After a disappointing run for Chief Little Hawk at Wolverhampton on Monday it’s back to the green grass on Tuesday with a confident selection in the Epsom opener.
Before we look what’s on the menu there let’s take step back and see what happened on Easter Monday in the Irish Grand National. Willie Mullins was sending out exciting Novice Gaillard Du Mesnil, who went off the 11/2 favourite on the late evening as Fairyhouse was basking in sunshine.
The 6-year-old gelding travelled well for most of the race in the hands of Paul Townend, although he was a bit tight for room two fences from home. This didn’t have any impact on the result, though. Because the winner travelled equally well, only to find more than anyone else in the closing stages.
Lord Lariat, a 7-year-old gelding won the Irish Grand National as a 40/1 shot, outrunning those odds in some style. Remarkably he’s done it for the same trainer and jockey as twelve months ago when Freewheelin Dylan claimed an amazing 150-1 triumph for local trainer Dermot McLoughlin and 7lb claiming jockey Paddy O’Hanlon.
For one of the smaller yards this is a near unbelievable achievement. Especially as neither Lord Lariat nor Freewheelin Dylan were supported by the public in the betting at all.
All questions whether Lord Lariat would stay the 3m 5f trip where comprehensively mastered and clearly horse was well managed through the season by McLoughlin. He won like a good thing.
1.50 Epsom: Class 3 Handicap, 5f
This will be fast and furious as races over the minimum distance down the Epsom straight tend to be. Progressive Electric Love is of interest, so is Recon Mission of a reduced mark. Thegreatestshowman appears a touch overpriced back on turf.
But the one I am really keen on is Mokaatil. No surprise, he was on a recent eye-catcher list for his season opening run at Doncaster. That day I felt he looked full of enthusiasm late in the race despite the trip being not quite his optimum.
He ran with credit at Lingfield in a hot Handicap since then but wasn’t fancied and neither was I interested in him that day. It’s a different story over five furlongs at Epsom.
Mokaatil is down another couple of pounds in his rating, drops back into class 3 and down to the minimum trip. He is the reigning Epsom Dash winner from exactly the same 82 handicap mark, followed up at Musselburgh to win of 86 and run to 85 and 80 topspeed ratings in those races.
In combination with the well-being confirmed in the referenced recent races he’s an obvious shout the marked doesn’t miss. Yet, having a highly capable apprentice on board claiming additional 7lb – and looking good value for the weight allowance – Mokaatil is a big chance and still underestimated in the betting.
10pts win – Mokaatil @ 7/2
Chief Little Hawk was a big disappointment today. He missed the break and the race was basically gone from there. He made bit of late progress without ever challenging.
I’ll keep the faith for another day. Ideally on turf. There is a race in him to win, for all the reasons mentioned in the preview.