Next Race Preview
Gowran Park (Going; Heavy)
Red Mills Chase (2m4f)
Six have been declared but Daly Tiger and Kildorrey finished in the place money at Naas on Sunday behind Cialos Emery and I would imagine unlikely to run. Either way it's hard to see past Bachasson who has won his three starts this season including beating Cilaos Emery by over 5l at Clonmel back in November. Castlegrace Paddy will enjoy the conditions but steps up to this distance for the first time over fences. While he beat A Plus Tard in a Grade 2 at Navan in November he was beaten a long way on his two subsequent strarts both Grade 1's. Annamix is a course and distance winner when he bet Spyglass Hill here in November on Heavy ground but has been well beaten on his two subsequent starts. If he runs Daly Tiger gets 5lb from Bachasson which gives him an advantage at the ratings but I think Bachasson will be too good.
Best Alternative; Castlegrace Paddy
Naas (Going; Soft To Heavy)
Paddy Power Betting Shop Novice Hurdle (1m7f101y)
It looks a poor enough race compared to some of the names on the Roll Of Honour. Echoes In Rain ran quite freely last time at Punchestown when a 7l fourth to Dreal Deal last month. Prior to that she had won around this Course and Distance in December by 15l. She gets a nice light weight with the Mares allowance. Razzle Dazzle Love was a 23l winner of a Punchestown hurdle back in Dedcember but was well beaten in two subsequent starts. The win was on Heavy ground so conditions won't be a problem. Streets Of Doyen hasn't been seen since completing a four timer when winning at Cheltenham in October. That was his fifth start in forty six days. All those wins came on Good or Good to soft and were over 3m. He has an entry in the Albert Bartlett so this might be a warm up as he does not like it Heavy. Jesse Evans won twice on Good ground in the Autumn but was well beaten in two runs on Soft To Heavy and Noel Meade thinks if it gets very heavy ground it will be a problem. Belfast Banter has won just once in ten starts since last June with four runner up spots while Desir Du Large has his first start since December 2018 and Mighty Tom will have to find a lot on known form. I've no real view on this but am going with the money and Echoes In Rain and with the ground dryuing a bit Jesse Evans could be an alternative.
Selection; Echoes In Rain
Best Alternative; Jesse Evans
Fontwell (Going; Good To Soft)
National Spirit Hurdle (2m3f49y)
Apparently this has been the target for McFabulous for some time and the drying ground will help but a worry is the trip around a tight track and having to concede weight to a few of his rivals. However he is a multiple Graded winner and is a class horse. Brewin'upastorm reverted to Hurdles on his last start following two poor efforts over fences this season having won his first two last season before unseating at Cheltenham in the Arkle. He ran out a comfortable winner of that hurdle race although probably entitlrd to do so with most of them on ratings. Cornerstone Lad would probably prefer more juice in the ground as his best form has come on soft or heavy. Molly Ollys Wishes gets the Mares allowance and has won her last three starts, on Soft and the latest on Heavy thirteen days ago at Warwick where she won by 15l. This is a tougher task. Call Me Lord was well beaten by McFabulous the last day after which he had a wind op which will have to make a big difference if he's to repeat the form he showed when winning the International Hurdle at Chelytenham in 2019. Reserve Tank is having his first run since injuring himself and pulling up in the Marsh Novice Chase last March and is best watched. McFabulous has the class and is the selection but Brewin'upastorm got a confidence boost the last day and might be an alternative for those who don't like backing shorties.
Best Alternative; Brewin'upastorm
Kempton (Good, Good To Soft in places)
Pendil Novices Chase (2m4f110y)
Four go to post for this Grade 2. Paul Nicholls had Hitman entered here but relies instead on Tamarac Du Mathan. Having won a hurdle in France on gis only start he failed to win in four starts over Hurdles for current connections. He then had a wind op last August before reappearing at Wincanton in November for his Chase debut and running of his hurdle mark of 131was an easy 4l winner. On his next and only other start he finished a 13l second to Shishkin in the Wayward Lad over 2m here at Christmas. His trainer reckons he'll be much better suited by Good ground here. Ga Law did us a favour back in November at Wincanton when completing a hat trick over Fences. All those wins came between 2m3f and 2m4f. He then went to Sandown for the Grade 1 Henry VIII but over 2m he was no match for the impressive Allmankind and Hitman on Soft Ground. His three wins in Britain came on Good and Good to Firm so I'm expecting a big run here. Evan Williams is keen to get a run into Coole Cody who holds an entry in four races at Cheltenham and is likely to run in a Handicap. He was last seen finishing 38l behind Chatham Street at Cheltenham in early December but he had won the Paddy Power Chase at the November meeting. Son Of Camas had a wind operation either side of been pulled up behind Envoi Allen at Cheltenham last March. He again pulled up on his reappearanc ein November before making his debut over fences around this course and distance but faded going to the last. He dropped back in trip around here two weeks ago for one of those Kempton Bumpers againd stopped quickly. Tamaroc Du Mathan holds an entry in the Grand Annual at the Festival while Ga Law is entered in the three Grade 1 Novices. The 5lb penalty the latter carries here means there is nothing between them at the weights but I think Ga Law might just shade it.
Selection; Ga Law
Best Alternative; Tamaroc Du Mathan
Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (2m)
Nine go to post for this tricky little contest. Alan King has a good record in this race and runs the high class flat recruit Tritonic here. Rated 99 on the fkat he also had an entry in the Dovecote later in the card. He had just the one start over hurdles at Ascot five weeks ago and despite a mistake at the last he ran on strongly to beat Cas Loupi 1l withy the tird a further 18l back. That was his first run since early October so we can expect improvement. Honneur D'Ajonc was arguably goint to win his race at Christmas over this Course and Distance but clipped the top bar of the hurdle with his front legs, couldn't get them down in time and fell. He had been a 5l second to Monmiral at Exeter in November on his only other start. He reportedly schooled brilliantly since and connections are very keen on him. Casa Loupi had the benefit of a couple of runs on the flat in January and December when beaten by Tritonic so may not find as much improvement as the latter. His highest flat rating was 70 but they don't always match their National Hunt ones. Paso Doble was bought for £120k after finishing third in a Dundalk handicap last October. He hasn't run since and as it's his first start over hurdles it's best to watch the market. Hugo Merrienne sends Margaret's Legacy over from France where he has won two of his three starts. It's hard to equate the form but the trainer likes him and thinks the track will suit. John Locke had just five runs on the flat reaching a mark of 85. He was bought by current connections form £75k. He has his first start over hurdles and first since October but must be showing Skeltons something. Soldier On Parade is an interesting runner. He's had five runs over hurdles running up a hat trick, all on Good ground, before going down by 27l to Duffle Coat in a Listed Hurdle at Wetherby in October that was his seventh run in twenty weeks so he may have gone off the boil. He had a nice break until last week when he won a 2m flat start at Lingfield. On his last win he beat Histonic 12l in to second and the latter came out next time and finished an 8l second to Duffle Coat in the above Wetherby Listed Hurdle which suggests Soldier On Parade ran well below his best. The run at Lingfield also suggests this has been a target for a while and he might be a bit of E.W. value. I think I'll stick with Tritonic with Soldier On Parade E.W. as an alternative.
Best Alternative; Soldier On Parade E.W.
Dovecote Novices Hurdle (2m)
Just seven go to post for this Grade 2 and Paul Nicholls saddles the early favourite in Atholl Street who has won his two hurdle starts, both at Taunton, the latest by 16l back in December. He's been kept for this race and he'll like the Ground. Calico was bought off the flat in Germany and won his only Hurdle start at Ludlow last month when quickening from the last to go clear on the run in and win by just over 4l. Emmet Mullins sends over Cape Gentleman. He won the Cesarawitch at the Curragh and followed up with a win over 2m4f on his first start over Hurdles but was pulled up in the Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival having hung right and got tailed off. He's into 3/1 from 9/2 but the form of his hurdle win hasn't rally worked out. The ground could be gone for Lunar Sovereign who has won his two starts over hurdles on soft and heavy ground. Mackenberg won his first start over hurdles when winning by 9l at Carlisle on Good ground. He was a bit disappointing on his next two on soft ground but got back to winning ways at Newcastle earlier this month when winning a Bumper. I don't know if it's significant or not but his regular jockey Brian Hughes has opted for six rides at Newcastle. Alan King relies on Son Of Red who won at Newcastle on Hurdling debut on Good ground but was beaten 212lm at Cheltenham on his only bother start on Heavy going. Paul Nicholls seems keen on Atholl Street and he gets the nod.
Selection; Atholl Street
Best Alternative; Calico
Navan (Heavy, Soft to heavy in places)
Boyne Hurdle (2m5f)
Fury Road drops back in trip after a disappointing run behind Flooring Porter when favourite at Christmas. However he was freported to be not 100% right. On his only other start this season he beat Dewcup on heavy ground at Punchestown in November. Despite his neck third to Monkfish in the 3m Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham his wins have come at the Intermediate distances. French Dynamite cost connections €165k a few days after winning his point in May 2019. He won his maiden next time out on soft but was beaten a long way by Envoi Allen on Good to Yielding next time. First time cheek pieces produced a win next time beating The Bosses Oscar but disappointed in a Grade 3 next time at Thurles in February and was put away until re appearing here in November and going down by half a length to Sire Du Berlais in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle and then finishing upsides Fury Road when 10l behind Flooring Porter at Christmas over 3m. Beacon Edge got his season off to a good start winning twice, the second a Grade 3 at Galway. He then put up a smart perfomance going down by three parts of a length to Honeysuckle. He was then beaten almost 6l by Bachasson in Naas at the end of January but there were excuses as he had a colic in between runs. Sixshooter's (said to be an unlikely runner by Trainer) jumping seemed to improve at Gowran in the Galmoy where he was an 11k third and looked as if the trip was a shade to far for him. On his penultimate start he finished 3l behind French Dynamite in the Lismullen having beaten Kilfenora over 4l at Punchestown on his seasonal debut.. He finished last season getting beaten 2l by Francin and if we go back to Punchestown in May 2019 he beat The Big Getaway, Fury Road and You Raised Me Up by two half lengths and 4l which is a fair level of form. Tiger Roll finished down the field in this last year on his seasonal debut. He's had two disappointing efforts this season and is coming back after a rest. He's probably best watched. Darasso has been disappointing since finishing a 9l second to Cilaos Emery at Gowran a year ago. He was rated 156 when finishing down the field in last Year's Champion Hurdle. Decor Irlandais hasn't run since winning at Killarney last August 183 day's ago. He looks outclassed here. Scarpeta was off from March 2019 until last September where he finished a long way back. He was much improved next time although his jumping let him down when a 6l second to Bachasson at Punchestown at the end of December and his jumping again let him down when pulling up in the Galmoy. Interesting that he's the only Mullins representative here. Fury Road has to give 5lb to most of his rivals while it might come a bit quick for Beacon Edge so slight preference is for French Dynamite.
Selection; French Dynamite
Best Alternative; Fury Road
Newbury (Going; Good To Soft, Soft in places)
Denman Chase (2m7f86y)
Eight are due to face the starter for this Grade 2 with Clan Des Obeaux a short order to get off the mark for the season. He was a beaten favourite in the King George when finishing 8l back in third and it's possible the run in the Betfair on the Haydock bog five weeks previously left it's mark as he ran pretty flat. He's been freshened up and as he has no entries for Cheltenham he should be primed for this. Lostintranslation has pulled up in the last two King George and has had a wind op after each. He was 45l back in third in the Betfair at Haydock which was only hois second start since his first wind op. If he could find the form he showed in 2019 winning Grade 1's at Aintree and Haydock he would have a chance. Kalshnikov hasn't won in six starts since winning a Grade 1 at Aintree in April 2019. He was beaten a long way by Altior in the Gane Spirit on this card last year after which he had a wind op. On his first start back after that, in November, he was well beaten but in a Grade 3 Hurdle but improved on that on his next and last start going down bu just under 2l to Mister Fisher in the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase with Dolos 14l further back. Secret Investor was second in this last year after which he had a wind op. He won on his next start at Chepstow in October but was very disappointing in the Ladbroke Chase here in November. Conections won't want anymore rain to fall. The Conditional has a fair bit to find on ratings. Cepage has only run further than 2m5f once and was beaten over 10l around Cheltenham at 3m1f by The Conditional in the Ultima Handicap Chase at last years festival. Admittedly the winner was in receipt of 16lb but Cepage looked as if he didn't stay. This is probably an easier 3m and he was impressive at Chepstow when winning in early January over an extended 2m3f. Terrefort has his first start since since pulling up in the Ryanair at Cheltenham last march and is best watched. Clan Des Obeaux and maybe Lostintranslation, who the Tizzards have been talking up, could be an alternative.
Selection; Clan Des Obeaux
Best Alternative; Lostintranslation
Game Spirit Chase (2m92y)
Six go to post for this tricky Grade 2. Greaneteen won the Haldon Cup back in November and then finished a 7l second to Politilogue in the Tingle Creek, his only two starts this season. This race has apparently been the plan and connections believe he'll run very well. Sceau Royal is pretty ground dependent and wouldn't want anymore rain to fall. Having been campaigned over hurdles on his first four starts he reverted to Chasing in the Desert Orchid at Christmas but fell at the fifth having stumbled at the back of the third. He was second to Altior in last years renewal but carries 6lb less here. Fanion D'Estruval won over course and distance back in November 2019 but hasn't won in four subsequent efforts, His best run was probably his last when he was a 9l fourth behind three good horses in the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase. Champ has his first run since his sensational win in the RSA at Cheltenham last March. The drop back in trip looks a big ask but Nicky Henderson is quoted as saying he doesn't think where he finishes is as important as getting a run into him. It's also his first run after wind surgery. Dolos beat First Flow, who was getting 22lb from the winner, by half a length last February at Sandown. The runner up who raced off a mark of 140 that day is now off 166 while Dolos has risen just 2lb to 159. Looks the stables second choice and a negative is the hard race he had fifteen days ago at Sandown. Paul Nicholls has been talking Magic Saint up though jockey bookings suggest he's third choice for the stable. He is a course and distance winner and beat Fanion D'Estruval by just over 2l at Cheltenham last November when getting 3lb from the runner up. Hopefuly there is no more rain and if conditions stay the same Sceau Royal, who is rated 2lb higher than Greaneteen but gets 6lb from him here must have a great chance.
Selection; Sceau Royal
Best Alternative; Greaneteen
Wincanton (Going; Heavy)
Kingwell Hurdle (1m7f65y)
It's going to be pretty testing for the runners with about 12mm of rain forecast to fall on already Heavy Going, but there are no plans for an Inspection as of now. Winner of last year's renewal, Song For Someone, heads the market having won two Grade 2's on his last two starts, both on Soft ground. In the last win he just held on by a nose to beat Silver Streak who won the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. He has an entry in the Champion Hurdle and with only twenty three days to that race you would wonder if connections will sacrifice their chance in that for a hard race here. Goshen also has an entry for the Champion Hurdle and gets 6lb here from Song For Someone. Since falling in the Triumph he had a couple of alright runs in flat races but was very disappointing behind Song For Someone at Cheltenham after which he was found to have a heart irregularity. Navajo Pass has won his last two starts. On the penultimate came home over 9l in front of the runner up who was receiving 10lb over 2m4f at Musselborugh on Soft ground. He then went to Haydock four weeks ago for the Champion Hurdle Trial and beat Buveur D'Air by 4l. He got a 7lb hike in the ratings for that one which might have been a bit unfair as the runner up was returning after a fourteen month absence through injury. He has to carry a 6lb penalty for that Grade 2 win which puts him on top weight with Song For Someone and conceding that 6lb to the rest of the field. Friend Or Foe, who is also declared for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Sunday, is a course and distance winner when carrying 11-12 to an 11l victory in a handicap Hurdle here in December. He got a 13lb rise in the ratings for that and he ran a cracking race next time at Sandown in another handicap when going down by just under 2l to the winner who was getting 13lb with the first two pulling 19l clear of the rest on Heavy ground. Esprit Du Large reverts to Hurdles after falling in three of his last four starts. Prior to that he had won two starts over fences beating Nube Negra by almost 2l which earned him a rating of 155. He had a heavy fall the last day and is probably best watched. Calgary Tiger is an eight race maiden rated 105 who will need a miracle to win. Navajo Pass was fourth behind Burning Victory in the Triumph with Aspire Tower and Allmankind just ahead of him. With stamina sure to be at a premium he might be worth a bet here.
Selection; Navajo Pass
Best Alternative; Goshen
Reynoldstown Novices Chase (2m7f180y)
Demachine takes a big step up in class after a wind op having been a beaten favourite on his last start. He'd won his two runs prior to that, the last over this course and distance. He's only had the seven starts in his career to date and should have more improvement in him. Remastered has won his last two starts both on Heavy and the latest after a wind op. That was over 3m at Wetherby on Heavy ground so the trip shouldn't be a problem. Sevarano won his first two starts over fences, the second by 18l. On his third and last start he slipped at the first and that unnerved him a bit so we can maybe draw a line under that. On his final hurdle start back in March he was a 6l second to McFabulous. Although it's his first time over the trip his trainer is confident he'll get it. Full Back has won the last two of his three starts over fences getting the better of Acey Milan in a three horse race by 31l in the first win and benefitting by a first fence fall by the favourite when romping home by 6l over 3m at Exeter. If Kaloki got his jumping together he would have a great chance. He jumped to the left on occasions at Kempton at Christmas before at bad mistake after which he weakened and was pulled up. It's a bit of a worry going right handed here as all of his best form over jumps has been on left handed. Hurricane Harvey won over 3m at Doncaaster in a grade 2 on his last start back in December on Goood to Soft. He beat Emitom a neck on his seasonal debut in October but was beaten a long way by Ga Law. He was third to McFabulous back in March which would give him a chance with Sevarano. He's won on soft so conditions shouldn't be a problem. Sevarano might be the one here.
Best Alternative; Hurricane Harvey
Ascot Chase (2m5f8y)
Just five going to post for this Grade 1. Cyrname has plenty in hand on ratings but the worry is his last run where he never got going and appeared to be in a sulk being eventually pulled up in the King George. Cheek Pieces are applied for the first time here and expect to see him race more forward on a course and distance where he ran up a hat trick in 2019. Cyrname's stablemate Master Tommytucker likes to make the running and is six from eight in completed starts. He can be a sloppy jumper at times. He does have a big engine and is interesting. Dashel Drasher is three from three around here and won his last two over course and distance. On his seasonal debut he was beaten 33l by Master Tommytucker but improved on that winning his two subsequent runs. He has a tendency to jump left. Bennys King was just over 1l behind Dashel Drasher at Ascot last month and prior to that won around here over 2m3f. This is a step up here. Riders Onthe Storm has been very disappointing on his two starts this season having won last year's renewal of this and is probably best watched. We'll give Cyrname another chance in the hope the cheek pieces will do their trick.
Best Alternative; Mater Tommytucker
Haydock (Soft, Heavy in places)
Rendelsham Hurdle (3m58y)
With more rain forecast it's likely the going could change to heavy all around Emitom won this on Heavy ground last season and revets to Hurdles after a couple of starts over fences. He's had a wind since those chases. On his penultimate start he ran Hurricane Harvey to a neck over 2m4f. He's attracted some support in the betting and his trainer expects him to be thereabouts despite having to carry a 6lb penalty this year. Itchy Feet also reverts to Hurdles. On his last two chase starts he was runner up to both Imperial Aura and Dashel Drasher. He has some top class novice hurdle form and he gets 6lb from Emitom. He's won on Heavy but it's his first time over this trip. On The Blind Side is another who has reverted to Hurdles and he seems to be enjoying it finishing just over 2l to McFabulous in early January and then a week later beating Lil Rockerfeller who was receiving 4lb by a neck. The ground won't be a problem. Having won nine on the trot the Main Fact bubble well and truly burst in the Long Walk Hurdle when he was 53l behind the winner. He's had a nine week break since and is a course a distance winner herewhen he beat Third Wind by 3l back in November getting 1lb from the runner up. The latter was over 14l behind the Long Walk winner when fancied by connections. He needs to find a bit here to be in contention. The Stayers Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar has been disappointing on his two starts since and has had a wind op having not run since November. I'd be hoping for an improvement from him. Ballyoptic has his first start over hurdles since October 2017 but has been disappointing over fences this season. While Donna's Fiamond, who won this in 2018 and was second here last year, seems to have gone backwards since. Slight preference for On The Blind Side.
Selection; On The Blind Side
Best Alternative; Itchy Feet
Prestige Novices Hurdle (3m58y)
Another war of attrition and the ground will be fairly well poached at this stage. Mint Condition is the highest rated in the race having won three of his four starts in Handicaps. He stepped up to Garded company for his last start and ran the useful Adrimel to a neck with a number of previous winners behind him. He steps up in trip for the first time but the Dam won over 3m and the sire's stay well. Alaphilipe won his point over 3m and his next three under rules including a maiden and a novices hurdle both over 2m4f. but was beaten three parts of a length at Taunton next time over 2m3f. If he stays the trip he could have a chance. Young Buck won his point over three mile and on his last start, his fourth under rules, he won over an extended 2m7f at Chepstow on Heavy. On his penultimate start over an extended 3m1f at Hereford he went down by almost 2l to Beatthebullet who is 6lb worse off here. The latter wears first time cheek pieces. Mr Harp will certainly get the trip and won't mind any more rain. However his form doesn't look as strong as some of the others. Exploiteur won handicaps at Chepstow and Ffos Las on Heavy over 2m7f and 2m6f respectively. However he was well beaten by The Cob at Doncaster in a Grade 2. . He's also held by Mint Condition having finished 3l behind him when receiving 2lb at Bangor over 2m3f in October. Tupelo Mississipi won over 2m4f on Heavy at Uttoxeter on his penultimate start and was staying on when making a mistake at the last and went third on run in to suggest he appreciate stepping up from that extended 2m5f trip. He's prone to the odd error but they will be goinfg pretty steady here which should help.The 11yo Late Romantic has a first preference for Wincanton but won over 3m1f in a chase here in December. This would be his first start over hurdles since April 2018. Le Cheval Noir looks held on a couple of bits of form but has won on heavy. This is not a race to get heavily involved in with some unknown factors to be careful of. Mint Condition might be good enough.
Selection; Mint Condition
Best Alternative; Mr Harp (EW)
Sandown (Going; Heavy)
Jane Seymour Mares' Novice Hurdle (2m3f173)
Eight runners go for this Grade 2 and only two of them are rated 130 or more. In the six runings of the race no horse under 132 has won it. This years running doesn't appear to have a lot of depth and the early betting reflects that with the top rated Little River Bay a strong favourite. She's had just the five starts winning the last three, the last over an extended 2m4f on Heavy ground. Rayna's World is next best rated on 130. She was a 15l third to Concertista in the Grade 2 at Cheltenham last March but her only win in five starts since came over 2m4f at Hexham on Soft ground. She was runner up in three of them but bombed out last time at Doncaster tailed off a 46l sixth of six in a Mares Grade 2. Misty Whisky won her first two starts of the season before finishing second in the Lanzarote off a light weight. She has 8lb to find with the favourite. Sandymount Rose drops back in trip having won her last two starts over 3m and 2m7f. She'll handle the ground and the uphill finish should help when others are crying enough. Little Mo travels a long way down from the Borders. She's won her two starts under rules the latest by 11l last month. She had a wind op after that and wears a tongue tie. Both thiose wins were over 2m and on Soft and Heavy ground but her trainer thinks the trip won't be a problem. Belle De Manech beat a subsequent winner at Wincanton at Chistmas over 2m and was then runner up over 2m1f at Fontwell last month. Ratings suggest she's a bit to find. Having finished down the field in a couple of hurdle races, Uptown Lady had a wind op and while she might have been fortunate to win when the one in front fell at the last she did finish 14l ahead of the next finisher over 2m4f on heavy. Anythingforlove won two Bumpers and a couple of Novice Hurdles from five starts before finishing down the fiels in a Grade 2 at Haydock last month. Has a bit to find on ratings. There could be a few surprises in this race and indeed in the Racing Post there are 16 tips spread across six of the runners. I'll stick with the top rated Little River Bay and maybe UptownLady might appeal as best alternative each way.
Selection; Little River Bay
Best Alternative; Uptown Lady (EW)
Warwick (Going; Soft)
Kingmaker Novices Chase (2m54y)
Just four go to post for this re-arranged Grade 2. Allmankind has had this race as a target for a long time and was a course and distance winner back in November, cruising and going clear to win in a canter by 13l with the runner up winning at Newbury next time out. Allmankind then followed up with a win in a Grade 1 at Sandown beating the useful Hitman by over 2l. Sky Pirate steps out of handicap company having won a handicap around this course and distance carrying top weight which got him a 7lb rise in the ratings which puts him within 2lb of Allmankind who has to concede 3lb. Cheddleton has won his last two starts impressively giving Cornerstone Lad 9lb and a 6l beating at Haydock. Sacre Coeur won her last two starts in France over fences but unseated on her only start for current connections. Allmankind is pretty short but might have enough to win.
Best Alternative; Cheddleton
Leopardstown (Going; Chase-Soft, Yielding in places. Hurdle-Soft, Soft to heavy in places)
Spring Juvenile Hurdle (2m)
I've a note next to Quilixios in my tracker that says, "no telling how good he is having sluiced in on both runs in Ireland and one in France" and that about sums it up. He might not have beaten much, although there were a couple of previous winners in the field, but it was the manner in which he did it. Youmdor had plenty of experience on the flat in France with Freddie Head winning two of his eight starts, the last one back in May. He arrived at the Mullins yard over the summer and got off to an impressive start winning a Gowran Maiden Hurdle by 16l. He then went to Fairyhouse, ran a bit keenly, then travelled beautifully between the last two to go upsides with Teahupoo but stepped into the last , a real novice mistake, and tipped up. That would be a worry for me and it's just three weeks since that fall but he wears a hood for the first time which should help him settle. Saint Sam won two Hurdle races in France before coming to Ireland buy on his two runs here he was no match for Zanahiyr, stablemate of Quilixios, beaten 14l and 6l. He looks second choice of the Mullins team. Busselton won once from two starts over hurdles in France lasts season and in his only start for Joseph O'Brien was almost 4l second to Zanahiyr at Leopardstown last month. He should improve for that run and he should improve for it. Ha D'or was another 2l back from Busselton at Christmas on only his second start and first since arriving from France. He looks third choice for the Mullins yard. It's hard to see Varna Gold turning over a 20l defeat with Quilixios. With all the Juvenile talent at his disposal it's noteworthy that Gordon Elliott relies on Quilixios for this nice pot. The fall of Youmdor when upsides the last day is a worry for me so Quilixios shades it.
Best Alternative; Youmdor
Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle (2m)
Appreciate It is a warm order for this Grade 1. Second to Ferny Hollow in the Champion Bumper last March he reappeared at Cork in November and ran out a comfortable 2l winner from Master McShee who has won his subsequent two starts. Appreciate It then came here at Christmas and over this trip was a comfortable 9l winner over Irascible with with Ballyadam another 8l back in fourth. There may have been excuses for the latter as a lot of Elliott's horses scoped dirty after this meeting. The latter had beaten Cask Mate in the Royal Bond on his previous start. Blue Lord raced keenly over 2m4f at Naas so the drop back in trip might suit but he looks down the pecking order for Willie Mullins. Cask Mate won a Novice Hurdle by 10l over 2m4f so this might be a bit sharp and while anything is possible in jumps racing it's hard to see anything else winning it. Appreciate It can live up to the hype while Master McFee might appeal to each way backers.
Selection; Appreciate It
Best Alternative; Master McFee (EW)
Flogas Novice Chase (2m5f93y)
Having given us a good battle here at Christmas Monkfish and Latest Exhibition do battle again albeit over the shorter trip of the extended 2m5f. Monkfish is unbeaten in his last five starts including that 3l defeat of Latest Exhibition the last day where they raced up the straight and jumped the last together with Monkfish finding a bit more on the run to the line. Latest Exhibition wears a first time tongue tie. Andy Dufresne has won his two starts over fences, the latest a Grade 3 where he beat Embittered by 3l over 2m1f. He won his maiden hurdle over 2m4f so the step up in trip should be ok. Asterion Forlonge is on a recovery mission having fallen on his last two starts. Also going left handed is a big negative. Jandil was disappointing in the Limerick big at Christmas and should appreciate the better ground here although he's well held on the Albert Bartlett form. It's hard to see any of the others getting involved. I'm hoping that the weather forecast is right and that the ground dries out which will give Latest Exhibition, who won over this trip here at last years Dublin Festival, a chance to turn the Tables on Monkfish.
Selection; Latest Exhibition
Best Alternative; Monkfish
Irish Gold Cup (3m107y)
Only five go to post for this Grade 1 but it could be a classic of a race. Having been run out of it by Champ in the RSA at Cheltenham, Minella Indo resumed in October with a facile win in a Grade 3 at Wexford and followed up winning the Garde 2 by 7l at Navan the following month. He was going along nicely when falling at the eight fence in the Savills at Christmas. He's reported to have schooled well since . Kemboy was beaten over 1l in this last year by Delta Work and has a good record around here. He has a good record around here and was was beaten half a length in the Savills at Christmas. The Downside is he hasn't won since May 2019 albeit he's only had the five starts and been second three times. Delta Work unseated Jack Kennedy in the Savills and given a clear round will be in the shake up. Melon was a 2l third in the Savills and connections are considering a change of tactics which they think will bring out an improvement. The Storyteller seems to have found a new lease of life having won the Grade 1 at Down Royal last October and then running a huge race in the Grade 1 stayers hurdle here at Christmas when second to Flooring Porter. In a wide open contest I'll take a chance with Melon
Best Alternative; Kemboy
Mares INH Flat Race
Eleven horse, all previous winners, go to post for this Grade 2. Brandy Love won her point unextended by 8l at Cragmore last February after which she changed hands for £200k. She reappeared at Fairyhouse in December and coasted home in a Mares Bumper by 7l without ever coming off the Bridle. Take Tea won her only start in the Colours of Jackie Mullins by a very easy 11l at Naas in December. She runs here in the colurs of J.P. McManus with Doc O'Connor doing the steering. Hollymount was another to have a comfortable win when running out an 8l winner at Carlisle for the Crawfords. She's a half sister to Malone Road and Ravenhill Road and changed hands twelve days ago for €300k and is now withn Gordon Elliott. Brooklynn Glory was an impressive winner at Listowel last September and then carried a penalty to a 17l success at Cork beating a previous winner. Looks third choice of the Mullins team. Two other Mullins runners, Purple Mountain and Grangee, have been drifting in the betting despite having decent form. It's interesting that Jamie Codd picks Party Central over Hollymount. He won on it when trained by Roger McGrath after which it changed hands to the connections of Hollymount and followed up with a second place behind Castra Vetera at Navan in November her only other start. Brandy Love's victory at Fairyhouse reminded me of Kilcruit today and she might repeat that here.
Selection; Brandy Love
Bdest Alternative; Take Tea
What a weekend of racing we have in store and while Wetherby and Sandown face inspections no such problems are envisaged at Leopardstown for the Dublin Racing Festival where we have Four Grade 1's and a Grade 2 on Saturday and a similar amount on Sunday.
Leopardstown Going; Hurdles; Soft. Chase; Yielding to Soft.)
Nathaniel Lacy Novice Hurdle (2m6f33y)
Thirteen runners make this a bit of a puzzle. The Willie Mullins trained Gaillard Du Mesnil, who wears a first time hood, heads the market having impressed over 2m4f here at Christmas where he ran out a very easy winner from Mr Incredible who beat Glens Of Antrim by over 4l at Naas last weekend with the two pulling over 30l clear of the rest. Prior to that win Gaillard Du Mesnil had run up four seconds, three in French Bumpers and on his Irish debut going down by 8l to Holymacapony on his first start in nearly thirteen months and tiring between the last two. Holymacapony was very disappointing next time out where he according to his jockey he got very tired and stopped quickly and was pulled up before the last. Nothing showed up afterwards so connections will be hoping for better here. the favourites stablemate Stattler beat Glens Of Antrim around here over 2m4f at Christmas having been beaten over 2l by Vanillier over 2m3f at Naas when an odds on favourite. Having his first run in over thirteen months having arrived from France, Cape Gentleman showed promise when second to Mt Leinster over 1m6f at Listowel before winning the Cesarawithch at the Curragh in October. He then went over hurdles at Punchestown early December beating Petibonome by an easy 2l. Ashdale Bob broke his duck at the fourth attempt when beating Wide Receiver at Navan and caused a surprise at the same track next time winning a Grade 2 impressively at 14/1. However he fell at the second at Naas next time in mid January. Gentlemansgame could be anything. He won his point going clear by 5l and was bought subsequently for €250k and on his next and only start since he ran out an eased up 25l winner of a 2m Maiden Hurdle at Cork where it's hard to know if he beat much. However the style in which he won was hugely impressive. Having won twice following three seconds Fakiera was beaten 6l by Ashdale Bob in the Navan Grade 2 giving the winner 3lb. Back off level weights here and with first time cheekpieces connections will be hoping for better. Kalkas was well beaten on his stable debut at Navan over 2m4f in December but won over 2m at Limerick over Christmas on his only other start. This is a big step up. Vanillier is consistent and won over 2m4f at Naas in November before going down by three parts of a length in a slog over 2m7f in Heavy ground at Limerick at Christmas. Ganapathi wasa 3l second to Dreal Deal over 2m at Punchestown last month and this step up in trip is interesting. Jockey bookings suggest he's down the Mullins pecking order. Shadow Rider wears a hood for the first time. Beaten over 3l by Ashdale Bob in a Navan Maiden he won his Maiden at Limerick in December but the second was well beaten since. Baptism Of Fire was never travelling at Limerick and pulled up to out. Prior to that he had finished 6l behind Fury Road when in receipt of 9lb but did beat Wide Receiver on his Hurdles debut. Fun Light looks to have it all to do. Gaillard Du Mesnil is a strong favourite in the books and there's probably each way value in Cape Gentleman and Gentlemansgame and while Willie Mullins hasn't won the last three renewals he did win the six before that and the favourite could oblige here,
Selection; Gaillard Du Mesnil
Best Alternative; Gentlemansgame (EW)
Dublin Chase (2m1f57y)
Chacun Pour Soi is Timeform's highest rated chaser. He won this last year with Min nearly 4l back in second and history could repeat itself here.The latter probably needs further than this to be seen at his beat these days. Notebook was over 6l behind Chacun Pour Soi here at Christmas. Notebook had beaten Fakir D'oudairies at Naas by 12l in Novemner and the latter doesn't look like the horse that won the Drinmore in December 2019. The trip looks a bit sharp for Tornado Flyer while Sizing Pottsie fell last time having beaten Entoucas 6l previously.
Selection; Chacun Pour Soi
Best Alternative; Notebook
Arkle Novice Chase (2m1f57y)
This is a fascinating renewal of this race. Energumene has put up two terrific performances on his two starts over fences. Making all to win by 18l at Gowran in November before impressing when beating Captain Guinness by over 8l at Naas last month. The latter had some decent hurdles form but pulled up on his chase debut where the vet found him clinically abnormal post race. He made amends next time winning at Punchestown with the first two pulling well clear. Unexcepted is a half brother to Great Field. he had just one run in France before he was bought for €200k. He beat Jason The Militant on Hurdles debut before a 22l second to Easywork over 2m4f. He then ran in the Handicap hurdle at Last years Dublin Festival but stopped quickly and was pulled up. He didn't reappear until October when he beat Entoucas by 8l on his Chase debut. He hasn't been seen since which is a bit of a concern. Darver Star put up a career best when going down by half a length to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle here last year. He got his chase career of to a winning start at Punchestown in October but was beaten almost 10l by Felix Desjy in a Grade 2 at the same track in November before finishing over 4l behind Franco De Port here at Christmas. The latter had won his only other chase start at Thurles in November. Felix Desjy was beaten into third in that Christmas Grade 2 having set a strong gallop but slowed right down going to the sixth last fence. Embittered was 21l behind Franco De Port at Christmas and looks held. Blackbow fell early in that Christmas Grade 2 and it looked to my eye that he wasn't knocked about when a 28l third of four to Energumene at Naas next time which should have restored a bit of confidence. However I'm surprised they are persisting with him over 2m as he won his point at 2m4f and won twice in Bumpers at 2m suggesting he would get further over jumps. Energumene has been impressive and gets the nod.
Best Alternative; Darver Star (EW)
Champion Hurdle (2m)
Winner of all her ten starts Honeysuckle is here to defend her crown she won in last year's renewal. She was awkward at the last and Petite Mouchoir went half a length up but the mare battled back to beat the the flying Darver Star half a length and the same distance to Petite Mouchoir in third with Sharjah fading into sixth having found nothing when ridden going to the last. The mare went on to win the Mares Grade 1 at Cheltenham and was off then until November when beating Ronald Pump by Half a length in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse. This is her first run since then but she followed the same path last year. Sharjah went on to put in a much better effort in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham finishing a 3l second to Epatante. He had a couple of spins on the flat over the summer before winning around here at Christmas in the Grade 1 Matheson Hurdle beating Aspire Tower by a comfortable 2l with Petite Mouchoir a further 3l back in third followed by Saint Roi, Abracadabras 24l back and Saldier, who was having his first run in thirteen months, racing keenly and dropping away and been eased when weakening approaching the last. That was a second disappointing run from Saint Roi following his impressive Tipperary win. Abracadabras was found to have mucus in his trachea post race but they're persisting with the tongue tie he wore for the first time there. Saldier should come on a good bit for that run but he's obviously had problems as that was only his third run since Novemeber 2018. Hopefully the light rain forecast won't change the going as I think Sharjah might have a chance as long as it remains soft and not heavy
Best Alternative; Honeysuckle
Goffs Future Stars INH Flat Race (2m)
The Grade 2 Bumper is a tricky enough affair with the bookies installing the Willie Mullins trained Kilcruit the favourite. He was beaten 4l by Captain Kangaroo on debut but improved for that and was a 9l winner at Navan in December. The difficulty in reading Bumper form is illustrated here because the second and third reversed places next time at Leopardstown finishing first and fifth. It was a stylish performance by Kilcruit who quickened in eye catching fashion. Chemical Energy represents Gordon Elliott and has won his two starts effortlessly. He was the easy 10l winner of a Bumper in Roscommon last September and then beat On Eagles Wings at Down Royal in October with the runner up winning his maiden hurdle next time by over 2l from Captain Kangaroo. Ramillies is the second Mullins runner. He won a point in England in March 2019 and was bought for £215k. He reappeared in December that year in a Leopardstown Bumper but was well beaten when 13l behind Risk Factor. He was left off until Christmas 2020 when he readily accounted for Tucson Train by 10l but the form of that race doesn't look particularly strong. Noble Yeats was a sensational winner of a Gowran Bumper ten days ago winning by 19l. The second and third had some decent Point form. Prior to that Noble Yeats had disappointed when favourite at Limerick in what was a slow run race. Letsbeclearaboutit beat Enniskerry in his first two Bumpers but had to play second fiddle to Sir Gerhard last December. The winner is 5/2 for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham so the 7/1 on offer here for Letsbeclearaboutit might appeal to each way backers although he has to give 3lb to most of his rivals. Kilcruit seems to be the pick of the Mullins trio if Jockey bookings are a sign while Noble Yeats is backing up pretty quickly. Chemical Energy has to give 2lb to Kilcruit which just swings it in favour of the Mullins horse.
Best Alternative; Chemical Energy
Wetherby (Going; Heavy)
Inspection at 8am
Cleeve Hurdle (3m)
Itchy Feet reverts to Hurdling having done really well in six starts over fences wiining twice and placed three times . However this is his first strat at this trip. He had some very good novice hurdle form and the conditions of this race mean he receives weight from a couple of his main rivals. On The Blind Side has impressed in four runs this season with two wins either side of two seconds. On his penultimate start he was beaten just over 2l by McFabulous and then beat Lil Rockerfeller a neck over 2m7f on Heavy at Market Rasen. Main Fact won nine on the trot from December 2019 to November 2020 before his bubble burst at Ascot in the Long Walk Hurdle where he was beaten over 52l. Market moves should be noted. Third Wind was 15l behind Pasley Park in the Long Walk and had beeen 2l behind Main Fact the time before. Ask Dillon is another with a bit to find on ratings and hasn't won since April 2019. Ballyoptic hasn't shown much in three starts this season having won three of his five starts the previous one. He's a bit inconsistent and others are prefaired. Ramses De Teillee has had two heavy defeats since beating Yala Enki at Cheltenham in November while Lake View Lad holds an entry at Sandown which is his firat preference. Portrush Ted pulled up in he Long Walk after getting tailed off. I'll take a chance with On The Blind Side.
Selection; On The Blind Side
Best Alternative; Itchy Feet
Sandown (Going; Heavy, Soft in places)
Scilly Isles Chase (2m4f10y)
This looks an exciting contest with some cracking Novices involved. Hitman has had just two starts since arriving form France. He sluiced up by 30l on Chase debut in November and then went down by over 2l to Allmankind and steps up in trip for the first time. He gets 3lb from Shan Blue who has won his three starts over fences this season in impressive fashion. His last two were over 3m but his first was over an extended 2m3f at Wetherby. He's a super jumper and I think he is a main player. After a long lay off Messire Des Obeaux is starting to ulfill the promise he showed back in his Novice days when winning the Challow Hurdle. He's won his last two starts in nice fashion the latter a Grade 2 where he beat Protektorat. This is a step up again and he's not without a chance. Dame De Compagnie has had just one run over the larger obstacles winning a two horserace at Ayr. Her jumping will be put to the test here on what can be a tricky run of fences down the railway side. Sporting John has lost his way a bit and connections have been unable to find anything amiss. He's best watched. Slight preference is for Shan Blue with Messire Des Obeaux the danger.
Selection; Shan Blue
Best Alternative; Messire Des Obeaux
Cotswold Chase (3m37y)
Just six go to post for this rescheduled race from Cheltenham and it will be a real test. Bristol De Mai will love the testing conditions. On his only start this season he beat Clan Des Obeaux in the Betfair at Haydock. He has won around here in his novice chase days which is a plus. Santini was beaten on seasonal debut but that race was a bit of a farce with three fences in the Aintree straight omitted on all circuits and then found the going to quick in the King George. I've a suspicion he'll be minded here with a view to Cheltenham as in the words of his trainer "this probably isn't the ideal time to have a dust up". Native River was third in that Aintree farce which was his first start since February. The Tizzard horses are starting to show a bit of form again and Joe Tizzard was very positive when interviewed the other day. Saint Calvados acts on heavy ground and appears to have settled better in his races having been held up on latest start. If he stays he might have a sniff getting 6lb form the above three. Yala Enki had two hard races over fourteen days in January at extreme distances, an extended 3m6f at Chepstow where he was third and an extended 3m4f at Taunton which he won just fourteen days ago. This is also a big step up in class. Lake View Lad is 6lb worse off with Santini and Native River and it's hard to see him repeating that win.
Selection; Bristol De Mai
Best Alternative; Native River
Doncaster (Going; Soft)
Lightning Novices' Chase (2m78y)
Just five runners and on the face of it Shishkin just needs a clear round to win. Unbeaten in his two starts over fences, both won by wide margins, he's already an odds on favourite for the Arkle Chase the Cheltenham Festival. Cheddleton is rated 13lb behind the favourite and gets 5lb from him. He ran a decent enough race behind Gumball on his chase debut and then won his next two, beating Heartbreak Kid by over 9l at carlisle and on his latest start beating Cornerstone Lad by 6l on Heavy ground giving the runner up 9lb, a result that got him an 11lb rise in the ratings. Having won his first two starts over fences Eldorado Allen then went to Sandown for a Grade 1 but ran poorly and finished 14l down. The Tizzard horses haven't been firing this season so he's probably best watched. Est Illic beat Fast Buck by ahead around here last month getting 19lb. but both have it all to do here. Shishkin bar a disaster.
Best Alternative; Cheddleton
Yorkshire Rose Mares' Hurdle (2m128y)
Six runners and a tricky contest for this Grade 2 with Nicky Henderson's two runners heading the betting. Floressa is currently favourite and is the choice of Nico de Boinville. Her four wins have come on Good and Good to Soft including a couple of Listed Mares. However she was beaten 23l in the Mares Grade 2 at Cheltenham on Soft. Marie's Rock ran up a hat trick in a Bumper and two hurdle's the latter two on a soft surface. She missed Cheltenham due to a stress fracture and was off for eleven months before returning at Newbury last November, her first run back after a wind op, going of favourite but finished over 7l behind Floressa. She was badly hampered at the second last that day when making a challenge. She wears a first time hood and tongue tie. Miranda has plenty of experience having had eight starts over the hurdles winning four of them. She is stepping up from Handicap company but is entitled to off her mark of 143 which is the same as Floressa who has to give her 4lb. However she was a bit disappointing at Musselborough on New Year's Day having got a 7lb penalty for winning half length at Ludlow. Irish Roe and Rayna's World have it all to do on ratings. I'm prepared to forgive Marie's Rock her last run and think that she has further room for improvement and gets the selection.
Selection; Marie's Rock
Best Alternative; Miranda
River Don Novices' Hurdle (3m84y)
Twelve runners go to post for this Grade 2 which will be a real test of stamina and it looks an open contest. Emir Sacree is a 7yo is a three parts brother to Sprinter Sacre being by Network out of a half sister to the great horse. He's had just the one run since coming from France where he was chasing. He won his British debut in an Ascot Handicap last Month in a first time hood off a mark of 125 beating Castle Robin just over a1l. The latter is 11lb better off here.He should improve for that run which was his first since March 2019. Pat's Fancy won his Maiden at the first attempt at Ffos Las in November and the runner up, Gladiateur Allen beat the well regarded Valleres two runs later over 2m5f at Ascot. Pat's Fancy then was a 7l second in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham over 3m on Soft last Month with Ask A Honey Bee over 1l behind in third and Ashtown Lad a further 9l back in fifth. The latter had won his two starts before that Grade 2 and prior to those wins was beaten a neck by Ask A Honey Bee. Bobhopeornohope has won his only two starts over hurdles having been unsuccessful in two Bumpers and winning his only point. On his first hurdle win he had Ask A Honey Bee almost 2l back in second when in receipt of 6lb. They meet on level terms here. He looks a progressive type who won around here over 2m5f last time. He won his point over 3m but this his his first go at the distance on the track. Exploiteur has won twice and been placed, all in handicap company, since stepping up in trip. His two wins came on Heavy and he could appeal to Each Way backers. Shan Tang has fallen and Pulled Up last two starts and steps up in trip for the first time. He raced very freely when pulling up so is probably best watched while Fern Hill has won two of his three hurdle starts and could be improving stepping up to this trip for the first time. A wide open race and it will come down to who can handle the conditions and the track and I think Pats Fancy could be the one.
Selection; Pats Fancy
Best Alternative; Ask A Honey Bee
Gowran Park (Going; Heavy)
Galmoy Hurdle (3m)
With around 8mm of rain to fall overnight on already Heavy ground, conditions for this 3m Hurdle could well be arduous and it won't be a day for the faint hearted. Willie Mullins has four of the ten runners declared and Great White Shark is a clear favourite on the tissue. She was last seen at Newmarket last October winning the Cesarewitch on Soft ground. Prior to that she appeared twice at Galway over four days beaten just over 2l by Princess Zoe in a Flat Handicapand then winning a valuable Handicap hurdle over 2m7f on Soft from My Sister Sarah. She gets a valuable 7lb mares allowance. Sixshooter has had just the two starts this season, beating Kilfenora at Punchestown in October over an extended 2m2f with both of them goinf at it a long way out suggesting they could stay further. He then finished third in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan when he was caught for a bit of toe after the last over 2m4f on Soft to Heavy. Darasso has had two starts over fences this season finishing a 19l runner up behind Chacun Pour Soi in The hilly Way at Cork last month and last of four behind Presenting Percy in November at Thurles. He won around here over 2m in February 2019 and followed up winning a Grade 2 at Navan over the same trip. Last season he was second to Cilaos Emery over 2m here on Heavy, beaten over 9l. He steps up to 3m for the first time. Diol Ker beat Born To Sea by a neck at Limerick on Heavy Ground at Christmas over 2m 4f getting up late. He had three runs over fences before that but didn't seem to take to it. In November 2019 he beat Monkfish 7l into second place on Heavy Ground at Fairyhouse over 2m4f. That was the latter's first start over hurdles compared to Diol Ker's third but both were coming back from long breaks. Diol Ker won his point, over 3m, at the third attempt having fallen on the second and going down to Sams Profile by 2l on the first, the latter over 2m4f. He wears first time cheekpieces. Sams Profile wears a hood for the first time. He was beaten over 11l by Monkfish over fences last November having fallen the time before that. On his previous start, back in May 2019 at Punchestown he had run Reserve Tank to a half length in a Grade 1 over 2m4f. Back in December 2018nhe finished a 4l second to Derrinross on Soft to Heavy over 3m. The 2019 Irish National winner, Burrows Saint was beaten 45l by Mary Frances last month whih was his first start in almost a year. On ratings he would have a great chance but jockey bookings suggest he's the Mullins third/fourth choice. He wears a first time hood. Bacardys wears a first time tongue tie having pulled up a Christmas behind Flooring Porter following a good run in the Hattons Grace where he was a 4l fourth to Honeysuckle. He has winning form on Heavy but again, jockey bookings suggest he's behind a couple of Stablemates. Having said that it wouldn't be the first time a Mullins favourite got turned over by a stablemate. The aforementioned Kilfenora had a couple of wins in Handicap company either side of Christmas 2019 over 2m4f and 2m 5f. She has won over 3m on Soft to Heavy and goes well after a break. Having beaten Peregrine Run in March 2019, Scarpeta wasn't seen agian until last December at Clonmel when beaten 118l by Mary Frances on Heavy ground. He showed a big improvement four weeks later finishing just over 6l back in second behind Bachasson at Punchestown. He won at this meeting three years ago in a 2m Maiden Hurdle on Heavy ground. Following that Clonmel win, Mary Frances was beaten 33l over 2m4f at Leopardstown in a Grade 3 Mares. This follows last seasons pattern where she ran well at Clonmel, was well beaten at Leopardstown before finishing 58l behind Benie Des Dieux in this race. With conditions likely to be attritional it's probably not a race to get too involved in but i think a half point each way on Diol Ker might be rewarding. He's available at 9/1 with Bet 365.
Selection; Diol Ker
Best Alternative; Bacardy's (E.W.)
Thurles (Going; Soft To Heavy)
Coolmore Mares Novice Chase (2m4f48y)
Ten due to go to post for this Grade 2 and Colreevy is odds on favourite to follow up her Grade 1 success at Limerick over Christmas for which she carries a 7lb penalty. Some could argue she was lucky benefitting form the fall of stablemate Asterion Forlonge but she made a terrible mistake herself at the second last and did well to recover. Prior to that run she had run out a facile 15l winner of a novice at Punchestown. One note of caution is that Willie Mullins is concerned it's a but soon after Limerick (29 days). Mount Ida gets 4lb from Colreevy but she was beaten over this trip at Navan last time having won well over 2m at Cork previously where she beat Scarlet And Dove who re-opposes here. Then latter went on to win a Mares chase at Limerick over Christmas at an extended 2m3f. On her chase debut in November she went down by over 3l to Yukon Lil who herself was beaten nest time by Fils D'oudairies over 2m4f at Navan. Western Victory has some useful hurdling form and won on her Chasing debut in a Mares Chase but was subsequently beaten 10l by Shattered Love in a Listed Mares in November. Rapid Response was kept busy over the summer winning once and runner up four times before finishing down the field at Cork in November. She returned after a short break last month but was beaten 41l in a Handicap Hurdle. Her best form is probably on Good or Yielding. The rest will require a lot of luck to figure. I'll stick with Colreevy despite the short price with Mount Ida the danger.
Best Alternative; Mount Ida
Horse and Jockey Hotel Chase (2m4f48)
I saw Ruby Walsh during the week put up Alloha for the Marsh Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. We don't really know what happened at Punchestown in the fog where apparently he jumped poorly. That was his first start since Cheltenham where he made a number of jumping errors and had no extra at the finish and that was the same story after Punchestown at Leopardstown in the Savills (3m) where he had no extra and seemed not to stay. His two runs before Cheltenham are probably key, both over 2m5f, going down by 1l to Easy Game at Leopardstown and winning by 21l beaten a 138 rated opponent. Battleoverdoyen has the same rating as Alloha (160) but has to conced him 7lb. He beat Easy Game by 6l in the grade 2 at Down Royal over 2m3f last October. He had run up a hat trick at the end of 2019 before falling when weakening at Leopardstown. He was 23l behind Min in the John Durkin. Annamix looks second choice of the Mullins runners. Having won over 2m4f at Gowran in November he failed to shine when dropped back in trip at Leopardstown last month and has a few lengths to find on ratings. Easy Game probably needs better ground with his best form coming with Godd or Yielding in the description. Elimay has her first start over femces this season having gone down by a nose in a Listed Mares in November. On her penultimate start she won over Course and Distance last January in a Grade 2 Mares. Bako Des Flos wears first time cheekpieces to try and rejuvenate him as he hasn't won since the Ryanair at Cheltenham in 2018. The drop back in trip might help also. Slight preference for Alloha to beat Annamix
Best Alternative; Annamix
Ascot (Going; Soft, Heavy in places)
The Warefield Mares Hurdle (2m7f118y)
With showers forecast I can't see conditions improving before racing and with the Going Stick on the Hurdle course reading 4.7 it's going to be a test for the five runners declared particularly with a frost coming out of the ground. Magic Of Light was a comfortable winner of this last year and has had a couple of runs in preparation for this years renewal, being well beaten at Punchestown in November over 2m3f which is an inadequate trip for her and then going to Newbury where she beat Sensulano by 8l on Soft ground over this trip which was twice the distance she beat the latter here last year. Roksana is another who has had a two run preparation for this. She started off in October winning a Grade 2 at Wetherby beating Next Destination, who probably needed it after a long absence, by over 8l. She then went to Ascot for the Grade 1 Long Walk and with the benefit of a 7lb Mares allowance put up terrific effort to finish a 2l third behind Paisley Park and Thyme Hill. Eglantine Du Seuil joined Paul Nicholls fro Willie Mullins over the summer and had a wind op before appearing at Wincanton last November and finishing 9l back in fifth behind The White Mouse over 2m5f and then finished 28l behind Benson over 2m in a listed mares hurdle. She then made her Chase debut at Cheltenham last month and but for pecking at the last might have done better than a 2l second to The White Mouse. This is her first time to step up to this trip. It's hard to see anything else figuring and slight preference is for Roksana.
Best Alternative; Magic Of Light
Clarence House Novice Chase (2m167y)
Eight go to post for this Grade 1 with the Ground on the Chase course slightly better than the Hurdles as I write. Defi Du Seuil won this last year but next time out a t Cheltenham was well beaten by Politologue and then on his reappearance last November he weakened before two out and pulled before the last. Richard Johnson said afterwards that he stopped very quickly. Politologue had been beaten twice by Defi Du Seuil in the Autumn of 2019 but having had a break from early December until the Cheltenham Festival he ran out a convincing winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase where Defi Du Seuil was never travelling. He then reappeared in the Tingle Creek last month where he looked a class above when running out a 7l winner. Waiting Patiently was second in the Tingle Creek to Defi Du Seuil, beaten 1l, in December 2019 but wasn't seen again until last Decembeer when chasing home Frodon in the King George. He's now a 10yo and the 2m might be a bit sharp at this stage but the Ground could bring his stamina into play. Duc De Genievres moved from Mullins to Nicholls over the summer and also had a wind op. Beaten just over 1l to Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham in November he was a well beaten third, over 8l, to Nube Negra at Kempton over Christmas. He hasn't won since the Arkle in March 2019. Fanion D'Estruval had won three times in France, twice over fences, before joining Venetia Williams and continued the run on debut for that stable winning impressively at Newbury in November 2019. He wasn't disgraced next time in the Grade 2 Wayward Lad at Kempton. He reappeared at Cheltenham last November just going down by 2l to Magic Saint. However he fell at the same track last time when going well three out over 2m4f. He's only a 6yo so there should still be plenty of improvement. First Flow is on a six timer having run up five wins in handicap company and gone up 15lb in the ratings. He still has a fair bit to find but is a course and distance winner and acts on the ground. Bun Doran seems to have lost his form and is well held by Politolouge on the Champion Chase form. Le Patriote looks to have it all to do. Politologue could be short enough but with question marks hanging over most of his rivals he gets the nod.
Best Alternative; Defi Du Seuil
Haydock (Going; Heavy)
Precautionary Inspection 8am
The Altcar Novices Chase (2m3f203y)
Just five declared for this Grade 2 and Allart will probably be a short priced favourite following his impressive win on his first and only start over fences showing a nice turn of speed on Soft ground to beat Fiddlerontheroof readily over 2m3f at Ascot last month. Silver Hallmark has had just the one start this summer when finishing a Head behind Fiddlerontheroof at Exeter last November on Good to Soft. He won on soft at Chepstow back in November 2019 when beating Mc Fabuloius in a Maiden Hurdle at Chepstow. Marown won over the extended 2m4f at Ayr on Heavy ground last month with the runner up hosing in by 10l over 3m1f next time. Empire Steel won on Chase debut over 2m4f at Ayr last October but was a beaten favourite on his next and last Start over 3m at the same track in November on heavy ground. It's hard to oppose Allart provided he handles the ground.
Best Alternative; Marown
Rossington Main Novices Hurdle (1m7f144y)
Five go to post for this Grade 2 and Llandinabo Lad is the highest rated horse in the field and the early favourite. He had three runs in Bumpers and the first caught my eye when beaten just 5l by Chantry House in March 2019. He then finished second to Where's Tom ahead of Third Time Lucki and Highway One O Two who are multiple winners and highly rated. He was second again on his third start in November 2019. He was off for eleven months having had a wind op in the interim and resumed by beating Minella Drama by over 5l at Bangor before beating Do Your Job around this course and distance last November. On his third and final start over hurdles he finished second, almost 3l behind the winner My Drago in a Grade 2 at Ascot. Minella Drama came out after the above mentioned Bangor race and went to Sedgefield and hosed in by 11l and followed up at Bangor last month beating subsequent winner Ballybeg by 12l on Heavy ground. He gets 5lb from Llandinabo Lad which leaves him 10lb better off for that Bangor defeat. Nada To Prada gets the Mares allowance. She's done nothing wrong so far winning her point, bumper and two of her three hurdles both on heavy ground the latter over 2m3f. This might be a bit short for her but conditions should bring her stamina into play. Faivoir is two from four over hurdles and while the form of her Maiden has thrown up a few winners, on ratings she has a bit to find. The Mare Anythingforlove has a bit to find on ratings but has won on Heavy ground. There are a few little sub plots here but Llandinabo Lad's form is impressive and he might just be able to give the weight away.
Selection; Llandinabo Lad
Best Alternative; Minella Drama
Peter Marsh Handicap Chase (3m1f125y)
This will be an endurance test in this ground and looking back over the last ten years there will probably be more non finishers than those who do. Another statistic to consider is that in the last ten years only two horses have carried more than 11st to victory both carrying 11st2lb. Surprisingly top weight Royale Pagaille, who carries 11st10lb, won around her over an extended 2m5f on Heavy ground back in early December and followed up winning a Handicap chase at Kempton at the end of December. He was given a 16lb hike for that Kempton win and it remains to be seen if the Handicapper got it right. Sam Brown carries 11-6 and wears a first time tongue tie and won around here over 2m4f on this card last year. He was third, beaten 3l, by Imperial Aura over 2m4f at Carlisle on Heavy ground back in November , his only start this season. Sam's Adventure was well beaten over course and distance here in November and returned in December to win over the same trip for which he got a 6lb hike. Acey Milan has a light weight and has decent form around here in a Grade 3 Hurdle back in November 2019. He was a disappointing odds on favourite last time at Plumpton which is a worry. Smooth Stepper won a Handicap here last February over an extended 3m4f on Heavy ground. However he was very disappointing at Aintree on his last start. Lamanver Pippin disappointed in first time cheekpieces at Chepstow on his last start and they're left off here but he is a bit inconsistent. Potter's Legend is a course and distance winner and has been running well this season winning at Warwick before a good performance when second in a Grade 3 at Cheltenham basis and might have been closer but for a mistake at Sandown on his last start. Those three runs came after wind surgery. Cloud And Goldie was a 13l fourth in last year's renewal and at 12yo has a big task. Crievehill is a course and distance winner here on Good to Soft and over 2m4f on Heavy and has been placed on numerous occasions. He's back to the mark he won off in November 2019. He was well beaten by Royal Pagaille last time but didn't jump well. Just Your Type has pulled up in three of his last six starts and won once and was place once in the others. Blinkered for the first time he's hard to fancy. It's definitely a race not to get too involved in but a little Each Way bet on Crievehill might give us a run for our money and he's available at 22/1 with Corals.
Selection; Crievehill (22/1 Corals) half point Each Way
Best Alternative; Sam's Adventure
Unibet Hurdle (1m7f144y)
Just three go to post for this Grade 2 and Buveur D'Air is odds on to return from an absence of over thirteen months through injury with a win' He's the highest rated of the three runners with a rating 6lb higher than Ballyandy who has had four starts this seasons and hasn't been out of the first three without winning. In fact his last win came in this race last year when he won by a nose from Pentland Hills. Conditions of the race however mean that he has to concede 6lb to Buveur D'Air and 3lb to Navajo Pass. The latter will relish the going but has been campaigning over 2m4f in his last three starts. I'll take a chance with Ballyandy for the Twiston-Daiies' who won this four times with The New One after whom the race is named.
Best Alternative; Navajo Pass
Punchestown (Going; Heavy)
Moscow Flyer Hurdle (2m30y)
It's disappointing that Master McShee has had to be withdrawn but nonetheless it's an interesting race. Willie Mullins has the Favourite in Ganapathi who has had just two career starts, the first when winning a Flat race in France and then in Cork last Novemebr when he won a Maiden hurdle on heavy ground at Cork by just under 2l with the first two pulling 13l clear of the third. The runner up, Rajsalad, was beaten by a very useful horse Kalkas at Limerick next time up. Ganapathi has a couple of entries for the Dublin Racing Festival in three weeks time. It's also worth noting that Willie Mullins has won this six times in the last ten years. The man who has trained the winners of the last two renewals, Gordon Elliott, has Magic Tricks for J.P. McManus. This one went clear on the run in to win his maiden hurdle at the first time of asking at Navan last month winning by 8l. The runner up and the third have been well beaten since. It's hard to know how good Dreal Deal is. He's on a six timer having started his winning sequence off a mark of 84 in a Handicap Hurdle at Navan and runs off a mark of 141 tomorrow having been raised 30lb for his latest win at Cork in November. He also has to concede 2lb to the above two. Power Of Pause is another Mullins runner. He's won his last two both on Heavy ground but jockey bookings suggest he's third choice of the stable. Fire Attack is still a Maiden over hurdles but did win his Bumper in December 2019 beating the useful Julies Stowaway 2l. His two starts this season have resulted in a half length runner up to Fakeira in the Monksfield Hurdle at Navan in November but was 23l behind Appreciate It at Leopardstown. It's hard to believe Gua Du Large is 10/1. He was beaten a neck by Queen's Brook at Fairyhouse in November and then won his maiden at Thurles the same month beating Landa Beach 23l. Echoes In Rain has her second start form Mullins since arriving from France. She was well beaten by Aspire Tower on her first run after a seven month break at Christmas 2019 and wasn' t seen again until last month when running out a 15l winner of a Maiden Hurdle at Naas. Not a lot to go on so I'll take a chance with Ganapathi
Best Alternative; Magic Tricks
Warwick (Going; Soft, Heavy in places)
Hampton Novices Chase (3m)
With some snow showers forecast over night conditions could be very testing come post time tomorrow. Just three runners go to post for this Grade 2. Next Destination was top class as a hurdler but met with a setback and was off two and a half years before resuming at Wetherby last October and running a respectable race to be an 8l second to Roksana. He was then thrown in at the deep end in November at Newbury for his Chase debut but he jumped beautifully and only had to get a couple of reminders after the last to run out the winner. I'd imagine he'd improve from that but he does have to carry a 5lb penalty. Ground won't be a problem. Connections of Fiddleronthehoof had the intention of going down the 2m4f route with him this season and he got off to a promising start finishing second to If The Cap Fits at Ffos Las and then winning at Exeter on Ground that wasn't really suitable after which connections said the Dipper was his target. He then had two runner up spots in Grade 2's at Newbury and Ascot in both races starting Favourite but appearing to lack a turn of foot so it's no surprise to see him stepping up in trip here. Golan Fortune was beaten 8l by Shan Blue in the Grade 1 Novices at Kempton over Christmas with The Big Breakaway and If The Cap Fits just in front of him. He won his previous start, his chase debut, beating Champagne Well by over 8l. I'd have a worry about him in this ground at this Grade. Three horse races can be tricky but I'll chance Next Destination.
Selection; Next Destination
Best Alternative; Fiddleronthehoof
Leamington Novices Hurdle (2m5f)
Twelve runners are due to face the starter for this Grade 2 and to me it seems to be a bit more wide open than the early betting suggests. Make Me A Believer fell three out on his only start in a point in a race won by Adrimel. He won two of his nest three starts the last after a wind op following a second place to the unbeaten Bear Ghrylis. His two wins came over 2m and 2m1f and the defeat came over an extended 2m3f. Adrimel has only been beate once in six starts. That came in the Champion Bumper last March where he finished a remote sixteenth after which he had a wind op. His two hurdle wins have come over the minimum trip but having won his point this trip should be no problem nor should the ground and he wears cheek pieces for the first time to go with the regular tongue tie. The Tizzard stable looks to be out of form at the moment with just three out of fourteen runners in the first three in the last fortnight. Lots of trainers administer the flu vaccine in January so that could be a reason and stableform can turn in the link of an eye. They run Oscar Elite here and he won his point at the third time of asking last March. He reappeared at Chepstow in October and ran out a comfortable 20l winner of a maiden hurdle over an extended 2m3f. He returned to the course last month and won a three horse race over the extended 2m7f. This is a big step up to those two runs. Jay Be Why won his only point in October 2019 and was then sold to current connections for £68k. He had his next start at Newbury twelve months ago but ran disappointingly and was given a wind op. His next start was last month around here and he surprised connections winning by over 9l over this distance beating the odds on favourite who ran very keenly. Midnight River had a couple of placed runs in Bumpers before being put away last February. He reappeared last October at Uttoxeter he won his maiden over 2m4f beating Shantou Express just over 1l with the first two pulling over 30l clear of the third. The latter won his next two and had some pretty decent Bumper form. Midnight River then went to Cheltenham later in the month and was beaten almost 5l into second place by Does He Know who went on to win what was probably a weak Grade 2 at the same track next time. Midnight River then went to Leicester where he won a Novice Hurdle with the first two pulling well clear. Pure Bliss won her point and a Bumper before pulling up next time after which she had a wind op. She reappeared last November and won a Novice over 2m before repeating that win next time over 2m2f. This is a big step up but she may be able to get a bit of black type. Mint Condition seems to be an improving horse this season. Having failed to win in four starts lasts season he's won three of his four starts since resuming last October all in Handicap Hurdles and rising 20lb in the ratings. Ground won't be an issue. Lord Kerak has had just the three runs, all over hurdles, finishing runner up in the first two both over 2m and then stepping up in trip and winning over 2m4f at Uttoxeter last month. He was beaten over 3l by Adrimel on his second start but the stable is coming into form and he might be good each way value. Optimise Prime has won two Hereford Novice Hurdles but this is a big step up although his trainer is confident he'll run a big race. It's unusual to see a Nicholls horse at 18/1 in a Graded race. Was third of three last time in a race that developed into a sprint from the last. Prior to that he had won a Maiden at Ffos Las by 9l, a victory that made the handicapper give him a rating of 137. The trainer also reckons he'll be better going left handed. A tricky affair that could be made even more difficult by the rain that's due. It's a race not to get too involved in and I'm going for a little each way on Midnight River who has been laid out for the race
Selection; Midnight River E.W. (10/1 available with Paddy Power)
Best Alternative; Adrimel
Naas (Going; Heavy)
Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle (2m4f)
Eight due to go to post for this Grade 1 that used to be known as the Slaney Hurdle and it has been monopolised over the last ten years by Mullins and Elliott with the score 5-3 to Willie Mullins with a stellar roll of honour. Ashdale Bob caused a bit of a surprise at Navan on his last start back in December running out a 6l winner of the Grade 2 at odds of 14/1 with Gabynako, who pulled hard, back 6l in third. Prior to that Ashdale Bob had Wide Receiver 1l back in second in a Maiden Hurdle at Navan back in November. Blue Lord has had just the one run since arriving from France where he won his last of three starts. He followed up on his debut here for Willie Mullins getting the better of Julies Stowaway, who went off evens favourite, by half a length although in the end he only had to be pushed out hands and heels after getting a couple of cracks after jumping the last. He looked like he would improve for a step up in trip having been pushed along turning in and jumping upsides the leaders at the last. Bob Olinger has made a big impression. He won his point impressively first time out and then went to Gowran where he sluiced home in a 2m2f Bumper. He was laid off until November when he was beaten 1l by Ferny Hollow over 2m at Gowran in a Maiden Hurdle with the two pulling well clear of the rest. Crosshill was an easy winner of his Maiden beating subsequent winner, Vanillier, by 11l with the latter then going on to finish second in a Grade 2 at Limerick over Christmas. Flanking Maneuver got off the mark at the third attempt in Bumpers at Downpatrick in October before taking two goes to win over Hurdles when he beat Folcano 6l at Fairyhouse earlier this month on Heavy ground. Gabynako did himself no favours the last day where he pulled hard at Navan. He had won his previous start at Naas over 2m having been beaten less than 1l on his previous two starts behind Fakieras and Eskylane. Ragnor Ladbrok wears first time cheekpieces. He's finished runner up in his last two runs, both over 3m, by 8l and 7l. On his run prior to those he had won his maiden at Galway over 2m3f. He looks the second pick of the Elliott pair. Wide Receiver won his maiden having been dropped back to 2m after finishing 1l behind Ashdale Bob last November. With further rain forecast on Ground already Heavy conditions will be really testing at Naas. Bob Olinger will probably go off favourite but I think Blue Lord is entitled to come on a lot for his first run in fourteen months and it could be significant that he is Willie Mullins' only runner in a race he targets
Selection; Blue Lord
Best Alternative; Bob Olinger
Chepstow (Going; Heavy)
Precautionary Inspection 8am
Juvenile Hurdle (2m11y)
Eight have been declared to face the starter for this Grade 1 and Nassalam is even money favourite on the back of two monstrous wins at Fontwell in November and December. Prior to those starts he had one run in France where he was runner up. It's fair to say that he didn't beat a whole lot at Fontwell and you could pick one or two holes in the form of the French race but visually he was very impressive in Fontwell. It's interesting that Paul Nicholls introduces Houx Gris for his British debut in a Grade 1. He's had four runs in France, winning a 1m4f Bumper first time out and ending with a win at Auteuil last October on Heavy ground over and extended 2m1f. Adagio is another French import who won on the Flat prior to coming across the Channel. He made a wining Hurdling debut on Good ground in November and then ran in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham finishing a 5l runner up to Duffle Coat on Good to Soft before going back to Cheltenham last month and winning a Trial Hurdle comfortably by 5l. Elham Valley ran nine times on the flat with a highest rating of 75 following two wins. He won on his only start over hurdles last month on Heavy ground with a battling win at Sandown where he got home by just under 2l with Yggdrasil, who was making his racecourse debut, another 4l back in third. Bannister is a horse who races keenly and on his last three starts has made all winning the first of them, on Good ground, where his nearest challenger unseated at last. I'll have to go with Nassalam.
Best Alternative; Houx Gris
Wincanton (Going; Soft, Good to Soft in places)
Precautionary Inspection 8am
Dipper Novices Chase (2m4f35y)
Just three runners for his Grade 2 and Protektorat is a short price favourite to back up his two impressive wins over fences the latter which he won by 17l from Southfield Theatre. His trainer Dan Skelton is very bullish about his chances saying that he would be disappointed if he got beaten. Although he is highest rated in the race (154) he has to concede 3lb to Messire Des Obeaux (147). The latter was a Grade 1 winner over hurdles back in December 2016 and was placed in two other Grade 1's that season while also winning a Grade 2. He's only raced twice since April 2017 the first last February when he faded and was beaten 24l and then last month when when winning a Novice Handicap chase by just over 2l conceding the runner up 7lb. His jumping was good, he was clever at the second last and he just had to be pushed out to win very comfortably. I think he can improve more provided he stays sound and he could be worth taking on the favourite with. Lieutenant Rocco is the outsider of three but has a decent bit of form in hi last run when he got to within three and three part lengths of Fusil Raffles last month. His two wins, both over hurdles, have come on Heavy ground which is a concern.
Selection; Messire Des Obeaux
Best Alternative; Protektorat
Kempton (Going; Hurdle Soft, Good to soft in places; Chase; Good to soft, Soft in places)
Relkeel Hurdle (2m5f)
A decent field of seven go to post for this Grade 2. Having won three on the trot over hurdles including a Grade 3 last March here at Kempton and the Grade 2 Persian War at Chepstow in October McFabulous was stepped up to 3m in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last November but was beaten just over 1l and 5l by Thyme Hill and Paisley Park having hung right handed throughout and fading on the run in to lose second. Those three wins came on Good and Good to Soft (twice). He had won a Grade 2 Bumper on soft at Aintree so Going, Trip and course should be fine. Younevercall progressed from Handicap hurdles to winning a Grade 2 at Sandown in April 2019, a win that came about after wind surgery. Having been well beaten at Royal Ascot in his next start in June 2019 he had a wind op and wasn't seen until last November when he went down by a nose conceding 36lb to the winner who got up on the line. He then went to Ascot last month and was beaten 7l by Paisley Park. The drop back in trip should suit but his best form has come on Good or Good to Soft and at 10yo might be vulnerable to younger improvers. Summerville Boy has been very consistent over the last twelve months winning two of his six starts both over 2m5f. He put up a fine performance at Cheltenham in December in the International Hurdle over 2m1f going down by just over 3l to Song For Someone. Thomas Darby was beaten over 4l by Summerville Boy on his seasonal start at Aintree last November and hasn't been seen since. He did beat Song For Someone at Ascot twelve months ago conceding 7lb which is a fair bit of form. Call Me Lord won the International last season but was over 7l behind this seasons winner. He was also beaten almost 8l behind Summerville Boy over 2m4f at Aintree last November. There's not a lot between most of these on ratings but Mc Fabulous might have more room for improvement and gets the nod.
Best Alternative; Summerville Boy
Silviniaco Conti Chase (2m4f110y)
Just four runners for this Grade 2 and Imperial Order is slight odds on to continue his winning run. He's never been out of the first three in eleven starts winning seven including his last three. He was very impressive on his last start when he stepped up to Grade 2 class for the first time. He has to concede 6lb to Master Tommytucker who's jumping can be an issue. He was in contention the last day but hit two out and faded. The other worry is that he has fallen on his last two starts here. Riders Onthe Storm won three on the bounce last season before falling three out in the Ryanair at the Cheltenham Festival after which he was put away until November when he finished 57 l behind Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham over 2m. He went up 22lb in the ratings last season but will have to improve on that last run to figure. Clondaw Castle has improved in three sgtarts this season finishing second in the Old Roan, then winning at Newbury concedeing weight in a handicap and then finishing just over 7l to Master Fisher in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham. Imperial Aura for me.
Selection; Imperial Aura
Best Alternative; Riders Onthe Storm
Sandown (Going; Heavy)
Tolworth Novices Hurdle (1m7f216y)
Metier is the highest rated horse in the race with a mark of 140 following two impressive wins over hurdles. He was rated 90 on the flat is Ireland and cost connections 150,000 guineas. Flat speed and winning on heavy make him attractive here. Galice Macalo, who gets a valuable 7lb Mare's allowance, won her first two starts back in October on Good and Good To Soft but found nothing when challenged by the winner on Heavy over Course and Distance last month. Do Your Job won a point in October 2019 but took three runs to register over hurdles and then followed up at Ayr in October by over 9l with the runner up winning his nest two. Do Your Job led in a Haydock Listed race next time but jumped right at the last and wandered left before finding nothing extra going down by just over 3l. The winner was a 3l runner up in a Grade 2 behind My Drago next. Shakem Up'Arry looks as this is his trip having been beaten over further however he has it all to do on ratings while Smurphy Enki, who was imperessive on his second Hurdle start, could be an improver.
Best Alternative; Galice Macalo
Limerick (Going; Heavy)
Grant Thornton Hurdle (2m)
Just six declared for this Grade 2 for 4yo's and Galopin Des Champs from the all conquering Willie Mullins stable heads the betting. He's had just the one start for the stable having won on his only start in France. His Irish debut came at Gowran Park last month which was his first run since May. The Gowran race was 2m on heavy ground and having taken the lead two out he eventually went down by half a length to Sea Ducor who was receiving 7lb. The latter ran a big race in a Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown Sunday behind Master McShee. The third in the Gowran race Get My Drift won a Maiden on Saturday and the fourth, Mighty Blue, was 3l second in a Listed Mares to the impressive Gauloise. A lot of the Mullins team have come on for their first run and with the form of that race working out he must ahve a big chance. Grand Roi cost current connections £400,000 when bought out of Nicky Henderson at the UK Summer Sales. He ran four times for Henderson having ran twice in France. He won a Warwick Bumper by 15l from Audacity but finished a1l fourth behind that one in a Listed Cheltenham Bumper. He then won two minor hurdle races by 7l and 13l respctively before being sold. He was thrown in at the deep end by Gordon Elliott running in a Grade 3 Hurdle at Galway in October and acquitted himself well in his first start since February finishing just over 5l behind the winner Beacon Edge although he was probably flattered by the margin as the winner was eased on the run in. He was given a rating of 138 after that. Wolf Prince had some decent form last season finishing with a runner up spot in the Grade 1 Hurdle at the Dublin Festival, beaten just over 1l by Wave Of The Sea. He's had plenty of jumping experience and on his last run he was beaten almost 2l into second by Call Me Lyreen with the two finishing about 30l clear of the rest. The form of that race was let down yesterday with the latter finishing 30l back of Appreciate It. Gua Du Large has had just two runs over hurdles winning at the second attempt at Thurles last month his task made easier when Gjoumi fell at the last. On his previous start he had gone down by a neck to Queens Brook at Fairyhouse. Indiana Jones was 42l behind Call Me Lyreen in a Grade 2 at Naas last month having won his maiden on his Irish debut at Cork November 1st. Lunar Display fell at the on her penultimate start when still in touch. That was her second start over hurdles having finshed down the field on her seasonal debut in October. She had won a Leopardstown Bumper on her racecourse debut back in March on what was her only other start. There are some nice types here but I think Galopin Des Champs can add to the Mullins tally.
Selection; Galopin Des Champs
Best Alternative; Grand Roi
Leopardstown (Going; Hurdles, Soft; Chase, Yielding)
Neville Hotels Novice Chase (3m)
Just six are due to face the starter for this Grade 1 and Monkfish is odds on to confirm the good impression he made on his Chasing debut at Fairyhouse last month when he beat stablemate Ontheropes in a canter over 2m5f. He renews rivaly with Latest Exhibition who was a neck second to him in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham in March. The latter got his chasing career off to a good start when he won going away by 2l. He disappointed next time out going down by 7l to Pencillfulloflead in the Grade 2 Florida Pearl and the latter finished second in the Grade 1 at Limerick on Saturday. Connections of Latest Exhibition believe that last race may have come a bit to quick after his debut as he ran a bit flat. Conflated beat Opposites Attract 17l over 2m4f at Navan with the disappointing odds on favourite The Big Getaway a further 4l back in fourth. The runner up had finished just over 2l behind Latest Exhibition at Punchestown in October over 2m6f.. Prior to that Conflated had been a 6l second to Asterion Forlonge over an extended 2m3f. This is his first attempt at 3m. Eurobot won an Andover point and Cork maiden hurdle, both over 2m. He got his season off to a start last month when having his task made easy by fall from his main rivals at the 3rd and second last while Foxy Jacks and Heaven Help Us will be looking for crumbs. Latest Exhibition looks a bit of value and is the selection
Selection; Latest Exhibition
Best Alternative; Conflated
Matheson Hurdle (2m)
Saint Roi, having won impressively at Tipperary in October, got into all sorts of trouble in the Morgiana but rallied to get to within a neck of Abracadabras. Willie Mullins is quoted in the Racing Post saying " we need to have our tactics better than we did last time. We didn't get things right but hopefully we'll do better and get it right with him last time". He took a keen hold that day and made a mistake two out, dropped to last , was short of room yet still finished where he did. Abracadabras was all out at the finish having probably hit the front a bit sooner than Jack Kennedy wanted and his jumping will have to improve as well. Aspire Tower was one of the top juveniles last season winning twice by extended margins before falling at the last in the Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival. He then finished second in the Triumph despite poor jumping and reappeared at Down Royal in October where he made all and a good jump at the last saw him go clear to beat Abracadabras by over 4l. If he brings his A game and jumps he could be in with a shout. Sharjah has won the last two renewals of this. He was well beaten by Honeysuckle at the Dublin Festival but improved on that to be a 3l second to Epatante in gthe Champion Hurdle. He then had two runs on the flat over the summer the best probably when just over 4l behind Princess Zoe in a big handicap at Galway in July. He doesn't have the advantage of a recent run as he did for the previous two renewals which is a concern. Saldier hasn't been seen since winning the Morgiana in 2019 which was his first run in a year so he is capable of winning after a long absence. However others are preferred. Having beaten Minella Melody in a Grade 3 over 2m4f at Galway, Beacon Edge finished a three parts of a length third to Honeysuckle in the Hattons Grace over 2m4f. He was just beaten a nose by Jason The Militant at Naas in February but dropping back in trip in this class might be a problem. Petite Mouchoir, the 2016 winner, was almost 4l back in second here last year before gong down by 1l to Honeysuckle at the Dublin Festival. He was a respectable fifth in the Champion Hurdle but hasn't been seen since finishing a 4l third to Aramon in the Galway Hurdle. Coueur Sublime was over 6l behind the winner in the Morgiana and was a 12l third here last year. It has the makings of a cracking race and slight preference is for Saint Roi.
Selection; Saint Roi
Best Alternative; Aspire Tower
Newbury (Going; Soft. Precautionary Inspection)
Challow Novices Hurdle (2m4f118y)
Six go to post for this Grade 1 which has a terrific roll of honour with Thyme Hill and Champ winning the last two renewals. Star Gate cost connections £140,000 after winning his Point at Belharbour back in February. He reappeared in October at Chepstow winning a maiden hurdle over an extended 2m3f with the second and third winning since. He then won the Grade 2 Winter Novices Hurdle at Sandown beating a couple of previous winners easily. Paul Nicholls is afraid the ground might be against Bravemansgame. He won his Point on Yielding To Soft and his two wins have come on Good ground. He was well beaten a year ago on Heavy. He has been very impressive on his last two runs which were his only wins in three hurdles starts having been beaten in two Bumpers on soft and heavy. Glancing Queen had good form in the Spring last year finishing Fifth in the Champion Bumper and then winning the Grade 2 Aintree Mares one from Minella Melody. She finished down the Field in the Champion Bumper this year. She then had two spins on the flat at Kempton over the summer before making her hurdling debut at Warwick last month and winning a Mares Novice comfortably which was her last start. Does He Know has won his last three, the last one a Grade 2 at Cheltenham over 2m5f on Good To Soft. His previous two wins have come on Good and Good To Firm. It's hard to know how good the form of that Grade 2 is but you can only beat what's in front of you and he beat a decent sort on his previous win. Wilde About Oscar has had two bloodless victories in his two starts this season winning the last one by 16l. You wouldn't rule him out coming from the Skelton team and the trainer says there will be no excuses. Star Gate comes from a good staying family and just shades it for me.
Selection; Star Gate
Best Alternative; Wilde About Oscar
Leopardstown (Going; Hurdles, Soft. Chase, Yielding)b ?bgc
Plenty of disquiet among current and retired jockeys re the Going on the Chase Course at Leopardstown. Hopefully the rain forecast for over night, between 4mm and 5mm, will give a little more ease in it and we won't have any issue with late withdrawals which has sometimes been the case.
Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle (3m)
Nine runners are due to post for this Grade 1 and it looks highly competitive. Sire Du Berlais won the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival for the second time last March and didn't reappear until Navan in early November in the Lismullen Hurdle where he went second on the way to the last and stayed on strongly to beat French Dynamite, who was receiving 3lb, by half a length with Sixshooter over 3l further back in third. Ronald Pump was still in it having been switched to the rail going to the last but he never took off and ran right through the Hurdle and fell. That was over 2m4f which was a bit on the shortside for the winner and this trip and going will be right up his street. Fury Road got his season off to the perfect start at Punchestown last month winning a Grade 2 beating Dewcup by over 3l in Heavy Ground over 2m5f120y. Having fallen in the Liamullen Hurdle, Ronald Pump put up big performance in the Hattons Grace at Fairyhouse going down by half a length to Honeysuckle conceding the mare 7lb. Since winning a chase at Fairyhouse in November last year he's been runner up in four of his six starts, three of them in Garde 1's. He won't be inconvenienced by the Ground. The Storyteller reverts to Hurdles after his fine win in the Down Royal Grade 1 Chase in October. He won't be inconvenienced by the Ground and if he runs up to his chase mark (162) which is 9lb above his Hurdle mark (153) he will be right in the mix. French Dynamite was sold for £165,000 after winning his point at Tralee in May 2019 and won his Maiden Hurdle on his first start for his new connections in November last year. He was beaten 34l by Envoi Allen at Naas last January on his first start for his new connections and then beat The Bosses Oscar over 2m4f120y at Thurles before finishing just over 6l back in fourth in a decent Grade 3 at the same venue. However that run in the Lismullen was probably his bvest to date and stepping up in trip should suit him. He wears a first time tongue tie to go with the cheekpieces he's worn on his last three starts. Bacardy's last visted the winner's emclosure in last year's Lismullen Hurdle and finished his season three runs later with a 5l third in the Cheltenham Stayers. He reappeared in the Hattons Grace and finished 4l behind the winner Honeysuckle. He was 23l behind Apple's Jade in last years renewal of this on soft ground. Flooring Porter trounce a field of handicappers by 12l over 3m120y at Navan three weeks ago. He got a rise of 14lb in the ratings for that and will have to run well to justify a mark of 150. Sixshooter atempts this trip for the first time following his good third in the Lismullen. Prior to that he had impressed me when going at it from a long way out in Punchestown over 2m2f120y with then runner up Kilfenora suggesting he had plenty of stamina and I think testing conditions will suit him. Bapaume has been disappointing in his last three runs Chasing and has his first start over Hurdles since June 2019. It's a wide open race with a few of them overpriced in my opinion and slight preference is for Sire Du Berlais with Fury Road the danger although I thing French Dynamite and Sixshooter can be on the premises at the business end.
Selection; Sire Du Berlais
Best Alternative; Fury Road
Savills Chase (3m)
I'm struggling to remember a Grade 1 in Ireland with such a large field where 10 of the fourteen runners are rated 160 or more. Minella Indo is favourite as I write and he should be race fit following two bloodless victories in a couple of four runner Graded races, a Grade 3 at Wexford and Grade 2 at Navan. He was entitled to win a s he did but hopefully they will have set him up for this challenge. He's only been out of the first two twice in ten starts under rules, when third on debut in a Bumper and next time in a Maiden Hurdle. He's won five of those starts including two Garde 1's. He raced a bit keenly in the RSA last March and an awkward jump at the last cost him momentum and he was caught by Champ. Taking the same route as last year Delta Work needed the run when over 6l behind The Storyteller at Down Royal. He then came here and won last year's renewal beating Monalee by a head with Kemboy ove 3l back in fourt and Presenting Percy a further half a length back in fifth. Delta Work then won the Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival before finishing 6l back in fifth in the Gold Cup. Presenting Percy moved to Gordon Elliott over the summer. He started off in Down Royal where he was 6l back in fourth to The Storyteller before beating Kemboy by over 6l in a Listed Tramore Chase. It will be interesting to see how he gets on here. Alaho a 2l third in the RSA last March was beaten 34l by Min in the John Durkan on his seasonal debut being eased when a mistake four out ended his effort. A Plus Tard runs in a first time tongue tie and steps up to 3m for the first time since finishing over 13l back in third behind Delta Work in Grade1 Punchestown Novice Chase in April last year after which it was decided he had to run left handed. He won then Grade 1 2m here last year and a good run will give more options. Kemboy was second behind Delta Work in the Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival but his jumping let him down in the Gold Cup and it remains to be seen if he can turn form around with a few of these on recent runs. Samcro steps into the unknown here over 3m. On his final run last season he returned to form winning the Grade 1 Marsh Chase beating Melon a nose. He reappeared at Down Royal in October finishing over 6l back in third behind stablemate Battleoverdoyen in the Grade 2 over 2m4f120y. Fakir D'oudairies finished a12l second to Notebook in a 2m Grade 2 at Naas last month. That was his third runner up spot in a row since winning the Drinmore with some spectacular jumping last December. This is his first attempt at 3m. Melon was over 7l back in third in the John Durkan and his running suggested he would benefit from a step up in trip. Tornado Flyer, 1l behind Min in the John Durkan, steps up to 3m for the first time also and jockey bookings suggest he's way down the pecking order of the five Mullins runners. Easy Game beat Allaho around here last December before going down by half a length to Faugheen at the Dublin Festival. I'm not sure he stayed the 3m in the RSA as he was weakening when falling at the last. He had a couple of runs over the summer which left him race fit for the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran and he beat Theb Storyteller 7l before a second place to Battleoverdoyen in the Grade 2 at Down Royal. The rest look out of it. Minella Indo has been very consistent and was unlucky at Cheltenham. He might just be that little bit more forward than Delta Work and gets the nod.
Selection; Minella Indo
Best Alternative; Delta Work
Limerick (Going; Heavy)
Land Rover Novice Hurdle (2m7f)
Baptism Of Fire won his point in April last year and a few winners have come from it. He struggled in a couple of Bumpers on Heavy ground last season before reappearing in October beating Wide Receiver on his first start over Hurdles on Yielding and then was thrown into a Grade 2 at Punchestown over an extended 2m5f and finishing a 6l third to Fury Road on Heavy. Costalotmore won around here over 2m5f on Heavy having been well beaten the previous run on Good ground. He should have no problems with ground or trip and could be a bit of each way value. Farouk D'alene won his point and two Bumpers on Soft and Soft To Heavy before going to Down royal and winning his Maiden Hurdle over 2m6f by 8l. His next and last run was at Navan earlier this month where he went off the even money favourite for a Grade 3 over 2m4f. He didn't jump well and and jumped right throughout and weakened on the run in to finish over 5l back in fourth. The step up in trip and going right handed here should help. Vanillier won his point a year ago and didn't run again until October at Punchestown where he was an 11l second to Crosshill before winning his maiden on his last start five weeks ago at Naas. Ragnor Lodbrok won his maiden at Galway on Soft and in his subsequent two starts, both at Cork on Soft To Heavy, he was second beaten 7l by Darrens Hope in November and then second again 8l behind the impressive Sayce Gold. Having been a 5l third in a Grade 3 Mares Hurdle over 2m6 around here last March. Darrens Hope wasn't seen again until September when she was a 3l second at Listowel over 2m4f and then stepped up to 2m6f at Ballinrobe and won a Maiden by 11l before beating Ragnor Lodbrok by 7l over 3m at Cork. She pulled up in the Sayce Gold race but the vet said that there were signs she was onn Heavy ground December 1stin season. Carrolls Cottage won around here over 2m3f on Heavy ground and as a 4yo and also won his point in October. Pepite De Belle acts on the Ground but whether her form is good enough remains to be seen and she steps up to this trip for the first time. It is going to be the survival of the fittest and Darren's Hope, who acts on the Going, gets a 7lb Mares allowance and might be worth a look with 12/1 available with Paddy Power and Betfair.
Selection; Darens Hope
Best Alternative; Costalotmore
With Storm Bella set to sweep across Britain and Ireland this evening and overnight plenty of rain is forecast with Met Eireann forecasting 15mm for Leopardstown where at present it is yielding and over 20mm for Limerick where it is already Heavy. Over in Britain Chepstow plan a precautionary inspection with over 22mm forecast to land on already heavy ground and Kempton currently Good To Soft expecting 10mm.
Leopardstown (Going; Yielding)
Paddy's Rewards Club Chase (2m1f)
Chacun Pour Soi was a beaten odds on Favourite in this last year on what was his seasonal debut and this year he goes into the race with the benefit of run in Cork three weeks ago when he was 5l up when Cash Back and Djingle came down at the last. That run should have left him spot on for here and he is odds on Favourite. His win over Min at The Dublin Racing Festival last February was top class. On ratings he has 9lb in hand on Notebook who won two Grade 1's around here last season before disappointing at Cheltenham. He got this season off to a good start beating Fakir D'oudairies 12l at Naas last month. Put The Kettle On has won her last three starts, all around Cheltenham and has won eight of her fourteen starts. She gets the 7lb Mares allowance but still has a bit to find with the favourite and it will be interesting to see how she performs on her first visit to Leopardstown. Le Richebourg pullled up in the John Durkan three weeks ago in what was his first start since February 2019. He was a top class novice winning two Grade 1's around here. He's best watched for now. Connections for Castlegrace Paddy will be praying for a deluge as his best form is on Soft or heavy while. The Favourite's stablemate Annamix has a lot to find on ratings and lacks experience over the larger obstacles having had just the two runs, albeit winning ones, but could be a big improver.
Selection; Chacun Pour Soi
Best Alternative; Notebook
Future Champions Novice Hurdle (2m)
Ten declared for this Grade 1 but the bookies seem to think it's a two horse race with Appreciate It and Ballyadam heading the market. Ballyadam has won his two starts over hurdles first at Down Royal where he romped home by 12l and then stepping up in class to win the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse last month with Cask Mate just over 1l back in second, N'golo, who took a keen hold, a further half length in third and Dewcup another 6l back in fourth. Appreciate It won two Bumpers before finishing just over 2l behind Ferny Hollow in the Cheltenham Bumper. He reappeared last month in a Cork Maiden Hurdle and won comfortably by just over 2l with the runner up winning a maiden by 8l next time. Fire Attack has had just one run over hurdles going down by half a length to Fakiera over 2m4f. Keskronisk has won his Bumper and Maiden Hurdle his only starts. However the third in the Hurdle was beaten a long way in the Leopardstown Maiden won by Wide Receiver. Call Me Lyreen has done nothing wron winning his three starts all over hurdles the latest a Grade 2 where Wolf Prince was almost 2l back in second. It's hard to see beyond the top two although N'golo might appeal to Each Way backers. Appreciate It might just shade it.
Selection; Appreciate It
Best Alternative; Ballyadam
Kempton (Going; Good To Soft)
Wayward Lad Novices Chase (2m)
Shishkin faces just three opponents in this Grade 2. He won unchallenged around here on his chase debut last month putting 23l between himself and Mick Pastor. Gumball may have been unlucky the last day, falling two out when going well at Cheltenham. He seems to have found a bit of form over fences having won on his second start back in October. Tamaroc Du Mathan won his only start over Fences on his seasonal debut with a comfortable 4l margin at Wincanton on his first start after a wind op. He has a bit to find on ratings but could well be ebetter over fences than hurdles. Elusive Belle gets the Mares allowance and the Stewards were told she appreciated the ground when winning the last day having been beaten a long way on soft at Bangor previously. As I write this punters are reeling from some odds on favourites getting beaten but Shishkin on all known form can't be opposed.
Best Alteernative; Tamaroc Du Mathan
Desert Orchid Chase (2m)
Altior faces five opponents and is 4/6 to win this Grade 2 after a three hundred and twenty three day break. His last run came back in February when he beat Sceau Royal in the Game Spirit Chase. Next in the beting at 11/2 comes Duc Des Genievres who has his second run back after a wind op having finished just over 1l second to Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham last month. He has yet to reach the heights of his Arkle Chase victory at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Sceau Royal had the option of running in the Christmas Hurdle but connections have come here instead. It's his fifth start since mid October and his second in fifteen days when he was a 3l fourth in the International Hurdle on Soft ground. Rouge Vif impressed on his seasonal debut when running out a 7l winner of a Handicap Chase giving weight to most of his rivals but was beaten nearly 9l by Politilogue in the Tingle Creek where he looked one paced from the second last and possibly needs better ground to be seen to best effect. Nube Negra has his first run since February and is best watched while Global Citizen, who won the Wayward Lad on the card last year is the 25/1 outsider after stopping quickly at Exeter on his last start back in November. It's probably a race to avoid but if Altior turns up in good health his turn of foot after the last could swing it.
Best Alternative; Duc Des Genievres
Chepstow (Going; Heavy)
Finale Juvenile Hurdle (2m11y)
Nine have been declared for this Grade 1 with Houx Gris, having his first run for Paul Nicholls, installed as clear favourite. He had his second win from four starts on his last run in France in late October after which he was bought for €200,000 at the Arqana Sales. Elham Valley has had just one run over hurdles winning at Sandown earlier this month on Heavy ground. He was two from nine on the flat with a highest rating of 78. Marta Des Mottes has won two of three starts over hurdles in France and has her first start for her new connections here. She gets a 7lb allowance and her trainer Tom Symonds has been on fire. Yggdrasil was beaten 6l by Elham Valley on his only racecourse appearance and he took a strong hold that day and only gave way approaching the last. Bannister won by 20l on good ground in September and has run twice in France since on Heavy running well without winning. Honneur D'Ajonc has had just one run, finishing a 5l second to Monmiral at Exeter last month with the latter winning a Grade 2 by 11l next time out. He could well be over priced at 11/1. It's hard to see any of the others getting into it. I'll take a chance with Elham Valley but there is potential for a shock on desperate ground.
Selection; Elham Valley
Best Alternative; Yggdrasil
Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle (2m)
Zanahiyr is hard to oppose after slamming Saint Sam on his last start at Fairyhouse last month, even though he is 7lb worse off for that 14l winning margin. He is already favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. Saint Sam was odds on Favourite that day at Fairyhouse on what was his first start since Mid July when he completed a two timer in France. Paul Townend had to start niggling him before the second last and he had no answer when the winner pulled away between the last two hurdles. Willie Mullins also runs Ha D'or who is hooded for his first start for connections having won his only start in France in July. Autumn Evening had four runs on the flat with the best being a couple of third placings before winning on Hurdles debut at Cork twenty days ago on Heavy ground by three parts of a length. Busselton has his first start for Joseph O'Brien since arriving from France where he won his last start at Auteuil last May. Druid's Altar was a 48l third behind Zanahiyr at Fairyhouse having led for a long way. This looks a stiff task for Jeff Kidder. Zanahiyr is hard to oppose with Saint Sam nominated as best alternative.
Best Alternative; Saint Sam
Racing Post Novice Chase (2m1f)
Just six runner go to post for this Grade 1. Felix Desjy has impressed in his two starts over the larger obstacles, winning by 31l at Killarney on debut while at Punchestown last month he beat Sizing Pottsie by just under 2l in the Grade 2 Chase with the latter going on to win a Grade B Handicap chase impressively next time at Fairyhouse. Darver Star was a disappointing Favourite in the aforementioned Punchestown Race finishing 10l back in third and looked like he needed a step up in trip. Blackbow won two Bumpers around here but was a Maiden after four hurdles starts. He got his chase career off to a good start beating Entoucas by 4l at Navan last month. The latter was beaten 6l by Sizing Pottsie in that Grade B Fairyhouse Chase when in receipt of 11lb. On the face of it that leaves Blackbow with a lot to find but it was his first start of the season and he should improve for it. Franco De Port was rated 148 over hurdles and got his chasing career off to the perfect start winning by 6l at Thurles last month. Jockey bookings suggest he's the second choice of the Mullins' pair. Embittered beat Blackbow on his Hurdling debut at Nass in November 2019 but failed to win any of his next for starts. On his two starts so far over the larger obstacles he has filled the runner up berth twice, behind Easywork and Andy Dufresne, both by about 3l and at Navan. Benruben is the most experienced of these over fences with a rating of 138 but was 28l behind Felix Desjy at Punchestown on his last run having won his previous two starts. He might improve for a better surface as it was Soft to Heavy at Punchestown. There could be more improvement to come from Felix Desjy which should be enough to see him home here although interestingly he has never run at Leopardstown.
Selection; Felix Desjy
Best Alternative; Blackbow
Greenmount Park (Faugheen) Novice Chase (2m3f160y)
Just five runners for this valuable Grade 1 and Paul Townend travels here for just one ride, Asterion Forlonge, who should improve for his winning debut over fences at Punchestown last month. He jumped straight for most of the way having showing a tendency for some alarming movements to his right over hurdles and despite a mistake two out he ran out a 6l winner over Conflated. He won his point over 2m4f in February 2018 and his maiden hurdle impressively at Naas last January despite his alarming jumps to the right and beat Pencilfulloflead by 10l and then beat Easywork in the Novice Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival. His only disappointment was when he again jumped right and finished a 14l fourth to Shishkin at Cheltenham. Pencilfulloflead has won his two chases beating Coko Beach three parts of a length and then accounted for Latest Exhibition by 7l in the Florida Pearl although connections for the latter suggested that the race came too soon after his previous start and the ground, Heavy, was probably against him. Colreevy is an interesting runner and stablemate of Asterion Forlonge. She gets a valuable 7lb Mares allowance. She put a similar allowance to good use back in May 2019 beating Abracadabras 1l in a Grade 1 Punchestown Bumper. She won her Maiden Hurdle here a year ago on Heavy ground and got her chase career off to a winning start at Punchestown last month winning by an eased up 15l. Janidil is the third Mullins runner and carries the McManus colours. He has some useful hurdle form running up a hat trick of wins subsequent to a good run on his first star for connections when he went down to Notebook by just over 1l. He won on his chase debut beating Longhouse Poet by 5l who has been well beaten by the horse who finished 8l behind him. Assemble was an 8l runner up to Envoi Allen in the Drinmore having won at the same venue earlier in the month. He won his maiden hurdle on heavy ground at this meeting last year.. It looks a cracking contest and while Asterion Forlonge made a couple of mistakes the last day he was clever enough to find a leg when stumbling two out and you would hope he could improve on that.
Selection; Asterion Forlonge
Best Alternative; Colreevy
Kempton; (Going; Good To Soft)
As I write this Kempton Park uploaded a video on twitter updating the Ground Report (Leopardstown haven't issued any ground report since the 23rd).
Feltham Novices Chase (3m)
Now known as the Kauto Star Novices Chase although he never actually won it, seven runners face the starter for what looks a great renewal. Shan Blue has been hugely impressive in his two starts over fences winning by 14l and 16l respectively. the latter over 3m. He looks a natural over fences and could take all the beating. The Big Brakaway won his first two hurdle starts impressively. He also won his point by 10l with the runner up winning a number of times since. On his last Hurdle start he was beaten over 14l by Envoi Allen with Shan Blue a further 13l back. He won first time out this season in a Cheltenham Novice Chase over an extended 3m but got beaten at long odds on next time when dropped back in trip. He has a bit to go yet to justify the €360,000 they gave for him at Punchestown in May 2019. He'l get the strongly run race connections say he requires here. If The Cap Fits beat Fiddleronthehoof at Ffos Las on his chase debut but was a beaten odds on Favourite on his next and last start at Sandown early last month. The cheekpieces he wore when winning two Garded hurdles last year are back on here. Paul Nicholls has kept Enrilo fresh since he won at Exeter over 3mearly last month that was his second start over fences having finished a neck second to thye Mighty Don on debut. One For The Team was staying but had no chance with the winner Kalooki when falling at the last on his debut at Newbury early last month but put up a fine performance next time on his last start when finishing second just over 1l behind the high class Next Destination in a Grade 2 at Newbury. Kalooki got away with jumping errors on his chase debut beating House Island by 12l and then on his next and last start in the aformentioned Grade 2 at Newbury he jumped left throughout, made a number of mistakes to finish a further 6l behind One For The Team. It's hard to see Golan Fortune winning although he won his and only Chase beating Champagne Well by over 8l. He was a decent handicap hurdler but this is a huge ask. If The Cap Fits is highest rated but it was hard not to be impressed with Shan Blue about whom trainer Dan Skelton is very bullish and he gets the selection
Selection; Blue Shan
Best Alternative; The Big Breakaway
Christmas Hurdle (2m)
Just four oppose long odds on Epatante the Champion Hurdler and winner of last years renewal of this. Silver Streak was carried out in the Fighting Fifth won by Epatante and had a hard race two weeks ago at Cheltenham. Ballyandy is well held on form and the rest are looking for crumbs on previous form with some of these.
Best Alternative; Silver Streak
King George VI Chase (3m)
One of the highlights of the season and this renewal shouldn't disappoint. Nine go to post with the winner of the last two renewals, Clan Des Obeaux attempting the hat trick. He had Cyrname 21l back in second place in last year's renewal and this is his track as just doesn't like Cheltenham. He was going better than anything in the Betfair on his seasonal debut last month but tired between the last two on what was his first run after a wind op. The Heavy ground didn't help either and this course and going is more in his favour. Cyrname runs best when fresh and hasn't been seen since winning the Charlie Hall eight weeks ago possibly proving the doubters wrong about his stamina. Santini has been supplemented for this and if you believe Nicky Henderson there was nothing else for him to run in and he thrives on work and racing. His last run at Aintree was disappointing but there were a number of fences omitted which probably didn't help. Connections blame the Heavy ground at Haydock for a poor performance from Lostintranslation in the Betfair. He was beaten just over 1l in the Gold Cup and a repeat of that would put him in with a shout. He also has his ground here. Real Steel has a bit to find on ratings, should come on from his first run for his new Stable and wears a first time tongue tie. Saint Calvados has his first run since March and goes over this trip for the first time. He's won first time out before but this is a big ask at this level. Waiting Patiently unseated here two years ago, the only time he has run over 3m, is fragile and hasn't raced in 385 days. Somebody's €5 brought his price in from 20's to 16's but talented horse though he undoubtedly is he's probably best watched. Frodon has run well at Kempton before but has a bit to do on form. It's hard to believe Black Op is 100/1. He was second in the Feltham here a year ago and the trip in the Ladbroke last time was a bit to far his trainer thinks. He won a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Aintree in April m2018 with Lostintranslation in second place. Clan Des Obeaux just shades it for me but I fear a big run from Lostintranslation
Selection; Clan Des Obeaux
Best Alternative; Lostintranslation
Ascot (Going; Heavy)
Long Walk Hurdle (3m97y)
Paisley Park and Thyme Hill renew rivalry after the latter prevailed by just over 1l at Newbury last month when getting 3lb from the former Stayers champion. That was Paisley Park's first run back after a health issue and his flop in the Stayers at Cheltenham. His trainer says he has improved from that run and and his jumping was electric in a schooling session Thyme Hill has had just five runs over hurdles with his only defeat coming in the Albert Bartlett last March when he could be considered a bit unlucky having been stopped in his run a couple of times in a four way finish. He ran in three Bumpers with the last one the Cheltenham one where he was just over 2l behind Envoi Allen. You would hope that there is further improvement from Thyme Hill who is only 6yo. Roksana reappeared at Wetherby in October in the Grade 2 Hurdle where he comfortably beat Next Destination by over 8l. The latter came out and won a Grade 2 Chase next time. She handles the ground and gets the 7lb Mare's allowance. Main Fact is unbeaten in nine starts this year starting off in January. Six of those came over hurdles and three on the flat. He finished last year on a mark of 98 0ver hurdles and runs off 154 here. all his wins have come on Soft or Heavy so he'll have conditions in his favour. His last run was his first time over 3m and he won the Grade 3 at Haydock going away. Younevercall won a Grade 2 at Sandown in April 2019 but has only run twice since, in the Queen Alexander at Royal Ascot that year where he was a 39l last of eleven and last month where, following a wind op in January, he went down by a nose conceding 33lb to the winner. Thistlecrack won this back in 2015 and runs here after a 386 days absence. The Worlds End has some decent form but has pulled up in his last two starts. The Jam Man couldn't manage the 19lb hike in his handicap mark finishing sixth behind Main Fact at Haydock last month while Portrush Ted has won four of his last five (he fell in the other at the last when in contention) but has it all to do at ratings. I'll stick with Thyme Hill who has the potential for more improvement in what could be his last start before Cheltenham.
Selection; Thyme Hill
Best Alternative; Paisley Park
Navan (Going; Soft To Heavy)
Bet Victor Novice Hurdle (2m4f)
The Going is likely to change to Heavy before they go to post for this Grade 2 Novice Hurdle for which seven have been declared to go to post. Holymacapony has been installed favourite on the tissue. He was a big raw horse when winning on debut in a Kirkistown Point last February, surviving numerous errors to win by 7l with the runner up winning his next start last October with the runner up of that sold subsequently for £80k. Holymacapony was then put away until appearing last month where he beat the favourite by 8l with the third a further 19l behind over 2m4f120y in a Punchestown Maiden Hurdle on Soft To Heavy. As a 4yo he gets up to 7lb from his rivals. Fighter Allen was well backed at Punchestown last month on his debut for the Mullins Team having been moved from Elliott's by his owner. In the end he won by just under 1l in the Heavy ground but seemed to idle when going clear at the last. Prior to that he had finished 22l behind over 2m at Naas in a Grade 2 on Soft To Heavy. He had won his only other start in French Bumper when favourite. Following two fourth places in Bumpers, Fakiera had three runner up spots in Maiden Hurdles before literally getting his nose in front when beating Gabynako over 2m at Fairyhouse in a Maiden Hurdle before going to Navan for his last start and winning a Grade 3 over this course and distance beating Fire Attack by half a length in what was a muddling race. Eskylane wears a tongue tie for the first time having been a 6l fifth behind N'golo in a Grade 3 over 2m here last month on Soft To Heavy although he did win a Bumper in those conditions. Prior to that Navan run he had beaten Gabynako by half a length in a Punchestown Maiden over 2m. It's his first time stepping up to this trip under rules though he did win a Point over 3m in May 19 at the fifth time of asking. Gabynako is rated 1lb behind Fakiera who has to concede 3lb to him giving the former an advantage not reflected in the betting. Following on that run behind the latter Gabynako went to Naas and won a Maiden Hurdle by more than 6l. Steps up in trip for the first time under rules. Ashdale Bob appeared not to stay the extended 2m6f on Heavy ground at Fairyhouse last February when going off a short priced favourit and finishing 25l behind the winner. He wasn't seen again until last Month over this course and distance when he beat Wide Receiver by 1l. He had decent form in his only other two starts in November and December 2019. Lieutenant Command has a lot to do to turnaround Navan form with Fakiera. Holymacapony created a big impression when winning his point and there's no telling how good he could be so he is the selection.
Best Alternative; Gabynako
Ascot; (Going; Soft, Heavy in places)
The Kennel Gate Hurdle ( 1m7f152y)
The Going Stick reading is 4.3 and with showers forecast the Going is unlikely to improve. Six go to post for this Grade 2 and it's a tricky affair with four of them closely matched in the early betting. Llandinabo Lad had some useful form in three Bumpers finishing second twice and a 5l fourth to Chantry House on his debut. He was off the track from November 2019 to late October this year when he made his Hurdles debut with an impressive 5l win at Bangor over an extended 2m. The runner up, Minella Drama has come out and won twice since by 11l and 12l respectively. Llandinabo Lad then went to Haydock for a Listed Hurdle winning by over 4l and was subsequently given a rating of 141. He has to be respected coming from the red hot stable of Tom Symonds. No Ordinary Joe is by Getaway out of an unraced sister to numerous winner such as As You Like It, Corkskeagh Royale and Shadow Eile, all by Beneficial. He's raced just once winning a Sandown Bumper last month by 3l comfortably. He'd obviously being showing something at home as he went off 11/10 Favourite. Soaring Glory was coming to win his race at Wetherby last month when falling two out. Prior to that he had finished second to the promising Dusart who won going away by a comfortable two and a half lengths. On his Hurdling debut at Chepstow in October he had beaten Bravemansgame by half a length with the third a further 11l behind. The latter has won his next two starts and is now rated 143. Soaring Glory won two of his three Bumpers and was runner up in the other. My Drago was second in his Bumper at Cheltenham in October and then went to November twenty one days ago where he won a Maiden Hurdle, his only two starts, where the odds on Flinter Sacre failed to shine. The runner up Saggaza had been beaten 43l by Bravemansgame on his previous start. Shantou Express started his Hurdling career with a couple of runner up spots before getting off the mark at Exeter in October winning by 23l. He then went to Sedgefield fourteen days ago and beat a 135 rated horse by 12l. He was given a rating of 134 after this win. Press Your Luck has won his two starts over hurdles. At Newton Abbott in October he kept on well to win by almost 3l with the third a further 13l back. Both the second and third have won since. All in all it looks a wide open race and Llandinabo Lad has to carry a 5lb penalty so slight preference is for Soaring Glory.
Selection; Soaring Glory
Best Alternative; Llandinabo Lad
Noel Novices Chase (2m2f175y)
Just six runners go to post for this Grade 2 and Fiddleronthehoof finally gets his ground. He won two hurdle races at Sandown last season on Soft and Heavy (Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle). I'm prepared to forgive his run in the Supreme at Cheltenham as the stables horse, in most cases, failed to fire that week. He's run well in his three chases so far finishing second and first before coming up against one in Caribean Boy on Good ground where he was a 4l second. Alltart makes his Seasonal and Chasing debut. It's worth noting that on his Seasonal and Hurdling debut in November 2019 he pulled hard and fell at the first. However his trainer Nicky Henderson claims he jumps brilliantly at home. He won his next two hurdle races before finishing 15l behind Shishkin in the Supreme. Pic D'Orhy fell around here the last time and was a beaten odds on favourite the time before, his seasonal debut. He won on his final start last season but was well beaten here on heavy ground last January. His trainers says he should run a nice race if he handles the ground having schooled plenty since his fall. Bold Plan has to give 3lb to his rivals following his victory over The Big Breakaway at Exeter fourteen days ago over 2m3f on Soft ground. Prior to that he had finished over 12l behind Gumball over 2m at Uttoxeter. He has a turn of foot at the end of his races but whether he can produce it on this ground remains to be seen. Once again the Skeltons' throw an unlikely runner in a Graded race but the trainer believes Antunes will outrun his odds. He's just had the two starts over the larger obstacles finishing second to a horse who was rated 146 over an extended 2m1f and then got a confidence booster when winning at Cheltenham earning a rating of 137. Kiltealy Briggs got his Chasing career of to a promising start in a Graduation Chase over 2m at Carlisle in November when going down by 1l to Whoshotthesheriff but the latter has been well beaten in a Handicap chase since. He'll benefit from the steo back up in trip as his best form came at 2m4f and over on Heavy ground. All in all a trappy little contest with slight preference for Fiddleronthehoof.
Best Alternative; Pic D'Orhy
Doncaster (Going; Good To Soft)
December Novices Chase (2m7f214y)
Ofalltheginjoints is favourite for this 2m7f214y Grade 2 on the back of two progressive runs this season. He started off the season at Aintree in October where he took a keen hold and was going easily three out when leading but according to connections got tired in the soft ground and wasn't fluid at the last dropping back to third on the run in. He improved for that when going to Exeter last month where he settled better and was held up and took up the lead two out going on to win having been steadied up going to the last which made the result look a lot closer than it was. House Island got his season off with a 12l second to Kalooki at Newbury over 2m6f with the winner going on to finish 8l third behind Next Destination in a Grade 2 next time. House Island then went to Ludlow and beat an inferior field over 2m4f. He was well beaten in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival over 3m. Hurricane Harvey beat Emitom a Neck on his seasonal and Chase debut at Uttoxeter over 2m4f on Good To Soft in early October though the form hasn't exactly worked out. He then went to Wincanton for the Grade 2 Rising Stars and was beaten 22l into second in a three horse race by the impressive Ga Law. He's fairly consistent and has never been out of the first three under rules winning three. He seems to act on any ground but maybe his best ground could be soft. The Mighty Don has plenty experience over fences having raced nine times over the larger obstacles but has only won once. His win came on his seasonal debut when he beat Enrilo by a neck at Chepstow over an extended 2m7f on Good ground. He looked a bit one paced next time at Exeter on Soft ground but is obviously held in high regard as he was highly tried as a Novice Hurdler. Milanford ran six times in Points for Bloodstock Agent and former Jockey Tom Malone breaking his duck on the last of them by 7l. The runner up that day is only rated 102 under rules but Milanford then changed hands and went to Exeter for his next start last month finishing almost 2l behind the winner L'Air Du Vent who is rated 132, with The Mighty Don who ran of a mark of 142 another 8l back in third. It's hard to know what to make of the form of that with a few fancied ones disappointing but the Handicapper raised the winner 6lb. So on face value, with improvement from that seasonal debut, you would expect further improvement and Market Moves for Milanford should be noted. Novice Chases are fraught with danger but I'll take a chance with Ofalltheginjoints to continue his improvement with Hurricane Harvey the danger.
Best Alternative; Hurricane Harvey
Summit Juvenile Hurdle (2m128y)
Monmiral won in Auteul last March with the runner up winning impressively next time. Monmiral then joined Paul Nicholls and made his debut at Exeter last month winning impressively by over 5l. The trainer said that was his prep race for this. Gordon Elliott is well served i the Juvenile Hurdle Division and Glorious Zoff got off the mark on his Hurdles debut at Sligo in October easily beating Crassus by 12l. The runner up went on to win next time and had earlier been beaten 6l by Duffle Coat. Glorious Zoff then went to Sedgefield and went down by just over 1l to Le Magnifique who was getting 5lb with Gold Desert another 3l back in third. The latter had won previously and won next time out. Cloud Thunder is thrown in at the deep end making his debut over hurdles having finished second on his last three flat starts reaching a rating of 76. Mistersister has his first run foe connections having arrived from France where he won his final start there last August. He was little over 1l behind Nassalam woh was second in a Conditions race in Clairefontaine in June and the latter has won his two starts for Gary Moore by the aggregate total of 108l. He wears a first time tongue tie and his trainer says he goes well at home. Monmiral has to concede 5lb to his rivals but Paul Nicholls has won two of the last four runnings of this and I'm reluctant to take him on as the money seems to be for him. Glorious Zoff is the danger.
Best Alternative; Glorious Zoff
Cheltenham (Going; Soft; Good To Soft in places)
The Bristol Novices Hurdle (2m7f213y)
Eight go to post for this Grade 2 and Ashtown Lad shades favouritism on the back of his comfortable win last time stepping up to an extended 2m7f. He had won his previous start, over 2m3f and on his seasonal debut had finished second, just over 1l behind Ask A Honey Bee. The latter has been runner up twice since that win the latest by a Head to Getaround over 2m6f and steps up to this trip for the first time under rules although she did win a point over the trip. Danny Kirwan has been a bit frustrating since winning his Point and Bumper. He's been a bit fragile and has never before had more than two runs before an extended break. He's a big galloper and the softer the better. After his seasonal debut at Aintree he won easily over 2m3f at Ascot in a Maiden. The step up in trip should suit. Wynn House has won her two starts over Hurdles having won once and placed second twice in Bumpers. This is a big step up in Grade and in trip. John McConnell has his string in great form and he steps Make Good up from 2m to 3m. He won impressively last time on Heavy ground at Gowran. He's rated 131 in Ireland. Took The Lot has won his last two starts, both at Bangor over 2m3f and steps up in trip for the first time. Pat's Fancy won his maiden last time but this is a big step up while Promising Man who won his only Point by 6l last month and was sold for €70k a few days later has his first start since in this and is best watched. It's a wide open race but Ashtown Lad looks to be going the right way and is sure to stay the trip and gets the selection with Ask A Honey Bee next best.
Selection; Ashtown Lad
Best Alternative; Ask A Honey Bee
International Hurdle (2m179y)
Goshen, so unlucky in the Triumph Hurdle, resumes his National Hunt career after what some claim was two disappointing runs on the flat. His trainer is pretty bullish about his chances but hurdles seemed to light a fire under him last season. Song For Someone put money in the bank for us last time when winning the Grade 2 Ascot Hurdle for us impressively over 2m3f. His previous run had been when winning the Kingwell at Kempton over 2m. He should come on for his last run and have the pace to lie up close enough to Goshen. Sceau Royal has been in great form over hurdles thus season after Chasing last year. However unless the ground dries out a bit I fear his chance has gone. Silver Streak got carried out by the loose horse at the second in the Fighting Fifth having won on seasonal debut beating Verdana Blue in a Listed Hurdle at Kempton. Ch'tibello was third in this last year. He was second on his return this season having had a wind op finishing half a length behind Summerville Boy over 2m4f at Aintree. On his penultimate start he had finished three parts of a length third behind Song For Someone in Kempton in February. He is 10lb better off at the weights here. However as a 9yo, he could be vulnerable to younger improvers. Ballyandy was runner up in this last year and loves the track and has finished runner up in two big handicaps this year. It's interesting to see Summerville Boy dropping back in trip although he won over it in a Chase in November 2029. Last year's winner Call Me Lord is 22/1 having had two poor runs, the latest behind Song For Someone at Ascot while stablemate the former's stablemate Verdana Blue has been a beaten odds on favourite on her last two starts. Goshen is clear favourite but I'm going to take him on with Song For Someone who is improving all the time.
Selection; Song For Someone
Best Alternative; Ballyandy (Each Way)
Cheltenham (Good To Soft)
The Peterborough Chase (2m3f168y)
Eight runners for this Grade 2 transferred from Huntingdon last Sunday. Kalashnikov is the early favvorite on the tissue and if back to his best could be thereabouts. His form tailed off at the end of lasts season having started off brightly with a couple of runner up spots , in the Old Roan and a big handicap at Newbury, where he failed to give Orangewood 20lb when going down by a nose. his next two runs were disappointing and he had a wind op over the a summer. He resumed with a warm up in a Hurdle race over a trip probably too far (3m) and he must be showing something at home to attract favouritism. In four starts last summer, Mister Fisher started off with a 3l second at Warwick before two wins, at Cheltenham over this course and a Grade 2 at Doncaster beating Al Dancer 1l. He then finished 4l behind Samcro at Cheltenham. The surface obviously didn't suit on his reappearance last month here and he reportedly lost a shoe and pulled up after three out. Top Notch has won this twice at Huntingdon in 2017 and 2019. He has been off since beaten 8l by Frodon in a Grade 2 at Sandown in January. He has had a small precautionary wind op since and if he is fit can give a good account of himself. Fanion D'Estruval won three on the bounce in France lasts eason then came over to Venetia Williams and continued with a win at Newbury and finished up in December losing by 5l to Global Citizen in a Grade 2 at Kempton over Christmas. He resumed last month beaten just over 2l in a Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. He's an improving 5yo so could be in the mix stepping up in trip. Clondaw Castle looks to be improving following a couple of good runs this season. He looked a decent handicapper up to this but at Aintree in the Old roan in October he was second beaten just over 1l by Nuts Well and then went to Newbury where he beat a decent field in a valuable Handicap chase. He would not want any more rain as his trainer, Tom George, maintains he's better on good ground. Dolos has never won beyond 2m2f and he has been well beaten on three vIsits to Cheltenham and some suggest he's better going right handed. He has his second run back after after a wind op following his penultimate start in February He was beaten 10l here last time over 2m and if he copes going left handed he could be in the mix as he is the highest rated horse in the race. It's hard to have confidence in Glen Forsa whose form for his last six starts reads 11UP3F. The third came in November 2019 when he was just under 3l behind Kalshnikov. His trainer says he's come to himself now but others are preferred. Bun Doran is stepping into the unknown going up in trip and has been disappointing since winning the Grade 2 at Kempton last Christmas. In a wide open race Mister Fisher might be worth a shout provided there is no change in the Going.
Selection; Mister Fisher
Best Alternative; Top Notch
Cork (Soft To Heavy)
Hilly Way Chase (2m160y)
Paul Townend turns down the chance to ride i the Grade 1 John Durkan at Punchestown to ride Chacun Pour Soi in this Garde 2. He's rated 16lb better than his nearest rivals but has to carry a penalty which means conceding 8lb to them. He beat Defi Du Seuil in a Grade 1 at Punchestown May 2019, was beaten almost 4l by A Plus Tard in a Leopardstown Grade 1 last Christmas on Soft and won the Grade 1 Dublin Chase in February beating Min 3l. He was injured the morning of the Champion Chase but reports coming from Closutton are encouraging. Cash Back fell at the first at Naas on his reappearance fifteen days ago having fallen when well beaten in the Arkle at Chelgtenham. Prior to that he had finished second to Notebook beaten less than 1l in te Novice Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival. That followed to impressive wins in Novice Chases. I'd like to see him put in a clear round before investing in him. Since winning the Novice Grade 3 at the Cheltenham Festival, Chosen Mate has been unplaced in two Grade 3 Hurdles eitheer side of a Maiden Flat win in Killarney. Having beaten Cadmium in a Grade 2 at Navan in March 2019 Darasso was off the course until January this year and was unsuccessful in four starts, the last coming at Thurles where he was 32l and last of four over 2m6f behind Presenting Percy. He's back to probably his ideal trip here and he'll like the ground and wears first time cheek pieces. Daly Tiger got his toothache sorted and beat Tornado Flyer at Punchestown last month getting 13lb from the latter. He's always been held in high regard by his trainer but needs a career best to figure here. Sizing Pottsie and Djingle have race fitness but barring accidents all they can hope for are the crumbs. It's hard to oppose Chacun Pour Soi giving the jockey booking.
Selection; Chacun Pour Soi
Best Alternative; Darasso