Anticipated drying out of the ground didn’t really materialise on Day 2. Times remained slow and many were struggling to finish up the hill. So for now I’m assuming similar conditions with only a slight improvement likely for Day 3
The big race of the day proved a huge anti-climax with only one of the ‘star trio’ turning up. Defi Du Seuil couldn’t match his earlier season form and was put in the shade by a bold jumping front running performance from Politologue.
Envoi Allen was the star of the day and its just as conceivable to see him as a future Champion Hurdle winner as it is a Gold Cup one after this performance
Day 3 thoughts:
1.30 Marsh Novices Chase
There may be few more popular winners this week than 12yo Faugheen. He has come to chasing very late in life but the ex Champion hurdler comes here with a serious form chance.
His chasing technique had me wincing a little on his debut but there has been improvement since. He holds a call already this season over Samcro (another who has had greater times and is on a recovery mission)
His likely front running tactics have also been greatly helped by the diversion of stablemate Allaho to another race.
I remain having a niggling fear that he shouldn’t really be in this race however and will be breathing a sigh of relief to see him get home in one piece. I’m not sure is jumping is quite up to the standard need to win this race
Stablemate Melon is also on a bit of a recovery mission since his career best of a Champion hurdle 2nd. He seems to be a horse who needs things to fall right for him and his last run wasn’t encouraging. His best form has seemed to come when allowed to run from the front – we have only seen that once this season. Will he be allowed to use effective ‘spoiler’ tactics agaisnt his stable companion? And if he does can he jump well enough to benefit from it. Both two big question marks that count against him for me
I favour a win for the home side here with Olly Murphy’s Itchy Feet. Placed in last years Supreme Novices, he impressed with coping with Sandown’s tricky fences last time for one so inexperienced. That win over Midnight Shadow looks the best prep form for me
Mister Fisher is another strong contender for the home side but was behind Itchy Feet at the festival last year and I cant see a reason that he has progressed beyond him yet.
Reserve Tank had strong novice hurdle form last year but has never raced on this track. His chasing form this year has yet to reach the same level
With popular sentimental support likely to come in for both Faugheen and Samcro here there must be every chance that prices will increase on others during the course of the day
ITCHY FEET to win
I also think the Sandown 2nd, MIDNIGHT SHADOW , is over priced at around 20/1 and is an each way pick (particularly if 4 places are offered)
He is also one to consider with firms who offer betting ‘without Itchy Feet’
2.10 Pertemps Network Final
Another very competitive handicap with a few previous Festival graded race winners dropping back into handicap company
Previous Bumper winner Relegate ran an eyecatching trial last time. She stormed up the hill to win that race and we can expect her to be coming from behind again here. On the downside she did seem to be struggling with her hurdling last season and is still lacking some experience
When 20/1 was available after her last run it was well worth taking but at around 6/1 I think she has been well found in the market now.
We also have previous Albert Bartlett winners (they certainly wont lack for stamina) in Unowhatimeanharry and Kilbricken Storm
The former is now 12 and seems to be regressing. It’s hard to see him being successful under a welter burden of 11st 10lb.
Kilbricken Storm on the other hand still seems to retain some talent and is one for the short list at around 16/1. There is a slight concern that some of the Tizzard stable’s runners this week have been underperforming though
My main pick though is a progressive young horse who I think could be made for this test.
Hughie Morrison knows how to ready one for a handicap here and Third Wind showed he was coming back on an upward curve when defeating Jatiluwhih (re opposes here but probably has less improvement in him) last time.
He won a very decent handicap at Sandown last season (Skandiburg behind and on worse terms here) that often throws up future graded performers.
He has yet to race over the trip but his style of racing suggests he will be suited by the 3 miles
16/1 was available earlier today but I am seeing no more than 12/1 this evening – someone may have beaten me to the punch here but he remains my main fancy
THIRD WIND each way (note some firms offering up to 7 places on this race)
2.50 Ryanair Chase
I already made a recommendation with this race on the Day 1 blog with ASO each way.
I put him up then to capitalise on Ante Post odds that would guarantee paying out on 1st 3.
With 8 runners still in the race 3 places will be paid – but note if there are any non runners that would drop to paying 1st 2 now (except on the each way option on Betfair Exchange where odds could be lower)
I believe his form over this course last season (including his second in this race) makes him a very similar animal to Frodon and that he simply should be 4 or 5 times the price (he was rated 168 – the same mark as Frodon now has at the start of this season to emphasise this
All his best form is on left handed track so I’m not too concerned by his last two substandard efforts – this was always going to be the race he was being tuned up for
Granted there are two new strong looking rivals also to beat here in A Plus Tard and Min. However I don’t see these two being quite so superior as the market suggests. Horse of a similar level were behind him in this race last year
Riders on the Storm didn’t look to enjoy the course last year and had a very hard race at Ascot last time. I’d be surprised if he is fully over that effort yet
Duc Des Genievres won a substandard Arkle last year and hasn’t done enough since to make me think he is up this level
Of the other outsiders, Saint Calvados is the other I can see running well after a strong handicap performance last time. It doesn’t quite match the handicap efforts that the selection and Frodon have produced here in the past though
ASO each way at 20-1+ if you can get it (but this play is all about getting 3 places on your bet)
3.30 Stayers Hurdle
This division has a star perfomer in its ranks and barring accidents I really cant see Paisley Park getting beaten
His only danger would be a slow gallop followed by a sprint. It’s hard to see anything wanting to make a strong pace as it would fall right into this hands.
Penhill won this race under such a scenario two season ago but such is his recent form that if he were to win again the Stewards should be enquiring into where the improvement came from.
Summerhill Boy tried to control the race when finishing 2nd to Penhill last time and I can see him doing that again
Being at the front in a slowly run affair is always an advantage so he looks one to add into each way bets at bigger odds
I cant see anything but a PAISLEY PARK win but at odds of no more than 4/6 its hard to put him up as a recommendation (my style is to look more for long priced value on this blog)
4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate
Another handicap but with one obvious contender in Simply The Betts who may be better than this level.
His last win was boosted by both the second (Imperial Aura here on Tuesday ) and third winning since. His mark is 8lb higher but that may not be enough to stop him.
The odds of no more than 4/1 have already factored this in however and in value terms there is another I like more for each way bets.
Happy Diva is one of my favourite horses in training and she had her day in the sun here in November winning the Mackeson Gold Cup (or whatever it is called now! – it will always be that race for diehards like me)
She never runs a bad race and although the handicapper may have found her mark in 149 now (6lb higher), I think she can still be competitive.
Her form is exposed but I think that comment applies to the vast majority of this field.
She had Spiritofthegames and Siruh Du Lac well behind when winning that big race. She also holds La Bague Au Roi on Doncaster form and yet that one is half the price here! Given the latter has been kept away from this meeting before as supposedly not liking the track this correlation is particularly baffling to me
If there is another unexposed type in the field that could be Deyrann de Carjac. I was a little disappointed by this ones finishing effort when running here last time though. I wonder if he may be better suited to a flat track
HAPPY DIVA each way – take 25/1+ if you can and 5 places is widely available
4.50 Mares Novice Hurdle
The Henry de Bromhead/Rachel Blackmore team have already tasted success in Mares events with Honeysuckle and field the favourite with Minella Melody here
She holds a few of these on here last win but both she and recent victim Colreevy look types that might prefer a bit further than this 2 mile trip
Two others appeal instead
Concertista narrowly failed in this race last year and showed that competitive big field races were what she wanted when running her best race since at Leopardstown last time. Her conqueror that day, Black Tears, advertised the form no end when just failing in the Coral Cup today.
Floressa appears the main hope of the English and I don’t think I’ve seen a slicker jumper of a hurdler in the novice ranks this year. That asset didn’t help her so much in her last race which was very slowly run and developed into a sprint. It should stand her in much better stead in what should be a more strongly run affair here
Back CONCERTISTA and FLORESSA
5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup
We finish off with another competitive handicap for amateur riders.
As with all such races having a top amateur on board is worth its weight in gold
The main two for me in that respect are Le Breuil (Jamie Codd) and Champagne Platinum (Derek O’Connor)
The former combination are already proven here and this is likely to be a prep race for the Grand National for them
Champagne Platinum is much harder to judge. On some form and previous promise he definitely has the look of a plot for this race – but on other efforts his odds of around 4/1 look monumentally skinny
Outside of these two its also worth noting that Kilfilum Cross and Alex Edwards were second in this race last year and have got back on the same mark.
This one hasn’t been in the same form so far this season but his stable will definitely know how to prime a horse for the big occasion.
He was only beaten by Any Second Now here last year – a horse that could well win the Grand National this year
Plan of Attack is another with a progressive profile who makes it onto my shortlist of 4
If I had to make a recommendation here it would be a win only bet on Kilfilum Cross as think he may be the best value at the prices.
I’d want to be able to narrow it down to more than 4 to have a stronger feeling on this race though so it would only be one for small stakes
Thanks for reading and good luck with whatever you back