Day one did indeed have softer ground as we expected – some described it as dead – but it doesn’t appear to be that 1980 style ground I was expecting and race times suggest it’s not as bad as envisaged. Thankfully there doesn’t appear to be a huge course bias either. While it’s still soft the forecast suggests that it certainly won’t get worse tomorrow and with drying conditions it might not be too attritional on day 2
Onto the races:
1.30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle 2ml 5fur
Samcro is a very impressive individual and will take a world of beating but this race does have a history of short priced ones getting beat. He is the big talking horse in Ireland this year and many will be very disappointed if he is turned over.
It would not surprise me to see him win but I would rather go for an each way alternatives.
I’m happy to see Duc Des Genievres rerouted here. He was beaten by Samcro last time but was the most obvious to take from that race who would benefit from a longer trip. I think he can give the favourite something to think about. (Third horse Paloma Blue ran very well on Tuesday despite pulling away his chances again)
I also like Black Op’s chances. He probably would have won last time but for a last hurdle blip and had been in front plenty soon enough. The New One won this race after getting beaten similarly in the same race so that defeat shouldn’t detract from his chances
Next Destination is too short a price for me in relation to the other two I just mentioned. Vision Des Flos was impressive last time and his stable look to be going well now but I think he still has something to prove on form
Getting a firm that offers ¼ odds for each way purposes is pretty important here if there are similarities in win odds
1pt ew Black Op 10/1 (365 1/4 odds 123)
1pt ew Duc des Genievres 14/1 (Paddy Power/Betfair Sportsbook 1/5 odds 123)
2.10 RSA Novices Chase 3ml
This could be one the races of the festival and there will be no more popular winner than Black Corton and Bryony Frost. This one has a fantastic attitude and done nothing but improve all season. His jumping his assured and it will take a serious horse at the top of their game to beat him.
Elegant Escape beat Black Corton at Newbury earlier this season but the second was giving weight that day and reversed form on level terms at Kempton. The stiffer track may be in Elegant Escape’s favour….but on the other side Black Corton has course winning form
I don’t think there will be a lot between these two but the Irish pair of Presenting Percy and Monalee may be a step ahead of both.
Both have fine previous Festival form over hurdles and both always promised to be better chasers.
Presenting Percy would probably prefer better ground and did have quite a hard race last time when receiving weight and a beating from Our Duke ( the winner is a serious candidate for Friday’s Gold Cup)
Monalee’s season hasn’t gone quite to plan after a fall midway through it. It was good to see him bounce back from that next time – especially as I believe he had a slight setback just before the race – his effort can be marked up because of that.
I have backed Monalee ante post here at bigger prices so won’t be going in again at 7/2. I think he is the one to beat here but there is a slight niggle in my mind about jumping now if he is being taken on at any stage in the race.
It’s not a strong conviction though and I could equally see some attractiveness in backing Black Corton or Elegant Escape each way here.
No recommendations for now
2.50 Coral Cup 2ml 5fur
Always a very competitive handicap
I really liked Burbank’s run at Ascot last time. It signalled a return to form after disappointing efforts earlier in the season. He ran really well at this meeting last year and Nicky Henderson looked like he couldn’t contain his liking for this one on two recent preview evenings.
Really soft ground is something we just don’t know that will suit him or not but he is at the top of my shortlist…any maybe the ground won’t be quite so bad anyway tomorrow
The ground could also be better for Mount Mews but this one has won on it before. He wasn’t as adept over the bigger fences as his rivals at Ascot last time and has been brought back to hurdles. That could be a shrewd move as he has a decent mark here and this trip could be ideal
These two will be my main plays
1pt ew Burbank 18/1 (Hills, Betfred/Tote)
1pt ew Mount Mews 16/1 (Ladbrokes, Corals, Boyles)
- an extra recommendation added here on Wednesday morning with the sponsors paying a generous 1/5th odds a place for the first 7. Graceful Legend is a tough mare who seldom runs a bad race and gets on very well with her 5lb claiming jockey. I think she paid for taking on the favourite in her last race and doesnt probably stay 3miles. She’s better judged on previous course form here and doesnt deserve to be as big as 66/1 0.5pts ew Graceful Legend 66/1 (corals 1/5th 1234567)
3.30 Champion Chase 2miles
Hard to get involved in the 2 mile chasing championship. Altior is the one to beat but hasn’t had the most straightforward of seasons and was the subject of a last minute scare at the beginning of the week. Douvan has also had a chequered career since disappointing in this race last year – he was almost retired earlier this season.
This could let in Min although I doubt he has the talent to beat either of the other two if they are on song (Ruby Walsh choosing to ride Douvan might be a slight negative but as todays Champion Hurdle showed having Paul Townend on board instead isn’t too much o a downside). He hasn’t done much wrong this year though in his preparation for this
Politologue will go on the ground and might appeal to each way punters. Not for me though given his previous form on this course (including a bizarre running out earlier in his career) which suggests to me that he is more effective elsewhere.
Reigning champion Special Tiara would have been my each way choice but the softer ground has gone against him
If Altior is 100% I’d expect him to be too good but with a few doubts seeded about his wellbeing it’s a just a race to watch for me now
No Bet at the moment but I would be very tempted by Min each way if the other big two were backed and he got to 9/2 or bigger
4.10 Cross Country Chase 3ml 6fur
A specialist race in every sense and never been one I’ve been keen on. Strong messages for both Cause of Causes and the enigma that is Tiger Roll coming from Ireland during preview nights but I’ll happily sit this race out
No bet – put the kettle on time!
4.50 Fred Winter Hcap Hurdle 2ml
Eragon Du Chanay has crept in at the bottom of the race after a dominant win on bad ground at Sandown last Saturday. He probably didn’t beat a lot that day but is well in on the back of that. It is a huge ask though to run two races in that short space of time on very bad ground.
Paul Nicholls has a great record in the race – and so do the highest rated flat horses who appear here. Both stats heavily favour Act of Valour who has to be at the top of my shortlist.
I also like his Newcastle victim Look My Way who looks to have gone forward since. This one has also won on heavy at Ffos Las. The ground can be really bad at that track and so whatever he encounters here will hold no fear. He ran really well here behind Apples Shakira last time when really putting it to the Triumph favourite. I’m sure they won’t press on quite as early here with her not to worry about
1.5pt ew Act of Valour 9/1 (Paddy Power/Betfair Sportsbook/Betfred/Tote/Bet Victor)
1pt ew Look My Way 12/1 (365, Hills)
5.30 Champion Bumper 2miles
The Leopardstown race where Blackbow beat Rhinestone looks the strongest piece of form here.
My initial impression was that the second might reverse on better ground at Cheltenham but that hasn’t materialised. Rhinestone’s chance is still boosted by virtue of Barry Geraghty picking him instead of Didtheyleaveuoutto. Blackbow certainly looked the better long-term prospect but I was worried about his action that day and how he would cope with better ground. That might not be such a problem now
Acey Milan has done nothing but improve this season and being by Milan should have no issues with deep ground. ( I need to see how MS Parfois performs on Tuesday first – as stated in day 1 blog I was a bit worried about stable form here)
This looks a strong race and well worth watching for future prospects. Tom George’s pair The Big Bite and Seddon both are highly regarded and shouldn’t be totally disregarded at big odds ( the trainer started the meeting in the perfect way when winning Tuesday’s opener).
(Adrian Heskin made a point of picking out Seddon as a really nice type in a recent preview evening – he didn’t have to do that but obviously holds him in some regard)
I couldn’t put anyone off Blackbow, Rhinestone or Acey Milan but will go for a slightly more speculative recommendation at big odds
0.5 pts ew Seddon 50/1 (Boyles) – would take 40/1
Thanks for reading once more