/1 E/W, 7/1 W/O Chacun Pour Soi, 3/1 without Chacun & Min or the Chacun/Tornado Flyer Forecast 10/1.
I think I will keep it simple and go 25/1 E/W.
Selection: TORNADO FLYER 25/1 E/W
Patrick Ward & Co. Solicitors Irish Arkle Novice Chase
A race that has been dominated in recent years by favourites and this year looks no different. Energumene boasts an impressive 4 from 5 since joining Willie Mullins and is yet to taste defeat over obstacles.
He’s a polished jumper and has a fantastic blend of pace and stamina. Willie has unleashed some real beasts here in years gone by with Douvan and Un De Sceaux to name a couple. He will be hoping Energumene can follow in their footsteps.
There looks to be only one main challenger in the field and comes in the form of Unexcepted. Unexcepted burst onto the scene with an impressive win in a maiden hurdle, leaving now 153 rated hurdler Jason The Militant 4L back in 2nd.
He was, unfortunately, unable to replicate that form over hurdles but bounced back to form on chasing debut with an 8L win. Back in 2nd, that day was a good yardstick in Entoucas rated 138. A replication of that form should see him hopefully put it up to Energumene but maybe he’s not one to put your faith in.
You get the impression that Energumene is by far and away the best of these. Any other result would come as a shock.
Selection — ENERGUMENE 5/6
Matheson Handicap Chase
A fairly boring selection here I’m afraid with Entoucas for Joseph jumping off the page at me. He’s currently a scumbag E/W bet at odds of around 5/1, he has rock-solid form over fences reading 2224. All three of the horses who he has finished 2nd to will be contesting Grade 1s before this race which is, of course, a positive sign.
He also shaped better than the bare result on his most recent start coming from an unfavourable position. I am hoping that today is going to be his day but if not he looks solid enough to hit the frame.
I will be keeping an eye on Aramax who I have had an Ante-post bet on for the Grand Annual. I’m in two minds with him, he needs this sort of big field experience but I don’t want him to go and win doing handstands.
Selection — ENTOUCAS 5/1 E/W (6 Places)
Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle
The quality action continues at Leopardstown with the Irish Champion Hurdle. A smaller field than last year but it doesn’t lack for quality.
I’ve never shied away from my thoughts on Honeysuckle and she has continued to leave me with egg on my face. Once again I will be looking to take her on, I simply wasn’t impressed with her run in the race last season. I just don’t think she jumps slick enough for a championship 2-mile race and I’m hopeful this year it will be her un doing.
It was clear to see that Sharjah didn’t run to form last season. If he had of done then I think he would be looking to retain his crown. He is a horse thas struggles to back up his runs and that is a huge question mark over him.
This may be mad but I am going to give Petit Mouchoir a go at double-digit odds. He was only a length behind Honeysuckle in this race last year and had all three of Saint Roi, Abacadabras and Saldier in behind on his most recent run.
He is most probably the 2nd most consistent in this race behind Honeysuckle and you imagine he would be there pitching coming to the last.
Selection — PETIT MOUCHOIR 18/1 E/W
Since 2018 the Ladbrokes Hurdle has been run at the Dublin Racing Festival (The year the Dublin racing festival started) and since then Charles Brynes has had one lined up for the contest. For that one reason, I think it’s worth noting that he has only one runner in the field and its the well-fancied Advanced Virgo.
I also think it’s very interesting that he ran in the same Fairyhouse race that Off You Go did for the same trainer before winning this race in 2019. I won’t lie it’s not the most complex angle to take but its been a winning formula and definitely worth noting.
There is of course Blue Sari who hasn’t been seen for a long time. He has some cracking bumper form to his name but will need to show a lot more than he has done over hurdles to date.
The one I'm going to take a chance on is Front View, he looked like a real plot job for the Martin Pipe last season but was unable to land a blow finishing down the field. I do think he is better suited to 2 miles though and looks well handicapped off 134. (I hope I haven’t fallen into the same trap as I did at last years festival with him)
Selection — FRONT VIEW 14/1 E/W (6 Places)