Not the best day for us, with only Snugsbrough Hall coming through and Vision Des Flos fluffing his lines at the last. We’re still up on the week though, and in a good position with two full days of racing left to go.
3:40 – KFM Hunters Chase for the Bishopscourt Cup (4yo+): No thank you. No disprect, but no thanks, no thanks.
Advice: Really!? Get more pints in you.
4.20 – EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase (Grade A) (5yo+): A very smart renewal of this contest indeed. Hardline disappointed in the Arkle but his other efforts, including when taking a Grade 1 over Christmas and finishing third in the Flogas, are all very creditable efforts and the 7lbs claim of Robert James gives him a fighting chance here. Powers Gold Cup second Real Steel and dual Naas winner Poker Party are both big threats but De Name Escapes Me is the second choice against the field. He was a cosy winner of the Foxrock Handicap Chase back in December before failing to get home in the Paddy Power Chase or Leinster National. Coming back to a well-run race at this trip ought to suit and he can make a bold bid today. Jetz has a big chance if his jumping doesn’t let him down, and Louis’ Vac Pouch is respected having taken second in the Future Champions Novice’ Hurdle. Pravalaguna is taking her first step into handicap Scoir Mear will be tough to beat if he shows his best form, but he had been in and out before winning at Navan, and Beyond The Law deserves respect too.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Hardline (13/2 Paddy Power, Bet365), 1 pt each/way De Name Escapes Me
Hanlon Concrete Irish EBF Glencarraig Lady Francis Flood Mares Handicap Chase (Grade B)(4yo+): The form of Barra’s third to Camelia De Cotte and Pravalaguna at Fairyhouse last week is arguably the best on show and considering that was her first run since July of last year, she might well improve from it (if avoiding the dreaded bounce factor). Robert Power takes off 7lbs and the ground should be fine, so she’s the clear top pick. Moyhenna was a super impressive winner of a Grade 2 at Limerick last time and deserves respect, although perhaps she wants softer ground than this.
Ask Susan looks to have been prepared for this following a nice debut for Willie Mullins over hurdles at Fairyhouse, although the market has found her in no uncertain terms. Slowmotion would have a decent chance at her best, although she was 16 lengths adrift of Barra at levels at Fairyhouse on her return to chasing.
At a bigger price, perhaps Ellie Mac might be the one. This track ought to suit much more than Wexford did, and she’d been highly tried since taking two novice chases early in the season. That Wexford return was also her first of the spring and it’s quite possible this has been the target for a horse who is worthy of a mark of 125 with Rachael Blackmore onboard.
Advice: 2 pts each/way Barra (13/2 general)
5.30 – BETDAQ Punchestown Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+): A fascinating contest with each of the leading lights having significant qualities and also significant faults. Buveur D’Air was outstayed by Supasundae at Aintree when the rain deluged Liverpool but around Punchestown Nicky Henderson’s charge ought to have the advantage here. However, the market has that well accounted for and then one has to take Apple’s Jade, edged out of the Liverpool Hurdle, into account here. Supasundae won this last year after a tough campaign when he’d gone to both Cheltenham and Aintree, and following the same route this year, could take some passing. He’s 6/1, enough of a price to go each/way and gamble on him making the top two. It’s hard to know how Melon would have finished when he fell at Aintree but he was blown apart in the Champion and could feel that race more than some others, and Wicklow Brave, the 2017 winner, can’t be totally discounted but might not have the legs at the very top level.
Summerville Boy hasn’t proven himself in open company and Petit Mouchoir may be a pacemaker.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Supasundae (6/1 general)
6.05 – Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+): City Island was an incredibly impressive winner of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and if repeating that form, he will take all the beating. He’ll need to be on his mettle to beat the very impressive Mersey Novices’ Hurdle in the shape of Reserve Tank, although a line through Brewin’upastorm (fourth at Cheltenham, 2nd at Aintree) gives him excellent form prospects.
Battleoverdoyen is a major threat. He didn’t run his race at all when he was pulled up in the Ballymore but a price of 7/1 for him feels like an overreaction. An impressive winner of the Lawlor’s Novice Hurdle at Naas, there’s some improving for him to do on a strict formline through runner up Sams Profile, but he will only get better and showed tactical speed that will be very useful around here in doing so.
Sams Profile might find that he wants a stronger test of stamina here, and Tornado Flyer, who was pulled up in the Lawlors, is an interesting contender. He took the Champion Bumper here last year, won his maiden, and then was a big disappointment but he’s unexposed at third trip and he will have his backers. Easy Game and Eglantine Du Seuil are both good horses, but both feel exposed whilst Come to Me has disappointed twice following a wide margin win at Cork. Gallant John Joe and All For Joy don’t quite look upto this grade.
Advice: 4 pts win City Island (evs general)
6.35 – Star Best For Racing Coverage Champion Hunters Chase (4yo+): Very difficult to pick between a fair few of these. Stand Up A Fight might have found the Foxhunters a bit much given his lack of experience and should go better here but there was no way we saw the read Caid Du Berlais that day and last year’s wide margin winner could be the pick of the leading contenders, having also had a light season. Ucello Conti has been to all three spring festivals and could feel the effects of that, whilst Burning Ambition could find the distance here a problem.
Advice: 1 pt win Caid Du Berlais (5/1 general)
7.10 – SalesSense International Novice Hurdle: Breaken was a very impressive winner on his Irish debut but the form of that race wins 17 runs, 0 wins (0 horses), 3 placed, and 14 unplaced sicne so there’s no appetite to take 11/8 about him. He will also need to improve his jumping. Gardens Of Babylon has run very well in top juvenile races but the Triumph third has had a longer season than his rivals and might prefer a stiffer test. Cash Back, second to Mister Blue Sky in a Fairyhouse Grade 2, could go very well here and is the pick of the front three. Watch the market for Dunvegan, who has not been right in his two Grade 1 starts but who is a horse of considerable ability when right. La Tektor and Notebook might want a longer trip.
Advice: 1 pt win Cash Back (9/2 general)
7.45 – GVA Donal O’Buachalla Property Advisors INH Flat Race: No bet in this, but well worth watching for the future. Longhouse Poet, a comfortable winner at Boulta in a 3 mile point to point, runs here for the Ballymore connections of City Island, and to add to that, Martin Brassil has booked Derek O’Connor. Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci have the £235,000 purchase Monkfish who bounced back from being pulled up on debut to win at Stowling a year ago. He’s current market leader, with Gold Des Bois also of interest – he was a Kirkistown winner in February who now runs for the Harringtons and has the assistance of Finny Maguire. Axiomatic never settled when making his debut but if racing with more restraint, could go much better here.
Advice: Watch and analyze.
Kentucky Oaks (11.12 Churchill Downs)
The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile form – if the market is correct – will play a big part in this, and perhaps Restless Rider is best placed to go close today. She has to overcome stall 14 but her return in the Ashland, when beaten a neck by Out For A Spin, was creditbale given that it was her first run as a 3 year old and we know she handles (to a reasonable extent) a sloppy Churchill track, even if she was beaten in the Golden Rod Stakes at the end of her juvenile career. She stayed on well behind Jaywalk when second in the Breeders’ Cup and appears to have trained on whilst Jaywalk has disappointed in two starts since, including the Ashland. Out For A Spin is drawn down along a lot of the speed, but she handles all sorts of tracks and her trainer Dallas Stewart won this in 2006 to boot. 20/1 feels big about her chances.
Bellafina was a joint favourite at the Breeders’ Cup when she was fourth to Jaywalk, and has since won the Santa Anez, Las Virgines, and Santa Anita Oaks, all at short odds. She has wonderful Beyer Numbers but she is terribly short at 7/4 and begging to be taken on.
Champagne Anyone relished blinkers to take the Gulfstream Park Oaks and has to be respected on that basis. She can race close to the pace and stay there. Godolphin’s Flor de la Mar has had just the three starts, and evidently holds plenty of ability based on her second in the Saint Anita Oaks, although it is a worry that on her second start, the only one she’s had on the slop, she bombed out in a Santa Anita conditions stakes. This could come too soon for her.
Serengeti Empress bombed in the Breeders’ Cup and then in the Fairgrounds Oaks, but she bled on the latter occasion and her comprehensive defeat of Liora, beat our selection at the backend of last year, gives her a strong chance. She bled last time, and one might worry about just how stronger her constitution is for a race like this.
Jeltrin won the Davond Dale Stakes in the last stride so one would think this setup will benefit her although it’s her first start going two turns and she’s upped in class too.
Chocolate Kisses won the Honeybee Stakes and was then a disappointment in the Ashland, a result that doesn’t really reflect well upon Motion Emotion, who was a length behind her giving 4lbs in the Honeybee. Positive Spirit looked like a machine when bolting up in the Demoiselle Stakes but she doesn’t appear to have trained on properly.
Street Band got the better of Liora in the Fair Ground Oaks at a price and if she repeats that performance then she’ll outrun her price, although it’s doubtful that she’ll get another perfect trip once again, or that her main rival will bomb in such spectacular fashion.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Restless Rider (8/1 general), 1 pt Out For A Spin (20/1 general)