Tag Archives: National Hunt

Sunday Jumps: February, 24th 2019

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As the start to 2019 has been quite tough, it’s delightful for the mind when getting it (finally) right. Southfield Stone (10/1) did that quite nicely yesterday to land the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle, despite the little fright a the end. He looks a nice prospect, though maybe will turn out to be an even better chase?

That’s a second winner this week (Zylan, 7/1, Thursday) – but of course what sticks in my little head is the one that got away: Gendarme on Friday at Lingfield, ahead before and after the line, it would have been the well needed ‘big one’….

Anyway, better to focus on what’s ahead. Cheltenham, obviously. Trials Day at Naas today for a starter. I’m more interested in the Handicaps there and have a selection (see below), otherwise I am all geared up getting my trends, stats and tissues ready for this one week of craziness that is approaching rather rapidly now!

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4.35 Naas: Handicap Chase, 3 miles

I quite like the favourite Mon Lino back over fences of his lower mark here, but at the same time he is hard to trust and not a backable price.

Much more interesting is King’s Son, who is also back over fences and who could find ideal conditions to return to form. The nine-year-old changed yard over the winter and hasn’t shown much in his first two starts for the Broad yard, but over hurdles and 2 miles he was never in it to win it.

His latest 4th place finish in the Cross-Country at Punchestown is a clear return to some sort of good form, on the other hand. And now down to a mark of 111, he appears to be weighted to go close. His UK form from last summer in particular gives him a significant chance here, if in the mood.

Ground and trip are absolutely ideal and 7lb claiming Kevin Brogan looks a good prospect in the saddle, his claim is a big bonus today I feel. This does not look an overly competitive race, so it could be a fine bit of placing by his new trainer.

Selection:
10pts win – King’s Son @ 15/2 MB

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4.55 Fontwell: Maiden NHF, 2m1½f

Normally not my type of race, however, I do feel quite strongly about the chance of Thunderstruck as he is overpriced here. He was quite an expensive purchase, is clearly well bread and ran promising on his rules debut at the end of last year at Sandown.

That form isn’t particularly strong, but the Fame And Glory gelding should have learned plenty that day. The tough going was clearly not to his likening then, so he’ll likely enjoy the return to much better ground today.

It’s the only ride for Aiden Coleman and the only runner for trainer Emma Lavelle today also. I feel Thunderstruck should be closer matched in the market to the two leading principles.

Selection:
10pts win – Thunderstruck @ 9/2 MB

Photos: Down Royal

Down Royal – what a wonderful racecourse. Last Saturday I had the chance to visit this one of two racetracks located in Northern Ireland for a first time. Less than two hours by car from Dublin, the the course lies in close proximity of the small but charismatic town Listowel.

This Saturday the racecourse was bathing in the balmy autumn sunshine – a beautiful scene in beautiful surroundings. Stands packed to the limit with keen racegoers, for what is one of the highlights of Down Royal racing calendar- still it never felt uncomfortable at any given time. Friendly, relaxed, laid back… the traits of a great racetrack, exactly the way I like it.

Five out of five stars for Down Royal from me. I absolutely loved it. I’ve seen many tracks in my life, but this one ranks right up there with the best!

Down Royal, 31st October 2015 – Photo Gallery: 
(click photos to view full size; all photos credit Florian Christoph)

Fontwell: Mile House A Danger Back Hurdling

Becher's Brook

3.20 Fontwell: Handicap Hurdle (Class 2), 2m 3f

A fairly open race I feel, but someone has to move forward and make the next step to win this. Could it be Mile House? He doesn’t get much love in the betting but feel is too harshly judged on his latest efforts over fences.

The big obstacles didn’t work out for him but a return to hurdling could easily see him back to form. He won a good Class 3 Handicap Hurdle over 2m 4f back in July and looked long good the next time in a hot race off a 5lb higher mark. He was up with a quick pace but faded late to finish 3rd eventually.

Todays trip and track should suit down to the grounds though, and still rated 130 he may well be able to progress again now back hurdling given this is only his ninth start over the smaller obstacles. He makes appeal as a big price against the better fancied horses towards the top of the market.

Mile House @ 14/1 VC – 5pts Win

Champion Chase: Clarcam ready for the battle?

Dedigout and Paul Carberry

4.35 Gowran Park: Grade 2 Champion Chase, 2m 4f

Despite his return from a seasonal break, Clarcam sets a very high standard in this race and is the one they all have to beat. On past form he is clearly the star in this field and his record as a fresh horse is a positive one – so one would imagine he’ll be ready to go..

Although,maybe not quite as ready as last season? Since then Clarcam has developed into a top class chaser, a Grade 1 horse, who will have much bigger prices and targets waiting on the horizon, later in the season.

If Clarcam proves to be slightly vulnerable fitness wise today…. well, there are plenty of alternatives! Top weight Alelchi Inois will appreciate the return to the 2m 4f trip and should be ready for a big battle. He is best to be forgiven his last two below par runs.

Galway Plate winner Shanahan’s Turn poses to be an obvious danger, although I may wonder whether this shorter trip finds him out against speedier sorts? Jessica Harrington’s Cailin Annamh is quite an interesting contender. Improving and versatile, he can make use of her low weight.

Texas Jack probably prefers it softer and seems not as good as he used to be. He was fair and square beaten by Devils Bride the other day, although he’s better off on the weights today with this rival. Nonetheless I fancy the Gigginstown runner to get the better of ‘Jack again today – and in general he looks the one to side with if the favourite, in the same ownership, doesn’t fire.

This progressive chaser has won four of his six starts over fences and really improved this summer with a tongue tie applied. He improved from landing a Handicap at Galway, to beat Texas Jack at Listowel over 2m 4f in very comprehensive style, always travelling strongly. He looked to be able to pull out more if required, so the weight shouldn’t make too much off a difference today.

Whether Devils Bride is up to this high level here remains to be seen. However he clearly is talented and deserves his chance. He may well improve again – he has to do so – but if he does, he won’t be far away in the closing stages.

Devils Bride @ 11/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Listowel: Texas Jack primed for big run

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Boom – there it is! A big winner, again, finally! Aaaahhh I needed that. Thankfully I didn’t see the race but only the result. Wouldn’t have been good for my heart. Misty Lady finished the job at tasty 14/1 in a thrilling finish. Nice.

4.55 Listowel: 2m 4f Chase

I can see why lightly raced Devils Bridge is a very popular horse here – it could well be the case that he can improve enough to be competitive with the top weight Texas Jack, who is obviously the class act in the field. However, as it has been the case in the last days, the ground will have something to say again.This young Devils Bridge has shown all his best form on quick ground – while Listowel dried out a bit, it is still soft today – so completely alien to him.

I’m more inclined to give proven class another chance. Texas Jack was disappointing in all his recent starts, but you can make excused for him. Either the ground wasn’t soft enough, or the trip to far. However 2m 4f on soft ground represents exactly the kind of test he wants.

So if this multiple Grade 2 winner runs to his best form today, he’ll be certainly hard to beat in my mind.So 5/1 looks rather on the generous side.

Texas Jack @ 5/1 William Hill – 5pts Win

Listowel: Catalaunian will relish testing conditions

Dedigout and Paul Carberry

Shame yesterday, Rule The World travelled much like he would rule the kingdom indeed… but he didn’t quite see it out and finished only third. He’s a frustrating horse, to some extend, I guess. Nonetheless, the greyer the clouds become, the darker the mornings are, the more I get into the mood for jump racing. I have set my eye on two interesting chances at Listowel today in particular….

5.00 Listowel: Grade B Handicap Hurdle, 2m

The ground has decimated the field and should be the deciding factor in the race. The favourite makes plenty of appeal as the bottom weight and may well have too much to offer, however is untested on really soft ground.

So chance is taken on Misty Lady, a proven soft ground performer who has won over two miles in the past. Infact she absolutely loves the mud and also stays further. I can see her being positively ridden today to make it a really stiff test which should suit her best. She has won earlier this year off a 10lb lower mark. This form stacks up well and she run with credit of her current mark subsequently, although switched to the flat then , she hasn’t shown any form in her last handful of starts.

Back over hurdles, with conditions sure to suit, she is a big price against the favourite though.

Misty Lady @ 14/1 William Hill – 5pts Win

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5.35 Listowel: Handicap Hurdle, 3m

If you wanna win this, you’ve got to stay the trip, and you need to stay it well in these ground conditions. That won’t suit a handful in this field, though there are some unexposed horses with potential in it.

I feel Catalaunian, albeit favourite on the machines at the moment, is still overpriced. He is lightly raced and improved dramatically for the step up to 3m and soft ground when winning a maiden at Bellewstown by a street last month. The form is  good as the runner-up won subsequently.

Catalaunian should absolutely relish todays conditions at Listowel, and while his mark is stiff enough for a handicap debut, it could equaly underestimate his potential.

Catalaunian @ 7/2 VC – 5pts Win

Rule The World Can Rule The Kingdom

Rule The World, runner-up Irish Grand National

3.45 Listowel: Handicap (Class 1), 9f

Heavy going all around at Listowel, we have to feel thankful for the fact that can race, actually. A pretty open looking handicap this is here, but I feel Water Sprite is quite overpriced. She couldn’t make her name count on the beach last week, but return to this track, where she won a CD handicap last season, should help.

She is also proven on soft ground and can stay further where needed. From a good raw she may go out aggressively  and make this stamina count on a tight track where it certainly is no disadvantage to be up with the pace. She has been pretty rubbish in her last three races, but for mentioned reasons should be competitive today, even more so with a decent 10lb claimer in the saddle.

Water Sprite @ 12/1 Coral – 5pts Win

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4.20 Listowel: Kerry National (Grade a Handicap). 3m

Rule The World is a bit an unlucky horse. He travelled so strongly in the Galway Plate the other day, just to slip two out. He would have gone mightily close, one would assume. He has never won over 3m, however he shouldn’t have a problem staying the trip, given he was second in last seasons Irish National.

What adds more weight to his chance: clearly the ground. He is so much better when it’s bottomless. While his mark went up 3lb for the strong Galway run, he has the fine 3lb claim from David Mullins.

Rule The World @ 7/1 William Hill