Just some quick selections this time.
12:10 Triumph Hurdle Trial 2m1f
Just a watching brief for the unopposable Apple’s Shakira***** at a prohibitive 1/5. Selected last time at Cheltenham and my goodness she delivered. She’s currently 7/2 favourite for the real thing (10/1) bar and will probably be shorter after tomorrow.
12:45 Novices’ Chase 2m4f
Another short price and Movewiththetimes*** (evens) should take this without too much difficulty.
13:20 Handicap Chase 2m and a bit
I’m not sure why they’re giving Sire de Grugy such a hard campaign at this stage in his career and without any of the exuberance he had in his pomp. Bun Doran is the well supported favourite but I prefer Gino’s Trail** at a decent 7/2.
13:55 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (Grade 3) 2m4 1/2f
Clan des Obeaux**** won very well last time out and ran creditably in a match with Whisper the time before. I don’t see top weight as a problem for a strapping horse like this and he’s my bet of the day at a decent 7/2. I might also have a small place interest in Deauville Dancer at 40/1 chasing a four-timer, albeit that this is a serious step up in class.
14:30 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 3m
This is a substandard renewal and I don’t have a particular view. Maybe just current joint favourite Equus Secretus (15/8) but not a bet for me.
15:05 International Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 1f
The New One has won this three times and could easily do so again. I can also see My Tent Or Yours making a winning return. It would be great to see Melon take a step up and enter the Festival reckoning. One to watch unless, at the last minute, I decide to have a little go with The New One** at 9/4 who is likely to prefer this ground.
15:40 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle 2m4f
Lady Karinga** has winning form on soft and heavy and I’d love to see this daughter of Lady Rebecca take another step forward at an appealing 11/2.
12:30 Novices’ Hurdle 2m 1/2f
I’m very interested in the J P McManus/Nicky Henderson combination in the shape of Countister*** who could be very good indeed. She has an excellent French profile including two Grade 2 AQPS bumpers. Clondaw Castle provides serious opposition but I’m still happy with the current 10/11 (could be a lot shorter on the day). I expect to see this one in some of the big races later in the season and she definitely fits the “could be anything” mould.
14:10 Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) 3m
I fancy Paul Nicholls’ Braquer d’Or** (9/4) under Bryony Frost to turn over favourite Keeper Hill.
14:45 Summit Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 1/2f
This is another in which I prefer the second favourite, Act of Valour*** (11/8) to beat the favourite (We Have A Dream). Paul Nicholls has identified this one as a potential star and this is the perfect opportunity for him to frank his credentials after winning on heavy at Newcastle earlier this month.
The ground at Fairyhouse is heavy. I’ll be looking out for Bravissimo (7/2) in the 12:05 beginners’ chase, Bonbon Au Miel (Mullins) v Monbeg Notorious (Elliott) in another beginners’ chase at 12:35, Stormy Ireland (Mullins) in the juvenile maiden hurdle at 13:10 and Giant Spirit (Mullins) in another maiden hurdle (transferred from Sandra Hughes).
As ever at this time of year, lots of interesting racing. Good luck!
Cheltenham 12:10: Apple’s Shakira
Cheltenham 13:55: Clan des Obeaux
Doncaster: 12:30 Countister
Doncaster 14:45 Act of Valour