Next Race Preview
Punchestown (Going; Yielding)
Mares Champion Hurdle (2m4)
Nine go to post for this Grade 1 as connections attempt to get some black type for their horses which could give added value to the progeny they sell on. Concertista wears a first time tongue tie and is clear favourite on the tissue at 11/10 with bookies going 4/1 and better the rest. As is usual in these races Willie Mullins is well represented with four runners and thre of them lead the betting. The favourite Concertista got chinned on the line by Black Tears at Cheltenham with Roksana 3l back in third. The tongue tie can concern me as it could signify a slight probelm with her wind so market moves should be noted. Stormy Island was one of the horses transferred to England over the summer and was runner up in three of her four starts there. She was bought by current connections for £75k in the January sales and returned to Mullins and she regained a fair portion of the sale price winning the Grade 2 at Fairyhouse beating French Dynamite just over 1l. Burning Victory hasn't been seen since winning the Triumph at Cheltenham in 2020 beating Aspire Tower almost 3l. As we saw with Klassical Dream a long lay off isn't a negative with a Mullins' horse. Skyace has done nothing but improve since the Shark Hanlon bought her out of the Mullins yard at the Ascot sales in November 2019 for £600 and by my estimation she's won just over £101k for present connections. On her last start she won the Garde 1 Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairhouse beating Gauloise by half a length and the latter went on to frank the form winning a Novice Listed Mares very comfortably at Punchestown on Thursday. Laurina was another who left Closutton for England but she bled on her only start there which was after a wind op and current connections paid big money for her to breed from. It's her first run for them and second run back after a wind op. It's hard to have confidence in her as she has bled a few times now. Minella Melody was 21l behond Concertista at Cheltenham having been over 6l behind her at Leoardstown at Christmas. There's a bit of a cloud over the De Bromhead yard so mayebe this is best watched. My Sister Sarah looks held by Concertista. I'm going to take a chance with Stormy Island.
Selection; Stormy Island
Best Alternative; Skyace
Champion 4yo Hurdle (2m)
First to get the bit of trivia out of the way. The dam of Palace Rock, Fingal Rock, fell in this race in 2010 and I hope that's not putting the mockers on the Casey runner. He 's one of the outsiders in a field of nine. Triumph winner Quilixios shades early favouritism from former stablemate Zanahiyr. Quilixios won readily that day having taken a keen hold early. Zanahiyr was nearly 5l back in fourth at Cheltenham and maybe needs a bit further on this better ground. Haut En Coleurs was having his first start for connectionswhen just over 3l back in third in the Triumph. He was a bit keen early on that day but it was just his second career start and improvemnet can be expected. Saint Sam looks held by the top two and was just 2l behind Jeff Kidder in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham. The latter went on to win the Grade 2 at Fairyhouse beating the highly regarded Teahupoo. David Cottin sends over Mica Magic from hius base in France and is a bit of an unknown. Given his connections market moves should be noted. As I write this Quilixios has drifted ominously from 6/4 to 9/4 and Haut En Coleurs my selection has hardened to 2/1.
Selection; Haut En Couleurs
Best Altrenative; Saint Sam
Punchestown (Going; Yielding)
Champion Hurdle (2m)
Honeysuckle is clear favourite to carry on her winning streak with Bookies going 4/7 with Epatante next at 9/2 and it's 10/1 and better the rest. Honeysuckle had Sharjah over 6l behind at Cheltenham with Epatante a further 3l back and Aspire Tower 11l behind his winning stablemate. Goshen hung badly right at Cheltenham and faded badly from three out and maybe going right handed will help here. But the way Honeysuckle powered away from the field was impressive and as this is only her fourth start of the season she is hard to oppose
Best Alternative; Sharjah
Champion Novices Hurdle (2m4f)
Bob Olinger had Gaillard Du Mesnil over 7l behind in second when winning the Ballymore at Cheltenham and they renew rivalry here. Bob Olinger came to the second last that day travelling strongly while his opponent was been scrubbed along to maintain his position and while the Mullins horses have been in rare order this week, on the face of it it's hard to see Gaillard Du Mesnil reversing placings. Ganapathi and Ashdale Bob are well held on ratings although the latter might benefit from the better ground and N'golo and Decimation have plenty to do at the ratings. I have to go with Bob Olinger.
Selection; Bob Olinger
Best Alternative; Gaillard Du Mesnil
Punchestown (Going; Yielding)
Champion Stayers Hurdle (3m)
A big field of fifteen will face the starter for this Grade. Flooring Porter completed the hat trick in the Stayers at Cheltenham in impressive fashion and the handicaper has been impressed enough to have raised him from a mark of 131 back in October to 164 which he runs off today. You wonder if he can maintain that style of running where he makes it all but connections appear happy enough and it was always the plan to come here. Ronald Pump hasn't been seen since chasing home Honeysuckle in the Hattons Grace last November. However his trainer is on the record as saying he would have loved to get a few more bits of work into him. Beacon Edge was over 5l behind Flooring Porter at Cheltenhalm where he may not have stayed up the hill. This track should suit him better if he has recovered from Cheltenham. Fury Road didn't seen to fire at Cheltenham but on his run before that had finished a neck behind Beacon Edge at Navan in February but looks held by Flooring Porter on his run behind him at leopardstown over Christmas although some of the stables horses were scoping dirty around then. The Storyteller has finished behind Flooring Porter twice this season and this is his tenth start since July. Klassical Dream hasn't been seen since December 2019 and wears a hood for the first time as he steps up in trip for the first time. Saldier is another stepping up in trip for the first time. Diol Ker was disappointing at Aintree while one who intigues me is Agrapart who three years ago was running off a mark of 161 but then lost his way. However he had a wind op prior to his last start which he won and connections must have seen something to justify sending him over from Devon. Hoever I'll stick with recent form and while it can go either way with horses returning from Cheltenham, Flooring Porter gets the nod with Baecon Edge as the Best Alternative.
Selection; Flooring Porter
Best Alternative; Beacon Edge
Ryanair Novice Chase (2m)
Energumene is short odds to see his four opponents off. He met with a setback before Cheltenham so come s here a fresh horse. He has the measure of Captain Guinness on previous form while the watering that they've done at Punchestown has left the ground a bit dead according to some jockeys and may not suit Janidil while Embittered ran today and must be doubtful.
Best Alternative; Janidil
Punchestown (Going; Good To Yielding)
Novice Hurdle (3m)
Eight are due to go to post for this Garde 1 and it's an intriguing contest. Galopin Des Champs and Vanillier, who both won at Cheltenham on their lates starts, are sharing favouritism as I write. The former put up a nice perfromance when conceding weight to most of his rivals when winning the Martin Pipe. On his run prior to that he was just over 9l behind Appreciate It in the Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival. It's his first go at this trip but he appeared to finish strongly over the 2m4f at Cheltenham. Vanillier caused a bit of a surprise winning the Albert Bartlet at the Festival with the trainer said the improvement in form could be accountes for the fact that the stable had been out of form. He had Steets Of Doyen over 12l back in third with Stattler a further 3l back in fourth and Torygraph almost 20l behind the winner. Stattler had finished just over 2l behind Vaniller when they met previously last November at Naas and maybe this flatter track migh help.Telmesomethinggirl won the Mares Dawn Run over 2m1f at Cheltenham having been beaten over 3l by Heaven Help Us on Soft To Heavy at Leopardstown. Gentlemansgame has only had four starts in his life winning his point and a Maiden Hurdle on his first two and finishing second and third on his latest. To me he was crying out for a step up in trip on his latest start and although his future is chasing he might be a bit of value here. Crosshill beat Vanillier when winning his maiden hurdle back in October but is rated 12lb inferior to that one. I'll take a chance with Gentlemansgame
Best Alternative; Galopin Des Champs
Punchestown Gold Cup (3m120y)
This has the makings of a cracking contest with six runners duec to face the starter and four of them trained by Willie Mullins. Al Boum Photo failed in his attempt at a third Gold Cup in March where he made a few mistakes. That was just his second start of the season so he should still have plenty in tye tank. However on the last renewal of this back in 2019 he was beaten 2l by stablemate Kemboy who reopposes. The latter was well behind at Cheltenham but I don't think that is his track. Prior to that he had beaten The Storyteller 2l in the Irish Gold Cup. Fakir D'oudairies steps up to this trip for the first time having been a very easy winner of The Melling Chase at Aintree last time. Melon was never travelling in the Marsh at cheltenham and Pulled Up after a bad mistake. That followed his 9l last of five behind Kemboy at Leopardstown. His best recent performances have been with Patrick Mullins in the plate and the partnership re-unites here. Easy Game won the Grade 2 chase at Fairyhouse over Easter and will have his ground here but has to find a bit on ratings. Clan Des Obeaux travels over from the Paul Nicholls yard. He obliterated the field in the Betway Bowl at Aintree three weeks ago benefiiting from the addition of Cheekpieces and if he has recovered in time he's worth taking a chance with.
Selection; Clan Des Obeaux
Best Altetrnative; Al Boum Photo
Champion INH Flat Race (2m70y)
Sir Gerhard and Kilcruit renew rivalry after just half a length seperated them in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham with the former coming out on top. Patrick Mullins switches to Sir Gerhard from Kilcruit here which must be significant. Lake Winniepeasaukee ran out on his only start at leopardstown last month. He took a strong hold, his saddle slipped and when in a commanding osition turning in he ran wide and took the wrong cours with his jockey saying he hadn't the strnhth to correct him. Eric Bloodaxe has his first start since February 2020 when he was down the field. But prior to that he had won his only other two starts including a victory over Ferny hollow. O'Toole has won his only start by 15l but the runner up has been well beaten since. Ramillies has been disappointing on his last two starts and wears a tongue tie for the first time. Sir Gerhard for me.
Selection; Sir Gerhard
Best Alternative; Kilcruit
Punchestown (Good To Yielding)
Champion Novice Hurdle (2m)
A disappointing field of five for this Grade 1 and the two Willie Mullins' horses are dominating the betting. Echoes In Rain is an exciting front runner who just bombs off in front. She's won her last two convincingly but was beaten nearly 7l around here in January. She gets a valuable 7lb mares allowance. Blue Lord was in the proces of running a big race behind stablemate Appreciate It in the Supreme when falling at the last. On his previous two starts he ahd finished about 6l behind the latter and Bob Olinger which might be good enough to go close here. Uhtred has obviously had problems having been off from December 2019 to Punchestown last February where he finished over 10l behind Thedevilscoachman. That was only his second start over hurdles and he may lack experience. Dewcup and Colonel Mustard have a lot to find on ratings but will pick up some valuable prize money. I'll take a chance with Blue Lord who should improve for the flatter track and better ground.
Selection; Blue Lord
Best Alternative; Echoes In Rain
Champion Chase (2m)
Seven go to post for this Grade 1 and again two Mullins horses top the market. Chacun Pour Soi was disappointing at Cheltenham having won his previous three starts impressively though his trainer thinks they got their tactics wrong and ddisn;t male enough use of him. Allaho drops back in trip having won the Ryanair over 2m4f. He's started to fulfill his promise now and if his quick jumping can be maintained he has a chance. Nube Negra has had just the two starts thism season and ran Put The Kettle On to half a length at Cheltenham. On ratings he has a bit to find. First Flow was over 6l behind Put The Kettle On at the Festival having run up a sequence. He made numerous mistakes that day and going back right handed will be a help although he might find the ground a bit quick. The rest look out of it and just scrapping for crumbs. Slight preference for Chacun Pour Soi
Selection; Chacun Pour Soi
Best Alternative; Allaho
Champion Novice Chase (3m120y)
Just four runners for this and Willie Mullins has three of them taking on Envoi Allen. Monkfish got the job done at Chelteham despit numerous mistakes which were unusual for him. He's alowed to take his chance here so must be pleasing connections. Envoi Allen steps up to 3m for the first time having fallen at the Festival. Rachel Blackmore takes over from Jack Kennedy and he's sure to have been schooled well by De bromhead. Colreevy has her first start over 3m under rules in a bid to run up a five timer. She gets the Mares allowance which could put her in the mix andshe has also been covered by Walk In The Park. I wouldn't rule her out. Franco De Port steps up to 3m for the first time in what is essentially a fact finding mission on where to go with him next year. I'll stick with Monkfish but fear a big run from Colreevy
Best Alternative; Colreevy
Ayr (Going; Good)
Scottish Champion Hurdle(2m)
Ten runners go to post Grade 2 Limited Handicap and betting suggests that it's almost a two horse race. Milkwood has been installed Favourite and on his last start he probably had an impossible task giving 11lb to Belfast Banter in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham when finishing just over 2l behind the winner in third. The latter then went on to win the Grade 1 Novices Hurdle at Aintree. Calico has won two of his three hurdle starts either side of a three parts of a length runner up spot behind Cape Gentleman in teeh Grade 2 Dovecote at Kempton with the two pulling over 7l clear of the rest. He hit the last and was subsequently found to have lost a shoe. Ana Bunina hasn't won in seven starts since beating Jon Ess at Sligo last August. On her most recent start she was a further 3l behind Milkwood in that County Hurdle. Diego Du Charmil was tailed off in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and had a break until fourteen days ago winning a handicap hurdle at Plumpton. Prior to that Kempton run he had a bit of decent form in three hurdle runs having reverted to Hurdles. Paul Nicholls puts up a 7lb claimer to offset his top weight. Tommy's Oscar has won four of his seven starts since joining Ann Hamilton from Colin Bowe for whom he broke his duck in Point To Points at the eight attempt. On his latest start he was in receipt of 8lb when Beating the useful Christopher Wood at Kelso. He's now racing off 138 and this is his tenth start since mid September including two points so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain progress. Thyme White is a second Nicholls' runner and was over 9l behind the winner in the County Hurdle. The Skeltons' are in tremenduous form and Calico can keep up the run as there should be further improvement against some very exposed rivals.
Best Alternative; Ana Bunina E.W.
Scottish Novices Champion Chase (2m4f110y)
There's nothing between Allmankind and Tamaroc Du Mathin on a strict line through Shishkin but what we do know is that the latter has won over this trip when beating Ga Law in the Grade 2 Pendil Novices Chase at Kempton in February, his last start. This has been his target and it will be interesting to see how he will get on against Allmankind who is rated 10lb superior. The latter likes to make the running and in the Arkle last month himself and Captain Guinness took each other on and paid the price and if he makes it here with his stamina in doubt he could set it up for a rival. Malystic hasn't run since mid January when he was third in a Jumps Bumper at Newcastle following two wins over fences having finished a 7l second to Protectorat on Chase debut. Whoshotthhesheriff has it all to do at the ratings.
Selection; Tamaroc Du Mathin
Best Alternative; Allmankind
Aintree (Going; Good To Soft)
Ballyadam was blown away by Appreciate in the Supreme Novices having finished just over 3l behind him in the Dublin Festival. Dreal Deal continues to improve but the form is suspect although anything seems possible with this horse. Minella Drama has some decent form with the form working out well. winning three of his last four and finishing second to Llandinabo Lad at Bangor giving that one 5lb. Adrimel puled up behind Vanillier in the Albert Bartlett and drops back in trip now. My Drogo haas won three of his four starts and missed Cheltenham to target this and although he's plenty short enough I think he can win.
Selection; My Drogo
Best Alternative; Minella Drama
Maghull Novices' Chase ( 1m7f176y)
Shishkin is unbackable at 1/8 but if anything was to befall him Gumball could pick up the pieces.
Best Alternative; Gumball
Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (3m149y)
Thyme Hill hasn't been seen since finishing a neck down to Pasley Park at Ascot in December. He'd beaten the latter at Newbury the previous run. Pasley Park was 5l back in third in the Cheltenham Stayers while Roksana who was third in the Above Ascot race but ran in the wrong race on the wrong ground at Cheltenham and will appreciate the step up in trip Lisnagar Oscar fell when tanking in the Cheltenham Stayers having shown signs of a return to form the previous run. Diol Ker could show well having run a big race at Gowran in the Galmoy onn his last start. Thyme Hill is the one for me
Selection; Thyme Hill
Best Alternative; Pasley Park
Balco Coastal gets the nod for this having bolted up on the all weather at Kempton with the runner up winning since. The Gossiper won his bumper after falling in two points but the form isn't working out. Nonetheless any thing Emmet Mullins sends over has to be respected. Knappers Hill beat stablemate Stage Star by 1l at Ascot in a Listed Bumper. These Bumpers are fraught with danger but I'll recommend a small wager and keep the notebook ready.
Selection; Balco Coastal
Best Alternative; The Gossiper
Aintree (Good To Soft)
Ten go to post for this Grade 1 and the market is headed bu Dusart who is a half brother to the ill-fated Simonsig who won eight of his thirteen starts but unfortunately had legs of glass. Dusart has had just one run when beating Soaring Glory who was conceding 6lb by just over 2l at Newbury back in Novemeber. The winner won going away that day in what was an eye catching performance. Third Time Lucki won hisfirst two hyrdles and then went down by almost 4l to For Pleasure. Onn jis last start he was beaten just over 3l by Belfast Banter who was receiving 14lb and re-opposes her on level terms. Ajero has won his last four but this is a step up. Any News unseated four out the last day and tipped up in his only point, He's won two of hosm hurdle starts and was runner up in the other to the useful Adrimel. For Pleasure was a 26l third to Appreciate It but was 15l behind Soaring Glory on his previous start, with the winner getting 12lb. Houx Gris was our selection in the Boodles at Cheltenahm but he ran with the choke out and did well to finish third almost 4l behind the winner Jeff Kidder who probably upgraded the form when winning the Grade 2 at Fairyhouse on Monday. The winner was getting 3lb that day and Houx Gris gets a valuable 4yo allowance of 6lb here having swerved the Juvenile Hurdle Thursday won by hs stablemate Monmiral and could be worh an each way selection.
Selection; Houx Gris E.W.
Best Alternative; Dusart
Mildmay Novices Chase (3m210y)
Chantry House, fresh from his victory in the Marsh at Cheltenham, steps up to 3m on thye track for the fiurst time thoiugh he did win his point at Tattersalls Farm in one of the fastest time of the day. Espoir Romay has won two of his three starts over fences and got a 15lb hike in the ratings for his last win. Whether it's justified or not remains to be seen. Fiddlerontheroof was no match for Monkfish at Cheltenham finishing over 6l back in second his fourth runner up spot in a row. Chantry House was 12l back in fifth in the Marsh but will appreciate the step back up in trip having won twice over the didtanc eincluding the Grade 1 Kauto Star at Kempton over Christmas where he had The Big Breakaway over 3l back in second. The latter was over 17l back in third behind Monkfish at Cheltenham and would probably like more give in the ground. On ratings Silver Hallmark has a fair bit to do but he did run Fiddlerontherooof, who has the benefit of a run, to a head on his chase debut last Novemebr. He had just one more run when winning a Grade 2 at Haydock in January. Sporting John regained some of the form he showed over hurdles when winning the Scilly Isles back in February over 2m4f. He lost touch three out in the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham so it's hard to have confidence in him. Empire Steel beat Protektorat 41L over an extended 2m7f but it's possible he was flattered by that as the runner up had a subsequent wind op and dropped back to 2m4f to win today. Chantry House looked like he'd benefit again from the step up and is the selection.
Selection; Chantry House
Best Alternative; Fiddleronthroof
The Melling Chase (2m3f200y)
Eight are scheduled to face the starter for this Grade 1. Fakir D'oufairies was withdrwan from his engagement at Fairyhouse the other day and pitches up here. His jumping performance when he last won back in December 2019 was spectacular but he's failed to win in six starts cince, finishing second in five of them, the lates when 12l runner up to Allaho at Cheltenham. Politologue has had just two starts this season winning the first and then no match for First Flow going down by 7l to First Flow'. He had to be withdrawn from his race at Cheltenham after blood was found in his nose. Dashel Drasher has won his last three and has has a break since the last one in February when he beat Master Tommytucker by 2l. The latter had beaten Clondaw Casstle the time before that in a Grade 2. Nuts Well did us a favour when winning the Old Roan here back in October which was his last start. I think the best he can hope for is a place. All of Notebook's recent form is over 2m and he has a bit to prove stepping back up in trip for the first time in ten starts. He beat Fakir D'oudairies at Naas by 12l back in November on Soft to Heavy but was over 9l behind Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham. Itchy Feet's jumping will have to improve if he's to be competitive off his mark while Duc Des Genievres has been disappointing on his last few starts having finished just over 1l to Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham back in November. Fakir d'oudairies doesn't have anything of the calibre of Allaho here and at this trip is the selection.
Selection; Fakirv D'oudairies
Best Alternative; Politologue
Sefton Novices' Hurdle (3m149y)
Bravemansgame steps up to this trip having been no match for Bob Olinger at Cheltenham where he was a 12l back third. He had won his previous thre starts but he did have a hard race last time according to his trainer Paul Nicholls who also claims that this is the only runner who did have a hard race at Cheltenham he has brought to Aintree. Cape Gentleman won a Grade 2 at Cheltenham onn his last start in February. prior to that he had pulled up aLeopardstown where he jumped to the right. His four wins have come on right handed tracks so it will be interesting to see how he goes left handed at Aintree. Streets Of Doyen ran up afour timer before being well beaten by Echoes Of Rain at Naas and then finishing a 12l third to Vanillier in the Albert Bartlett. He wears first time cheek pieces. Oscar Elite was 11l second to Vanillier in the Albert Bartlett. He won his first two hurdles starts but was well beaten on next two before that Cheltenham run. Nicky Henderson won this the last two years with Champ and Santini and runs a couple here. Gallyhill won his point with the runner up winning twice since under rules. Gallyhill then won his first start over hurdles in a 2m Novice at Newbury with the first two finishing well clear. He was then beaten just over 1l by Midnight River over an extended 2m3f at Ascot in February his only starts. He will surely benefit from the step up in trip. Prior to beatying Gallyhill, Midnight River had finished just under 4l back in fourth to Adrimel at Warwick. The ground is probably gone for Alaphillipe while Bothwell Bridge was over 10l behind Bravemansgame at Newbury and looks the second pick of the Henderson pair. The rest look to have plenty to do but this meeting throws up shocks. I'm going to take a chance with Gallyhill.
Best Alternative; Midnight River
Aintree (Good To Soft)
Manifesto Novices Chase (2m3f200y)
Just seven face the starter and four of them three of them ran at Cheltenham. However as we saw at Fairyhouse over the weekend it doesn't necessarily mean that a horses chances are weakened. Fusil Raffles had no answer to Chantry House who got a good jump at the last while the former stumbled on landing. I think the step up to 2m4f in his last two starts has helped Fusil Raffles and this track should suit. Hitman had a couple of bloodless wins in his four starts since arriving from France. However when stepped up to Grade 1 Class he was beaten by Allmankind and then fell when travelling strongly in the Scilly Isles last February. His second win came on his last start when he was given a confidence boost in a three horse race and won unchallenged by over 9l. He is prone to the odd mistake. The Shunter grabbed a large bonus when winning the Grade 3 Chase at Cheltenham having won his previous start in the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso. However this will be his third start in twenty one days and if he is to be competitive here he has to justify the 13lb rise in the ratings the Handicapper has given him. Connections don't seem to be able to make there mind up where to go with Eldorado Allen. At the start of the season they thought he was their Arkle horse and then at the beginning of the year he was going the Handicap route only to turn up in the Arkle. They've now decided to step him up in trip having finished a 12l second to Shishkin in the Arkle and I think it's what he's crying out for. He is however held on Scilly Isles form with Hitman. Protektorat has had wind surgery since beaten 41l back into second place at Kelso last February and wears a first time tongue tie. Unbrigado has won his three starts since the start of the year. Those three wins came after the application of Cheek Pieces and he's gone up 12lb in the ratings so is another who will have to justify his rating. Phoenix Way won three on the bounce , two Hurdles and his chase debut but then pulled up in the Scilly Isles where he took a keen hold but made numerous mistakes and lost touch. He hasn't been seen since but if he can settle and improve his jumping he can be involved as he likes these sharp tracks. In a tricky contest slight preference is for Fusil Raffles
Selection; Fusil Raffles
Best Alternative; Eldorado Allen
Doom Bar Juvenile Hurdle (2m209y)
Six go to post for this Garde 1 but the bookies have priced it a sa two horse race with the unbeaten Monmiral 4/5 and Adagio 2/1 and 12/1 and bigger the rest. Having won at Auteuil on his only start Monmiral has continued the winning run with the last of his three wins coming at Haydock where he beat Nassalam by over 7l. The latter had finished just over 2l back in second to Adagio in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow in January and the latter then went onto finish just over 3l back in second in the Triumph. Adagio won his first hurdle start around Warwick so should handle the track. Fiveandtwenty has won his last three, all at Musselburgh but his rating suggests he's a huge amount to find. Jon Locke made his hurdles debut in the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle at Kempton in February but was 21l behind the winner Tritonic. I said it often here that the Skeltons' don't tilt at Windmills so market moves should be noted. Having won in France Paros finally got off the mark at the third time of asking for current connections when winning at Musselburgh. He's another to watch out for in market moves. Carlos Felix is a second Skelton runner who has had just the one start over hurdles where he finished 52l behind Fiveandtwenty after which he had wind surgery. Paul Nicholls had a number of entries in this and Monmiral is taken to keep up the good run.
Best Alternative; Adagio
Betway Bowl Chase (3m210y)
It looks a tricky enough contest for this Garde 1 with nine going to post. Clann Des Obeaux has disappointed around Cheltenham a couple of times so connection missed it this year with this race in mind. However he hasn't won in four starts since his King George triumph in December 2019. He's run a couple of good races since then and obviously Paul Nicholls thinks he needs sharpening up and fits the cheekpieces for the first time. Waiting Patiently has been lightly raced since unseating Brian Hughes in the 2018 renewal of the King George and has failed to win in those five starts. However he has shown a bit of spark in his tow starts this season finishing just over 2l behind Frodon and 4l ahead of Clan Des Obeaux in the King George last December. He dropped back to 2m1f on his second and last start for the Clarence House at Ascot but couldn't match First Flow and Politilogue finishing a 9l third. He's yet to win at this trip but the flat track should help. Native River was no match for the winner in the Gold Cup finishing 30l back in fourth. Prior to that he had beaten Bristol De Mai at Sandown. He's won around the course and distance twice but 11yo's don't have a good recent record in the race. Tiger Roll turns up here instead of the Grand National and it will be interesting to see how he copes with park fences around a sharp track. Clondaw Castle will handle the track and looked to benefit from then step up to 3m for the first time when winning a Grade 3 at Kempton on his last start in February conceding weight all around. Back in December he was beaten over 7l by Mister Fisher over 2m4f at Cheltenham. The latter made numerous jumping errors on his next start in the Ryanair last month and eventually pulled up. He steps up to this trip for the first time. Real Steel has had just two runs since transferring to Paul Nicholls over the summer finishing over 7l to Imperial Aura over 2m5f at Ascot in November and pulling up when weakening quickly before two out in the King George. A few question marks about some of them but the race might be run to suit Waiting Patiently who gets the nod.
Selection; Waiting Patiently
Best Alternative; Clan Des Obeaux
Aintree Hurdle (2m4f)
Eleven go to post for this competitive Grade 1 and it's a bit of a surprise to see Jason The Militant installed as favourite as his best form is on soft ground and his trainer Henry De Bromhead just hopes he handles what at the moment is describes as Good To Soft. He beat Petit Mouchoir by over 7l conceding the runner up 9lb. Prior to that he had gone down by a neck and a short head to Abracadabras and Saint Roi. Abracadabras disappointed next time at Leopardstown but scoped badly post race and then was a 10l runner up to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle and didn't get far in the Cheltenham version falling at the third. He steps up to this trip for the first time. Brewin'upastorm reverted to hurdles after a few disappointments over fences and seemed to relish it winning both starts, the latter when beating McFabulous in a Grade 2 at Fontwell by over 5l albeit in receipt 6lb. McFabulous renews rivalry again and is now 6lb better off and is a course winner so you would think he might be able to reverse placings. On his comeback run after an absence Buveur D'Air finished a short head second in the Fighting Fifth and then went down by just over 4l to Navajo Pass in the three runner Grade 2 Unibet Hurdle at Haydock. Buzz steps out of handicap company where he's progressed up the ratings by 16lb and steps up in trip for the first time but has a few pound to find with those above. Song For Someone completed a hat trick of Grade 2's when beating Silver Streak by a nose overv 2m1f at Cheltenham in December but on his next start at Wincantonn in February he was a 22l runner up to Goshen with the third horse a further 19l back. It's hard to know what to make of that run. Not So Sleepy beat Buzz by just under 2l on his penultimate start getting 6lb from the runner up and then was 13l back in fifth behind Honeysuckle at Cheltenham. Connections of Silver Streak are not sure whether he'll stay this trip but take their chance. If Abracadabras settles he could have the speed to take this and gets the selection.
Best Alternative; McFabulous
Goffs UK Mares National Hunt Flat Race (2m209y)
Plenty of pinters are latching on to Eileendover for this and you can see why as apart from her form she is beautifully bred by Canford Cliffs out of a daughter of 1000 Guineas winner Speciosa. Unbeaten in her three starts in Bumpers, the first two by extended distances and then winning a Listed Mares Bumper at Market Rasen beating Miss Lamb by 6l with Grangee a further 2l back in third. The latter went on to win a Grade 2 Mares at the Dublin Festival with the runner up, Party Central, winning a Listed Mares at fairyhouse last week. Grangee went on to be sixth, beaten just over 16l, in the Cheltenham Bumper. Elle Est Belle is a course and distance winner having been successful on her debut last October. She won a Listed Mares the following month at Cheltenham after which she had a break until finishing a 7l third to Sir Gerhard in the Cheltenham Bumper. Another beautifully bred Mare is the Arthur Moore trained Me Too Please who is out of a half sister to Oaks winner Love Divine who herself is the dam of St. Leger Winner and successful sire Sixties Icon. She got off the mark on her second and latest start at Down Royal three weeks ago beating The Mean Queen by just over 2l. Market Moves should be noted. Wheres Maud Gonne has won her two starts and the form is working out reasonable well. Mind Sunday has her second start after a wind op which seemed to turn her inside out as she put two disappointing point to point runs behind her by winning a Mare's Newbury Bumper by over 9l. Finest View is a well related filly trained by Alan King who has won this twice. She won her only start in a Maiden Bumper around Lingfield's all weather track and her trainer doesn't want any more rain. There are a few other previous winners in the race who might surprise but I'll take a chance with Mind Sunday (Each Way) who is a half sister to the prolific winner Master Dino and whose trainer Nicky Henderson has won this twice with a couple of outsiders. (E.W. 20/1 available with Paddy Power)
Selection; Mind Sunday
Best Alternative; Elle Est Belle
Fairyhouse (Going; Good)
Rathbarry and Glenview Studs Juvenile Hurdle (2m)
Eight have been declared for this Grade 2 but Zoffanien ran in Cork on Sunday anfd it would be a surprise to see him turn out again. So unfortunately that does away with a bit of each way value in a race where Teahupoo is a short priced favourite to add to his three wins from three starts. The first of thse came at Auteuil with the runner up, Gold Ball, winning two of his next three starts which were all at Newbury. Teahupoo then won his next two starts around this course and distance by 15l and 7l the latter in a Grade 3 where Scholastic was 19l back in fourth. The wins came on Heavy and Soft but if he handles the ground he looks the one to beat. Jeff Kidder caused a big price shock when winning the Boodles at Cheltenham. On his previous start he had finished almost 9l and last of seven to Zanahiyr. He won over the inner track here back in November but was a 6l beaten favourite when second to Scholastic at Punchestown in September where a a couple of sketch jumps at the last two hurdles didn't help. He's reported to have come out of Cheltenham really well. Busselton wears first time blinkers having disapointed in the Boodles where a mistake four out seemed to unsettle him and he never travelled after that. Two runs previous to that he ahd finished 4l behind Zanahiyr and ahead of Jeff Kidder at Leopardstown. The well bred Coventry failed to spark in two starts on the flat for Ballydoyle and changed hands privately. He was second on hurdles debut and then fell around the inner course here in February both on Heavy. It's possible he benefitted for better ground at Navan two weeks ago where he ran out a comfortable 7l winner from Ya Ya Baby who won comfortably in Cork this Sunday. Nazine has had just two starts both at Navan and won the second of them with a bit of ease two weeks ago. Behind The Wall won his only start over hurdles when geting home in Heavy ground at Limerick three weeks ago. His previous four runs for connections had all been at Dundalk. This is a big step up. If he handles the ground Teahupoo should win but he's pretty short for unknown on the going so I'll take a chance with Jeff Kidder.
Selection; Jeff Kidder
Best Alternative; Coventry
Underwriting Exchange Hurdle (2m4f)
Beacon Edge was over 5l back in fourth in the Stayers at Cheltenham where he maybe didn't see it out fully and it will be interesting to see how he copes back in trip having won his previous start over 2m5f on Heavy ground at Navan. He has some very good form but because of it he has to concede weight to his rivals. The Bosses Oscar ran a great race under a big weight in the Pertemps at Cheltenham finishing a 5l runner up to Mrs Milner' He's dropping back in trip here which is a concern. French Dynamite won last time over an extended 2m2f. The 3m of the Stayers at Leopardstown at Christmas seemed to far for him as he weakened on the run in. He beat The Bosses Oscar over the trip at Thurles in February last year but the latter is 7lb better off for a 2l defeat. Stormy Island is back with Willie Mullins having ben bought at the recent sales. She's a course winner and gets the Mares allowance. Unexpected Depth drops back in trip having run over 3m on his last three starts. He's risen 34lb in the ratings over the last eighteen months but will probably have to run a career best to win here. Sixshooter has some decent form and I think the better ground here will help. Four starts ago he beat Kilfenora at Punchestown on Yielding. He wears first time cheekpieces and with some of his opponents having had hard races at Cheltenhma and have to conced weight to him Sixshooter gets a sporting chance.
Best Alternative; French Dynamite
Devenish Chase (2m4f)
Fakir D'oudairies was no match for Allaho at Cheltenham finishing 12l back in second spot a position he had finished in four of his previous five starts havinhg pulled up in the other. His last win came in thye Drinmore in December 2019 where he put in a spectacular round of jumping. At Cheltenham he wasn't as fluent making a number of mistakes. Battleoverdoyen has struggled in the Heavy ground on his last two starts and was blowing heavily after a shocker at Thurles on his last start in January. On his seasonal debut he beat Easy Game 6l on a Yielding surfacein the Grade 2 at Down Royal in October. Easy Game beat The Storyteller in the Grade 2 at Gowran in October and is another who will appreciate the better ground. Castlegrace Paddy has it all to do on ratings and would probably need more juice in the gtound. Annamix won over 2m1f here in January 2020 and didn't reappeasr until last November when beating Spyglass Hill at Gowran. He's disappointed in three starts since. Snow Falcon hasn't won since October 2019 and has his first start since November. He wears first time cheekpieces. Ornua hasn't won since winning a Grade 1 at Aintree two years ago. Sizing Pottsie pulled up at Cheltenham having won around here in December. I'll give Fakir D'oudairies another chance.
Selection; Fakir D'oudairies
Bdest Alternative; Battleoverdoyen
Fairyhouse (Going; Yielding, Good to Yielding in places)
Pady Kehoe Novice Hurdle (2m)
The Going at the moment is yielding, god to yielding in places but might well change to Good all around by post time on Sunday and it's quite likely that we will have some shock results with mist of the form, especially for the novices, on soft or heavy going. Echoes In Rain won a Grade 2 at Naas back in February on her last start beating Belfast Banter by 8l despite racing keenly with the runner up conceding 8lb to the winner. She has to carry a 6lb penalty for that and has never won or run on ground better tahn good to soft. Thedevilscoachman has been kept for this since winning at Punchestown in mid February. That was his fourth win from five starts with his defeat coming when 20l behind Appreciate It at Christmas. Master McShee got stone bruise during the wek and might be doubtful. He was beaten just over 2l by Appreciate It on his seasonal debut back in November and went on to win hus next two starts impressively before been beaten over 16l by Appreciate It at Leopardstown. If he turns up he would have a chance. Grand Bornand was beaten over 11l by Thedevilscoachman on his first start in Ireland and then finished a 9l runner up to Grand Paradis before winning on his third and latest start at Leopardstown in March on Good to Yielding ground beating Gee Rex by 5l. Looks second choice for stable. Call Me Lyreen won his first three starts before disappointing at Christmas when a lot of the Elliott horses were scoping badly.. He is already a Grade 2 winner so has to carry a penalty which means conceding wait o all his rivals. M C Muldoon was rated 100 at one stage on the flat but was off the track for two years before his hurdles debut around Leopardstown at Christmas where he was an 11l fourth to Wide Reveiver. He then won around this course and distance in February. The form of that race doesn't look particularly strong but he is sure to improve again and he's highly regarded by connections. Desir Du Large was beaten over 10l by Echoes In Rain at Naas in Februatry but that was his first run in over two years so he should improve. Razzle Dazzle Love looks held while Colonel Mustard is still a maiden over Hurdles. Patrick Mullins rides M C Muldoon for his mother and he might reward us at a big price.
Selection; M C Muldoon
Best Alternative; Grand Bornand
EBF MAres Novice Hurdle (2m4f)
Fourteen go to post for this and quite a few of them are backing up just seventeen days after running at Cheltenham. Roseys Hollow is one of these but her best form has come on Heavy ground. Atlantic Fury has had just five start including a point but has won the last two with the latest at Navan in February where she had Global Equity just under 2l back in second with The Sliding Rock a further 9l back in fourth. Rhythm Divine won her last start, around this course and distance, in February beating Ten Ten by 5l. Back in October, three starts ago, she was a half length runner up to Buildmeupbuttercup in a Listed Mares Hurdle on Good Ground. Royal Illusion was rated 94 on the flat and has had just the two starts over Hurdles. She was third behind Delvino and Castra Vetera on Heavy ground beaten almost 6l by the winner at Naas in December before winning her Maiden at Leopardtwon back in early March on yielding. She will have no prblem with the ground. Gauloise was well beaten at Cheltenham and had finished over 3l behind Roseys Hollow the time before that but had beaten Mighty Blue and Global Equity on her previous two starts. both at Thurles. There is a question mark regarding the ground for me. Skyace was beaten over 9l at Cheltenham but had won four of her previous eight starts with The Sliding Rock 5l behind her on her penultimate start. Glens Of Antrim was over 12l behind in that Novice Mares at Cheltenham and is still a maiden after just four starts over Hurdles. Hook Up didn't jump well in Cheltenham and had four of these ahead of her at the finish where she was 26l behind the winner which was disapointing considering her previous two starts where she ran well. A lot of questions to be answered but I'll take a chance with Royal Illusion who might only be the third choice of the Mullins team but will appreciate the ground.
Selection; Royal Illusion
Best Alternative; Rhythm Divine
Colm Quinn BMW Novices Hurdle (2m4f)
Ten go to post foer this Grade 2 but with the Ground likely to be Good it's probably a race best watched with a lot of them having no form on the expected going. There's no doubt that Gentlemansgame has the best form ion show having beaten Gaillard Du Mesnil by 5l in the Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival with the latter finishing a 7l runner up to Bob Olinger at Cheltenham. Gentlemansgame has had only three starts including a point so he lacks a bit of experience but if he handles the ground he should win. Grand Paradis has won his last two starts, the last by 13l from Goodbye Someday who was rated 140. However those wins were on Heavy going. Gabynako was hampered and unseated his rider at the first in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham. Three starts ago he had finished just under 9l behind Bob Olinger in the Grade 1 Lawlors at Naas which is a fair level of form. The ground should be ok. Egality Mans has been very lightly raced with one start in France in March 2018 before two in Ireland in April and December 2019 before winning his Maiden at Naas in February this year. Jockey bookings suggest he's the pick of the stables four. Ashdale Bob won his first two starts of the season before falling early at Naas and then was beaten a long way at the Dublin Festival. It's hard to see any of the rets winning on form so I'll take a chance with Gentlemansgame to handle the ground.
Best Alternative; Gabynako
Gold Cup Novice Chase (2m4f)
Nine go to post and the questions are will Asterion Forlange put in a clear round and how much has Cheltenham taken out of him where he finished a 5l third to Chantry House in the Marsh Chase. Andy Dufresne was a 17l third to Monkfish and Latest Exhibition at the Dunlin Festival ansd had won his two previous starts over fences. Conflated was 6l behind Asterion Forlonge at Punchestown in November on Soft to Heavy but was 61l behind Monkfish at Christmas. He won a poor Grade 3 at Naas thre weeks ago. Scarlet And Dove has been kept busy and this is her seventh starts since late November. She was runner up in the first two and won three of the next four and fell in the other. Franco De Port was a surprise winner of the Grade 1 at Christmas before finishing 8l second to Energumene at the Dublin Festival and was a 50lm last of five to Shishkin at Cheltenham where he didn't jump well. He is the highest rated in this race. Janadil fell last time at Leopardstown having been beaten a long way by Colreevy in Limerick at Christmas. Cedarwood Road takes a big step up while January Jets interests me as an Each Way prospect on this beter ground. He was a 6l second to Envoi Allen on chase bebut at Down Royal before finishing just over 6l in third behind Janadil at Naas on Soft to Heavy and then won on Yielding at Leopardstown over Christmas. I'll take a chance with Andy Dufresne.
Selection; Andy Dufresne
Best Alterbative; Januaryn Jets (E.W.)
Cheltenham (Good To Soft)
Triumph Hurdle (2m179y)
Just eight go to post for what used to be a bit of a cavalry charge but not anymore. Zanahiyr wears a first time tongue tie for some reason having won his inly three starts over hurdles. He started off at Ballinrobe back in October but it was his next run at Fairyhouse that really caught the eye where he made smooth headway to lead two out and quickened clear beat the odds on favourite Saint Sam 14l. The latter ran a huge race under a big race in the Fred Winter on Wednesday. Tritonic was rated 99 on the flat and has made the transition to jumps well winning his first start by 1l and appearing to improve on that when beating then same runner up by 10l. He has a good burst of speed and on the whole his jumping is good. Quilixios started off over hurdles in Compiegne with a win and has continued in that vein in three subsequent starts in Ireland culminating in a 5l win over Saint Sam in a Grade 1 at leopardstown. Adagio got off the market first time of asking for connections having arrived from Fradnce where she won one of three starts. He then finished a 5l second to Duffle Coat before winning his subsequent two starts including a Garde 1 where he had Nassalam over 2l behind. Haut En Coleurs makes his debut for Mullins having won his only start in France with the third winning twice since including a Grade 3. It's hard to see others being involved. There's not a whole lot between the top three but preference is for Zanahiyr.
Best Alternative; Tritonic
Albert Bartlett Novoces Hurdle (2m7f213y)
Fakiera hassome good form in the book and on his last run he was a 7l fourth to Gaillard Du Mesnil in the Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival over 2m6f and doing hias best work at the finish suggesting he will appreciate this trip. My one worry is the ground. Stattler was third in that Leopardstown race having won his maiden hurdle the previous start beating Glens Of Antrim 3l but he's yet to run on anything other than soft or heavy. Torygraph wears first time chee pieces and has won his last two starts stepping up in trip. He's sure to stay and the trainer says he won't mind better ground. On his penultimate start he beat Velvet Elvis who has won twice since. Streets Of Doyen won around the Old Course here over 3m on Good To Soft back in October on his penultimate start completing the four timer the remaining three on Good ground. On the second of those wins he beat Flooring Porter at Gowran over 3m although he was in reipt of 14lb from the Champion Stayer. The ground is key as he was disappinting on his last start at the end of February on Soft albeit over an inadequate trip. Barbado's Buck's completed the hat trick on his last start at kempton back in January over an extended 3m so should have no trouble staying here and should act on the ground. His stablemate Threeunderthrufive has completed a four timer but this is a step up. Adrimel and Alaphilippe have won plenty of races although the former was very disappointing here last year. N'golo takes a big step up from 2m having been beaten a long way by Appreciate It on his last two. Torygraph is going in the right direction and could go in here.
Best Alternative; Threeunderthrufive
Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (3m2f70y)
Twelve go to post as Al Boum Photo attemts to win his third title and join some immortals. He's had the same prep as last year with a long break then a spin around Tramore on New Year's Day to set him up. He won on Good to Soft last year when beating Santini a neck. A Plus Tard surprised a few when winning the Savills Chase over 3m at Leopardstown over Christmas on his first step up to the trip. The ground won't bother him but whether he stays up the hill over those extra two furlongs remains to be seen. Champ came from the clouds to snatch the RSA from Minella Indo last year. He's had an interupted prep and his jumping at times can be a bit hairy. However it seemed fine when returning for the first time at Newbury last month over what many thought was an inadequate trip and ran Sceau Royal to 2l. Minella Indo, having won two handy races in October/ November fell in the Savills and then faded out to be almost 7l behind Kemboy in the Irish Gold Cup. Henry De Bromhead believes we'll see a different horse here and I think he can be a surprise package. Santini has been disappointing on his last two starts and wears a visor for the first time. Hoever with ground drying out I think he might struggle. Frodon has a good record on the New Course at Cheltenham and this seasons King George winner might run well although I think the Race at Kempton fel apart a bit and he got an easy lead with Native River sure to set the pace. The latter's connection would hope for rain but that's not forecast. Connections of Royal Pagaille are probaly regretting not running on Tuesday when there was more juice in the ground. Kemboy's jumping has let him down more than once and despite his victory at leopardstown I'll swerve him here. Lostintranslation has had two wind ops either side of three runs and on his only start after the latest one he was well beaten in a Garde 2 at Newbury. He was only beaten just over 1L in this last year and the stable is showing signs of a return to form but it's hard to have confidence in him. I'll take a chance with Minella Indo E.W.
Selection; Minella Indo E.W.
Best Alternative; Champ E.W.
The Liberthine's Mares Chase (2m4f127y)
Elimay is going to go off at odds on following the sensational win of Allaho today. On her penultiamte start she was beaten 3l by him with the trwo pulling 79l clear of the rest in a quick time. She won't mind the ground either. Colreevy is no back number and on her last start beat today's winner Moiunt Ida by 12l giving the runner up 5lb. That completed a hat trick. Shattered Love won the old JLT around this course and distance in 2018 but has struggled to win since, being successful just twice in seventeen starts. On her two starts this season Salseretta has fallen and been beaten 45l by Augusta Gold. Given that she won all four starts last season includin an 8l win over Galvin that's been disappointiing. Magic Of Light will like the ground but I'm worried the trip might be a bit short for her. It's hard to see past the top two with the ground drying out.
Best Alternative; Colreevy
Cheltenham (Going; Good To Soft)
The Golden Miller Chase (2m3f168y)
Envoi Allen is unbeaten in twelve starts and is odds on to continue that run here. Seven runners are due to oppose him but the betting suggests they're fighting for the minor placings. Envoi Allen was last seen at Punchestown in January where he was an easy winner in a race where Asterion Folonge fell at the first. That was his third win and he'll come here a fresh horse and following a similar programme in terms of spacing of races to last year. Chantry house, who was third in the Supreme last year, has won two out his three Chase starts, the defeat coming when a 14l third to Fusil Raffles over an extended 2m4f on this course last December. Shan Blue has won and been runner up on his last two starts both Grade 1's. He beat The Big Breakaway over 3m at Kempton at Christmas and then was second to Sporting John when dropped back in trip at Sandown. Prior to the Kempton run he has beaten Snow Leopardess by 16l on Good To Soft at Wetherby. Chatham Street Lad won a Grade 3 Handicap around this course in December but was beaten 12l by Daly Tiger who was giving him 1lb at Fairyhouse in January. Fusil Raffles surprised me with that win around here last time as I thought soft ground was against him as that was the excuse for pulling him up here in November. It'll be interesting to see how he performs in this company over this trip but I think the Going is a big positive and he could outrun his odds. Having fallen on his two previous starts, Asterion Forlonge completed the course finishing 18l behind Monkfish at leopardstown however it's hard to have confidence in him. Blackbow steps up from 2m for the first time although he won his point over 2m4f and I've thought for a while he needed this as he kept finding one too good for him. He's interesting at a big price. Darver Star was disappointing behind Energumene at Lleopardstown in February and steps up in trip here on ground that should be more suitable. Envoi Allen is hard to opose and Fusil Raffles might be an E.W. alternative.
Selection; Envoi Allen
Best Alternative; Fusil Raffles E.W.
Ryanair Chase (2m4f127y)
A big field of fourteen for this Grade 1 and it's a wide open contest with Allaho and Min 5/1 joint favourites as I write. Allaho was beaten a long way by Min in the John Durkin in December where he apparently jumped poorly and then probably found the 3m of the Savill's too far at Christmas but got a confidence boost at Thurles over 2m4f where despite not been fluent at the last two fences went clear on the run in to beat the useful Elimay by 3l with the two of them pulling 79l clear of the rest. Having won the John Durkin on his first start since winning last year's renewal of this, Min jumped poorly over the shorter trip at Leopardstown at Christmas and the step back up here where they will probably go a stride slower will help. Melon was beaten a nose by Samcro in the Novice here last year and keeps finding one or two to beat him. He was beaten over 7l by Min in the John Durkin and 2l by A Plus Tard in the Savills and was last. Saint Calvados of the five in the Irish Gold Cup. Imperial Aura completed a hat trick at Ascot in November having started the run beating Galvin in the Novice Handicp over 2m4f at the meeting last March. However he unseated at the second on his last start. Fakir D'oudairies is interesting back at this trip. His display in the Drinmore back in December 2019 over 2m4f was spectacular. He jumped for fun and while he may have benefitted from the fall Samcro at the second last it was an impressive performance.. He was runner up on his next three starts including here in the Arkle and he probably found the trip in the Savills too far and was puklkled up. He was not disgraced when an 8l second to Chacun Pour Soi last month having briefly led before the last. Mister Fisher was just over 4l behind Samcro here last year when finishing fourth. He piulled up on his next start in November before winning here over an extended 2m3f mid December. This is his first start since. Samcro was over 6l behind Battleoverdoyen on his season debut at Down Royal before Pulling Up in the Savills. Saint Calvados, beaten a neck by Min here last year, drops back in trip after two efforts at 3m this season an 8l fourth to Frodon at Kempton and unseating at Sandown last month. Having been a 33l third behind Master Tommytucker back in November, his first start since December 2019, Dashel Drasher completed the hat trick by turning the tables on the Master Tommytucker by 2l at Ascot last month where all three of the wins came. Real Steel and Chris's Dream look held on recent form with some of these while Kalshnikov wears first time cheek pieces to try and revitalise him. In a wide open race Fakir D'oudairies could have an each way chance
Selection; Fakir D'oudairies E.W.
Best Alternative; Melon E.W.
Stayers' Hurdle (2m7f213y)
Fifteen runners go to post and the 2019 Champion Paisley Park is the Favourite. After his disappointing run last year he was found to have a fibrillating heart. He was left off to November when he was beaten just over 1l by Thyme Hill but reversed taht form on his next start in the Long Walk at Ascot Mid December when getting up to win by a neck. He's been rested since then which is different to previous seasons when he had a run in January. Sire Du Berlais has won the Pertemps Final at the Festival for the last two years beating The Storyteller, who was receiving 3lb, by half a length a year ago. He next appeared at Navan in November where he beat the well regarded French Dynamite half a length in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle. He was beaten almost 7l by Flooring Porter on his only other start in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown where he lost second spot by three parts of a length to The Storyteller near the finish and was just over 2l ahead of Fury Road who finished fourth with Bacardys pulling up. Since finishing second here last year The Storyteller, apart from pulling up in the Galway Plate, has never been out of the first two mixing hurdles and fences with his best perfromance coming in the Grade 1 chase at Down Royal in October where he beat Chris's Dream by a neck. Significantly he's rated 9lb better over fences. Vindication has his first run over Hurdles in over three years where he was three from three in the discipline. . He's only had eight starts over fences in those three years with his best run probably coming in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby last October when second 2l behind Cyrname. However he unseated next time and has been absent after banging a joint..He has won off long breaks previously. Lisnagar Oscar won this last year but had a wind op after two disappointing runs in the Autumn. He showed the benefit from it when putting up a game effort when going down by three parts of a length to Third Wind at Haydock four weeks ago. It remains to be seen how much that took out of him. Flooring Porter has to be respected having beaten The Bosses Oscar and The Storteller by 12l and 6l on his last two runs. I was in Bellewstown in August 2019 when he won his Maiden Hurdle off a mark of 95. He's now 160 having risen 24lb for those two wins. Beacon Edge steps up to this trip for the first time having beaten Fury Road a neck over 2m5f at Navan four weeks ago on Heavy in a slow run race. I can forgive the latter's poor run at Christmas as the stable was under a cloud with their horses running below par and give him a chance here. If The Cap Fits reverts to hurdles here and could be each way value. I'm going with Fury Road who can take a step forward here.
Selection; Fury Road
Best Alternative; Flooring Porter E.W.
The Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle (2m179y)
Willie Mullins has won the five previous renewals of this and has four runners tomorrow. However it's Roseys Hollow from Jonathan Sweeney's small stable in County Cork who shares favouritism with Peter Fahy's Royal Kahlua the two of them having finished first and second respectively at Fairyhouse five weeks ago. On the run before that Roseys Hollow had won her maiden at the third attempt also at Fairyhouse both wins coming on Heavy going. Prior to that defeat Royal Kahala had won three on the bounce, all at Fairyhouse, at distances from 2m to 2m4f. On the last win she beat Hook Up by 5l giving her 3lb. Those wins came on soft twice and heavy. Glens Of Antrim, one of the Mullins runners, is beautifully bred. A full sister to Minella Melody out of a full sister to the prolific Glens Melody, who won twelve times for Mullins. She is still a maiden after three runs but has some very good form. On her penultimate start she was a 3l runner up to Stattler over 2m4f at Leopardstown while on her last start she was runner up, beaten jut over 4l, to Mr Incredible over 2m3f on Heavy ground at Naas with the two pulling 33l clear of the rest.. The winner had been a 9l second to Gaillard Du Mesnil at leopardstwon before that and the form was given a boost by the latters good run behind Bob Olinger in the Ballymore. Tellmesomethinggirl has plenty of experience and should appreciate the better ground. She was third on her last start beaten just over 3l by Heaven Help Us, who was receiving 9lb, in a Mares class B handicap hurdle at Leopardstown last month and that form got a boost today. The runner up at leopardstown, Global Equity had beaten Roseys Hollow 4l the run before. Gauloise was third to Roseys Hollow and Royal Kahala the last day but her jockey felt she had run a bit flat. She had won her other three starts before that, a French Bumper, a Maiden Hurdle where Global Equity was over 5l back in second and then a Listed Mares. Like Roseys Hollow she has to carry a 5lb penalty here. Hook Up was beaten over 7l by Appreciate It the last day when her jumping wasn't fluent. Willie Mullins says the drying ground will help her more than any of his horses this week. My one concern is that she flopped in the Triumph last year having run the winner to just under 5l on her previous start which was her first in nearly eleven months having come from France. It could also be that running again within three weeks was too soon. If she's allowed bowl along in front as she was at Fairyhouse when she won it may suit her better than being held up. The runner up in that race has won twice since. The Glancing Queen has won twice but was beaten on Heavy ground in a Listed Hurdle the last day. Back in December she was a 10l third to Bravemansgame in the Challow. Shark Hanlon is bullish about Skyace and it would be ironic if a horse bought for £600 out of the Mullins Yard won here. She's won four of her eight starts since that sale and won a Grade 3 at Down Royal the end of October and on her only start since then won a listed Mares in Earky December. Mighty Blue was rated 106 on the Flat and has been highly tried in three starts over hurdles. She's 5lb better off with Gauloise for a 3l beating in Thurles in December and is 4lb better off with Roseys Hollow for a 6l beating in the Fairyhouse Grade 3 where she was nearly 3l behind Gauloise getting 4lb. So make of that what you will. Magic Daze was third to Gaillard Du Mesnil beaten 18l with Mr. Incredible 8l in front of her on her first start under rules. She had won her only point and after her first hurdle run won a Mares Maiden at Clonmel with the third, beaten 29l, winning next time. The trainer says she'll improve for better ground. Any money for the others should be noted but I'll take a chance with Hook Up with Royal Kahala in the mix as well
Selection; Hook Up
Best Alternative; Royal Kahala
Cheltenham (Going; Good To Soft)
Ballymore Novices Hurdle (2m5f)
A disappointing field of seven go face the starter for the opener on day 2 and it has the makings of a cracking race. Bob Olinger was mightily impressive in his three s over hurdles finishing a 1l runner up to Ferny Hollow on debut, winning his next start by 14l and then beating Blue Lord over 6l in the Grade 1 Lawlor's at Naas in January his only starts over hurdles to date. He won his point on Yielding so hopefully there will be no Going issues. Gaillard Du Mesnil has had just the three starts over hurdles since arriving from France where he won once and was runner up four times in six starts in Bumpers. His win came over 1m4f on Good ground. He made his Irish debut after a thirteen month break and was beaten 8l into second place by Holymacapony but turned the tables on that one in no uncertain fashion in the Grade 1 at Leopardstown leaving him 39l back in the pack. Stattler, who is rated 146 was 5l back in third. Bravemansgame got his hurdling career off to a promising start going down to Soaring Glory by hakf a length at Chepstow, He won his subsequent three starts the last in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle although the race felll apart somewhat. Bear Ghylls comes from the small stable of Nicky Martin and his three wins are the only wins for the yard this season. He's tends to take a hold but won his only start last season and all three over hurdles this one. His four wins have come on Soft and they've been his only starts. Keskronisk was over 12l behind Apprciate It at Christmas but won his only other two starts, a Bumper and Maiden Hurdle, but on a line throiugh the runner up in the latter has a bit to find here although the step up in trip might help. Does He Know ran up a hat trick including the Grade 2 Hyde Hurdle over course and distance but then ran out at half way in the Challow. He then disappointed at Exeter last month where he wore a hood for the first time and that is retained here. The word is that Bob Olinger is a bit special and he gets the nod here.
Selection; Bob Olinger
Best Alternative; Bravemansgame
Broadway Novices Chase (3m80y)
Only five runners are prepared to take on Monkfish who is 2/5 Favourite with the next best , The Big Breakaway 15/2. The favourite has been very impressive over fences and seems to improve with every run. The Big Breakaway was second to Shan Blue last time out over Christmas in the Grade 1 Kauto Star while Eklat De Rire has won his two chases on Heavy but did win his point on Yielding to Soft and could have more improvement in him. Sporting John sprung a surprise last time winning the Grade 1 Scilly Isles having been very disappointing on his previous two starts. Dickie Diver had his first start since since finishing an 11l fourth in the 2019 renewal of the Albert Bartlett when finishing 7l runner up in a Newbury Handicap Chase at the end of December and hasn't run since so he's best watched. Fiddleronthehoof has been a bit disappointing but the stable is starting to show a bit of form after been in the doldrums for a long time. Monkfish is hard to oppose.
Best Alternative; The Big Breakaway
Champion Chase (1m7f199y)
Ten go to post for what is always one of the highlights of the meeting but the betting suggests it's a one horse race with Chacun Pour Soi 4/5 fav and 8/1 and better the rest. Having won the Dublin Chase last February, beating Min, ChacunPour Soi had to be withdrawn from this on the morning of the race. He wasn't seen again until December when he romped home in the Hilly Way and then won the Grade 1 at Leopardstown with Put The Kettle On over 8l back in third. He then repeated his win in the Dublin Chase when winning readily by 8l from Fakir D'oudairies. I don't think ground will be an issue as he has won on Yielding which it may be tomorrow. Nuba Negra has had just the one start this season when beating Altior by over 3l in a Grade 2 at Kempton at Christmas. He won twice last season and was runner up twice and it's worth noting that his wins have come on sharp tracks. Last year's Arkle winner Put The Kettle On is a bit of a Cheltenham specialist having won two here last season and again on his seasson debut last November in a four horse Grade 2 although the Favourite Defi Du Seuil pulled up. Politilogue won what was a weak renewal of this last year and was well beaten by First Flow in an Ascot Grade 1 in January. The latter has won his last six starts rising 25lb in the ratings and 14/1 could appeal to the E.W. punters. Sceau Royal reverted to Hurdles at the start of the season winning twice and runner up to Epatante in the Fighting Fifth and then found the Ground against him when over 3l behind Song For Someone in aGrade 2 around here last December. He then fell in a Chase at Kempton over Christmas and had a break until February when he got his ground and beat Champ 2l. Ground is key and if there Good in it he could have an E.W. chance as a Course and Distance winner. Cilaos Emery has won four of his six Chase starts but whether the form is good enough remains to be seen. Rouge Vif needs Good in the going to be at his best. He won a Handicap on Good ground over Course and Distance last October and beat Nube Negra 7l on Good to Soft at Warwick last February before a 19l third in the Arkle here. Notebook and Greaneteen look held on form with rivals. All things been equal Chacun Pour Soi should win but there is plenty of Each Way value withy some others
Selection; Chacun Pour Soi
Best Alternative; Sceau Royal (E.W.)
Champion Bumper (2m87y)
Fifteen go to post and fourteen of them have won twenty one races under rules and it's a race that outsiders have a good record in with only two favourites winning in the last ten renewals. Willie Mullins has won four of those ten renewals but not with a favourite. Nonetheless trends eventually get broken and the Closutton maestro saddles favourite Kilcruit here. He was talked about as a future star by his previous trainer Tony Mullins who tipped him up for a race but he was unable to run there and the trainer admits he overcooked him with a gallop before running him in Clonmel where he got beaten 4l by Captain Kangaroo. He's won his two subsequent starts the first by over 9l and then in the Grade 2 at the Dublin Festival winning by 12l in a canter. All his runs have been on Soft but I'd be hopeful he'd handle better ground as the dam won on Firm. Sir Gerhard has won his point and two Bumpers in impressive fashion but will the change of stables close to the race upset him. If we take the last run literally his four and a half length win over Letsbeclearaboutit is less than the 12l Kilcruit beat that horse with contemptuous ease. Three Stripe Life was impressive winning his only start at Navan in January. Highly regarded by connections he's attracted some support during the week and might have Each Way value. Ramillies won a point in England before joining Team Mullins. He's had two disappointing runs either side of an impressive looking win at Leopardstown. His latest defeat came when he was 27l behind Kilcruit. The trainer suggests a minor change in tactics should see him involved. Elle Est Belle represents the Skeltons. She hasn't been seen since dead heating in a Listed Mares Bumper over course and distance last November and had won her only other start at Aintree. Grangee has had two wins either side of an 8l third to Eileendoverat Market Rasen. Chemical Energy might appreciate the better ground he'll get here having won twice on Good and Yielding to Soft and struggled when 21l behind Kilcruit at Leopardstown on Soft to Heavy. I Like To Move It has won two and was runner up at Newbury with a number of previous winners behind. A difficult race to weigh up connections of Three Stripe Life think he'll run a big race and he looks good Each Way value.
Selection; Three Stripe Life E.W. (8/1 Available)
Best Alternative; Kilcruit
Cheltenham (Going; Soft, Good To Soft in places)
Supreme Novices' Hurdle (2m87y)
Keep an eye on the Going possibly changing again by race time as it may have a bearing on the outcome. Appreciate It is a shade of odds on to get the Festival off to a bang for Willie Mullins and Soft ground will be to his advantage as it brings his stamina into play. His last two of his three wins over Hurdles have come in Grade 1's at Leopardstown and in the last one he beat a resurgent Ballyadam. The later was held when he made a mistake at the last. But this was a better effort from him having 19l behind Appreciate It at Christmas when the Elliott horses were out of sorts. He had won his only other starts over hurdles including the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse. Metier has been very impressive in winning his three starts over Hurdles since been bought off the Flat for 150k gns. His last win came in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle where he sluiced in by 12l. Soaring Glory won the Betfair Handicap Hurdle at Newbury last month off a mark of 133. That was his fifth start over hurdles and on his first he had Bravemansgame half a length back in second place at Chepstow. He wears first time cheek pieces here. Blue Lord was nearest at the finish when a 6l third to Appreciate It at Leopardstown last month having been held up. Prior to that run he had finished just over 6l behind Bob Olinger in the Grade 1 Lawlor's at Naas. On the first of his three starts since arriving from France he beat Julies Stowaway on his first start in fourteen months. Irascible has to find 9l with Appreciate It oh his last two starts while Grumpy Charlie, who has won his last three starts, takes a big step up in company. For Pleasure won over course and distance in a Grade 2 trial back in November but has a bit to find with Soaring Glory on Betfair Hurdle form. It's a tough one to call but soft ground swings it for me towards Appreciate It with Ballyadam as best alternative
Selection; Appreciate It
Best Alternative; Ballyadam E.W. (13/2 freely available)
Arkle Novices Chase (2m)
Just six face the starter with Shishkin odds on to land this. It's hard to find fault with him and he's been impressive in his three winning starts over fences. On his last start he had Eldorado Allen over 8l back in s econd at Doncaster. Allmankind will tear away in front as usual and he put his rivals to the sword at Warwick last time in a Grade 2 winning by 14l. However last year in the Triumph Hurdle and again in October, both here over the Old Course which he'll be on tomorrow, he faded after the last to be beaten into third. Captain Guinness was going well when brought down two out in last year's Supreme won by Shishkin. He wasn't right when pulled up on Chase debut in October but impressed when winning next time at Punchestown. He was no match for Energumene at Naas next time and then fell two out in the Leopardstown Arkle when challenging. He travels strongly in his races and was quite keen last time. Franco De Port looks a better chaser than he was a hurdler. He won his first two starts over the larger obstacles, the second a Grade 1 at Leopardstown over Christmas before finishing a 10l second to Energumene at leopardstown last month. Eldorado Allen has been disappointing since winning his firstb two runs over fences and looks well held by Shishkin and Allmankind. There will be plenty of pace with Allmankind and Captain Guinness but Shishkin is hard to oppose.
Best Alternative; Franco De Port
Champion Hurdle (2m87y)
Ten go to post for this and with three front runners in the field it promises to be an exciting race to watch. Two mares head the betting with the unbeaten Honeysuckle 2/1 a strong favourite and last years winner Epatante second favourite at 9/2. With a strong pace guaranteed it could be set up for Honeysuckle. Who won the 2m4f Grade 1 Mares over this course at last years festival beating Benie Des Dieux and on her seasonal debut won the 2m4f Hattons Grace at Fairyhouse. On her only other start this season she was mightily impressive when winning the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown last month leaving runner up Abracadabras 10l behind. Having won the Fighting fifth at Newcastle in November, Epatante was disappointing when beaten over 6l by Silver Streak in the Christmas hurdle at Kempton and Nicky Henderson is quoted saying he was hoping for better ground here. Goshen fell at the last in the Triumph last season with the race at his mercy. He was beaten favourite twice on the flat over the summer and then ran a shocker here over the New Course in December after which he was found to have a fibrillating heart. He returned to form at Wincanton last month when held up and coming through smoothly to race away to a 22l win although a few fancied ones ran well below their best. It will be interesting to see what tactics are employed here. Abracadabras has run well on his two starts here over this course and was only beaten a head by Shishkin in the Supreme last year having been slightly hampered at the second last. He likes to come late and the only bad race he's run was at Christmas when he scoped badly afterwards. Off the fast pace likely here he will be finishing late and could well run into a place. Sharjah was a 3l runner up in last year's renewal. He'd a couple of spins on the flat over the summer before reappearing at Christmas and winning the Leopardstown Grade 1 by 2l from Aspire Tower before once again disappointing in the Irish Champion Hurdle last month. The latter was runner up in the Triumph last year and has had just two runs since, winning the Grade 2 ar Down Royal in October from Abracadabras and the afore mentioned defeat to Sharjah. The rain looks to have come at the wrong time for Silver Streak. James Du Berlais has his first start for Willie Mullins having arrived from France where he had some decent form and the trainer thinks he has a chance of being in the first four while his other runner Saldier has been a long way off his best recently but has been trained specifically for this. There will be no hiding place in this and hopefully Honeysuckle can add to her record.
Best Alternative; Goshen
The David Nicholson Mares Hurdle (2m3f200y)
Eleven go to post for this Grade 1 and Concertista, who had been ods on in the betting, is drifting a bit ans 11/8 is freely available. She won teh 2m1f Grade 2 here last yearimpressively and in her two subsequent starts has beaten Minella Melody into second place twice, in the Grade 2 Mares at Fairyhouse over an extended 2m3f in November and then the Grade 3 Mares over 2m4f at Leopardstown at Christmas with Black Tears over 12l back in third. Roksana, who benefitted from the fall of Benie Des Dieux in this two years ago, was an 11l fourth behind Honeysuckle here last year and reappeared in October to win the Grade 2 over 3m at Wetherby from Next Destination. She was then a close third, beaten 2l behind Paisley Park in the Long Walk at Ascot last December and beat Magic Of Light over an extended 2m7f at the same track in January. It's strange to see her drop back in trip but the stable are in great form. Dame De Compagnie reverts to Hurdles having had two starts over fences, beating Cornerstone Lad at Ayr first time up and then unseating in the Scilly Isles at Sandown last month. She won the Coral Cup here at last years festival beating Black Tears just over 2l with the latter now 4lb better off. The latter reappears just fifteen days after easily winning a five runner Grade 3 Mares at Punchestown. Great White Shark was receiving 9lb when 3l behind Indefatigable in the Martin Pipe here last year and won a couple of Flat handicaps over the Summer including the Cesarewitch at Newmarket in October. She reappeared at Gowran in January in the Galmoy but raced to keenly and faded to finsih way behind the winner. Indefatigable was given a break after her success here last year and resumed with a run on the flat at Lingfield before two hurdle races at Kempton where she was a beaten favourite in the first and then ran a shocker behind McFabulous after which she was given a wind op and has her first run back since that here. She is the third highest rated in the race and looks overpriced to me. Minella Melody has had the misfortune to come up against Concertista twice and Beacon Edge on her three starts this season. She disappointed in the Dawn Run here last year but in the run before that had beaten Colreevy, who was receiving 4lb, by over 2l. On ratings has a bit to find with some others. My Sister Sarah has her first run after a wind op having finished 24l behind Concertista at Christmas. She won at limerick in October having placed in her previous four starts. She was brought down at the last when 7l behind and staying on in last years Martin Pipe. Floressa steps up in trip but was well behind Concertista here last year. I think there are a few overpriced here and Indefatigable is worth a small Each Way.
Selection; Indefatigable E.W. (25/1 Bet365)
Best Alternative; Roksanna
National Hunt Novices Chase (3m5f201y)
This race is usually for amature jockeys but Covid has put paid to that and the Pros get the leg up this year. It's hard to know what the going will be like come post time for this race but it won't matter to Next Destination who has won on evry type from Good up to Heavy. He joined Paul Nicholls from Willie Mullins this season and returned after a 920 day break to run a big race behind Roksana in a Grade 2 Hurdle at Wetherby. He then went chasing and won his two other starts the last one in Mid January at Warwick where he beat the useful Fiddlerontheroof. He's a Classy horse, jumps well and could have further improvement in him. Galvin has won his last four, all on Good or Yielding Ground. The last one came in October over 3m on this course. While he did win on Soft I think he's better on a sounder surface. Escaria Ten was 15l behind Monkfish on chase debut last November but was a 20l winner next time. He then went to a Grade 3 in Naas where he was 2l back in second but over 6l ahead of the third Pencilfulloflead. Lord Royal has mixed form and fell at Thurles three runs ago. However he improved for going left handed at Navan the last day just beaten by under 1l by Mr. Hendricks over 3m on Heavy. Remastered completed the hat trick when wining the Grade 2 Reynoldstown over 3m last month at Ascot and the way he hit the line suggests he'll stay further. Snow Leopardess has been very consistent in her last five runs having won once and been placed in the other four starts. Her win came over an extended 3m1f on Soft ground at Haydock last November and with the mares allowance could appeal to E.W. Backers. Nestor Park has been runner up in three of his four starts this season but has a fair bit to find on ratings. I think the winner will come from one of the above and Next Destination gets the nod.
Selection; Next Destination
Best Alternative; Remastered E.W.
Navan (Going; Soft To Heavy)
Webster Cup Chase (2m)
Five go to post for this Grade 2 and last year's first and second, Castlegrace Paddy and Ornua, renew rivalry. The former had a break after that until November when he beat A Plus Tard by half a length in the Fortria Chase over this course and distance. His next three starts however have been disappointing however although he had a similar profile before last year's win. Any News has had two hurdle starts and a chase start all at 2m4f to 3m1f since winning over 2m at Naas last February. He has some decent form in Graded company and dropping back in trip might be an advantage. If this was a handicap Daly Tiger would be giving 5lb to Castlegrace Paddy but instead gets 5lb making him 10lb better off. He'd a disappointing Novice season but was found to have a tooth problem. He got this season off to a flying start winning a Punchestown handicap but disappointed next time. However a change of tactics saw him beat a good field in a Grade A handicap at Fairyhouse in January before finishing an 11l second to the impressive Cilaos Emery at Naas last month. Moon Over Germany hasn't been seen since the end of September. His last six starts have been over hurdles. Prior to that he had followed up a win at Ballinrobe in August 2019 with third in a Grade 3 at Tipperary and a 5l runner up to Notebook in the Grade 2 Craddoxtown at Punchestown. Given his lay off he's probably best watched. Ornua has had thirteen starts since his last win which was in the Grade 1 Maghull at Aintree in April 2019. He's finished second or third in eight of those thirteen and he's dropped from a mark of 154 to 143. He was last seen in November last year when a 44l last of four to Castlegrace Paddy. Daly Tiger should be able to make hius weight advantage tell.
Selection; Daly Tiger
Best Alternative; Castlegrace Paddy
Kelso (Going; Good To Soft)
Premier Novices Hurdle (2m2f25y)
Just the seven runners for this Grade 2 and My Drogo is a strong favourite for the Skeltons. He's won the last two of his three starts, the most recent the Grade 2 Kennel Gate Hurdle over 2m at Ascot. He was receiving 5lb from the runner up Llandinabo Lad that day and here he has to carry a Class 1 5lb penalty. Any News is rated 3lb higher than the favourite and receives 5lb from him at the weights. Having won his Bumper and Maiden hurdle impressively, his only two starts on the track, he was beaten 1l by Make Me A Believer over 2m1f at Cheltenham back in December on his latest start with Lucky One a further 12l back in third. That race came to quick for the latter according to trainer Paul Nicholls having won his maiden just ten days previously. Lucky One then had a break until earlier this month when winning a Novice Hurdle at Wincanton by 20l with the runner up winning at Plumpton last Monday. Bareback Jack completed the hat trick over hurdles (his only starts) when beating a number of previous winners at Musselburgh earlier this month. He had also won his only point over 2m4f at Punchestown. Alright Sunshine won three Bumpers in the 18/19 seaon and then embarked on a flat campaign winning four of eleven starts. He's had just the one start over hurdles when beaten 7l into second place by a Skelton Horse Rokstar Ronnie. Thisis a big step up. Castle Rushen is well regarded by his trainer and has won three of his five starts and been runner up in thye other two, He was probably a bit unlucky the last day when a poor jump at thye second last after which he was headed and then was carried left after thye last by the winner who won by a nose. He could well improve further bu will need to at the ratings. Do Your Job had a wind op after disappointing in a Grade 1 at Haydock early January. Prior to that he had gone down by just over 4l to Llandinabo Lad off level weights. I think he's overpriced at 16/1 if you ignore that last run and on a line through Llandinabo Lad he should not be far away from My Drogo. I think Lucky One is worth a shout here.
Selection; Lucky One
Best Alternative; Do Your Job
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