It was officially Soft ground for the opening day but with drying conditions it soon became clear this description wasn’t accurate. Good to Soft or even possibly Good seemed more likely from race times and we could easily have purely Good ground on day 2 unless the Clark of the Course switches on his hosepipes
Appreciate It, Shishkin and Honeysuckle all were impressive favourites but Black Tears saved the books from a complete thumping by turning over the other hot favourite Concertista.
It was pleasing to see an old favourite Vintage Clouds finally win at the Festival – but bittersweet for me as I have put him up for the same race before and ignored him this time.
If anyone could fine the 80/1 Winner in the Boodles then you don’t need my help!
Onto Day 2:
1.20 Ballymore Novices Hurdle
Another much smaller field than usual for this race but the three main contenders are still here and are hard to split in the market . None of them have course experience to count as an advantage. With only 7 runners the each way possibilities here have been limited as only 2 places will be paid (except Betfair Sportsbook who offer an extra place
BOB OLINGER is favoured in the betting. He has only been beaten once over an inadequate trip and his price has dropped ever since top amateur Jamie Codd called him a ‘god given certainty’ in a recent preview. Since he tipped up outsider Labaik to win a couple of seasons ago, ‘the word of Codd’ has often had a big bearing on the market.
GAILLARD DU MESNIL represent the powerful Mullins stable and was impressive in his trial at Leopardstown. That was over a longer trip and against Stayers. He was edging favouritism for this race until Codd’s remarks came out.
BRAVEMANSGAME represents the home side and has drawn comparisons with the same stable’s mighty Denman. He also was beaten first time up over a shorter trip but has flourished since being stepped up in distance. He was very impressive in winning the Challow Hurdle and that form looks the best coming into this to me. A word of warning though – Challow winners have a terrible record in this race (Denman won that and was beaten in this too). I think that stat is having a bearing on his price here. Other than that I feel he should be slight favourite here.
BEAR GHYLLS also comes here unbeaten and adds a further bit of intrigue. He would be a shorter price if trained by a bigger stable but his form doesn’t quite stack up the same level yet
KESKONRISK steps up from the 2 mile division and could hav a touch of extra pace that could threaten if the pace is slow
I marginally favour Bravemansgame as he is the biggest price and I think they all have a similar chance. The better ground is a slight concern for all 3 at the head of the market and will largely keep this to being a race to watch rather than to bet on.
1.55 Brown Advisory Novices Chase (formerly RSA Chase)
Only 6 runners here and MONKFISH has been so impressive in this division this year that I can’t see any other winner bar any mishaps happening in the race. He looks every inch a Gold Cup horse for next year. He’s already very short in the market though at around 2/5 and so not one to get rich by backing
2.30 Coral Cup
Competitive handicap time again here and two of them stand out for my shortlist here. There will be some competition with firms to offer extra places here. 4 places is the norm for 16+ runner handicaps but up to 7 places are available if you shop around
Top weight THOMAS DARBY might be up against it to concede weight all around on the face of it but he did do similar in a good handicap at Ascot last season. He also has that touch of class on past form (2nd in Supreme Novices in past) and if the ground isn’t too soft I think he is a big contender here . (Its also interesting he is wearing first time cheekpieces here )
The Betfair Hurdle used to be a key guide to this race. It hasn’t quite been such a clue in recent years but GUARD YOUR DREAMS ran an extraordinary race in it this year. He was looking like last place was booked for him before the home turn but ran on really strongly in the closing stages to finish an eyecatching 6th. He is unproven over this trip but it looked for all the world like he needed further there
Back THOMAS DARBY and GUARD YOUR DREAMS each way taking 6 or 7 places if at all possible
3.05 Champion Chase
The two mile division has a standout performer in CHACUN POUR SOI this season. If this race was at Leopardstown he would be half of the price he is here – it’s the fact he has never raced over this course which keeps his price high. His form is also all on softer ground than he is now likely to meet here
It would be no shock to see him surmount these two obstacles and outclass them still here but at a shade of odds on he is too short for me
POLITOLOGUE won a possibly sub standard renewal last year but was impressive doing it. I think he can reverse Ascot form with FIRST FLOW ( not convinced by the latter’s course form here and may need deeper ground)
NUBE NEGRA hasn’t got home on this track in past seasons. He’s a better horse this season but I think a flat track will always suit him best
PUT THE KETTLE On has never run badly here and I couldn’t put you off each way on here. Each way options would also be there for SCEAU ROYAL and ROUGE VIF if they get their favoured good ground. The latter is particularly interesting at 28/1 if we can forget his two latest runs on soft ground. His previous win here on Good ground was deeply impressive – albeit giving weight to handicappers.
With a couple of doubts in my mind about the favourite I’d be looking at two bigger priced each way selections here in anticipation they might get the Good ground they both need. SCEAU ROYAL has gone close in this before without getting that ground and 16/1 is fair for him. ROUGE VIF is an even better 28/1 and would be my other.
The Betting without the Favourite market may also be one to look on tomorrow here with these two selections if the price on Chacun Pour Soi continues to drop
3.40 Cross Country Chase
‘Put the Kettle On’ comes to mind again here…but not the horse!
This isn’t really my race but for those wanting an interest SOME NECK has won over this course before and would be my idea of one for each way multiples with firms offering 4 places
4.15 Grand Annual Hcap Chase
This race is normally run on the final day and over the stiffer New Course. Normally they do very fast and the front runners come back. Over the Old Course they might just be able to stay away. The change in circumstances probably makes recent stats fairly irrelevant
Two against the field again for me here at decent prices
Joseph O’Brien holds a strong hand here with EMBITTERED and ENTOUCAS at the front of the betting . Both are novices however and plenty short enough in a race that is likely to test their jumping experience to the full. My eye is drawn more to last years 3rd US AND THEM. He hasn’t shown that much this season but I suspect Spring festivals have always been the plan with him (also 2nd in Arkle in 2019). I like that JJ Slevin has kept the ride on him.
ON THE SLOPES was a progressive novice last season but disappointed at the start of this season when not getting home as well as he did last season. He has had Wind Surgery since and then a pipe opener in a flat race at Kempton. He likes to race prominently so should be suited to the different conditions this year. The addition of a tongue tie is a further boon in helping him to get back to the level he was promising at the end of last season
DUC DES GENIEVRES also is worth a mention at big odds. He comfortably beat US AND THEM here in the 2019 Arkle but hasn’t backed up that form too often since. He showed here earlier in the season that he still has ability though and it’s interesting that his usual work rider Lorcan Williams gets the leg-up today. Given some comments from the trainer that he gets on really well with him I wouldn’t be taking the riding arrangements as a negative here (and a 3lb riding allowance if also welcome
Back US AND THEM and ON THE SLOPES each way – again looking for firms offering extra places. There has been some money for the latter already this evening and earlier shows of 25/1 seem to have now disappeared
4.50 Champion Bumper
KILCRUIT and SIR GERHARD have dominated the market for this race for some time. Both have been massively impressive this season and its not surprising they are both trading at short odds.
Both are trained by Willie Mullins but he only inherited SIR GERHARD recently when he was removed from the Gordon Elliott stable. That probably isn’t ideal for his preparation here.
THREE STRIPE LIFE was Sir Gerhard’s stablemate but he didn’t have to move yards. You couldn’t knock the way he won on his only start and I don’t get the impression he was rated that far behind his erstwhile stablemate. At the prices I think the value lies with him – and with some firms offering 4 places I think connections will be very disappointed if he doesn’t collect some place money at least
THREE STRIPE LIFE each way with 4 places
That’s day 2 thoughts concluded – I’ll be back again tomorrow evening with day 3’s picks
Thanks for reading once more – and good luck