First, hot off the press and disappointingly, Elixir De Nutz is lame and has been ruled out of the opening Supreme Hurdle on Tuesday. I might have a small bet on Vision D’honneur but only to have an interest.
On to Wednesday and the main news is that, although Santini is declared, Nicky Henderson sounded in a TV interview that he is far from convinced that he will run. I wouldn’t have been selecting him anyway and all the more so now.
The weather forecast is dreadful and if the winds are as strong as predicted, it’s not out of the question that there may be a repeat of the 2008 abandonment which succumbed to high winds which made the course unsafe as a result of the risk of damage to temporary structures and advertising boards. For reference, the wind speed that day was 50mph. According to the Met Office, the wind on Wednesday is forecast to reach up to 49mph at midday and 43mph at 3.00 p.m. Let’s hope it goes ahead.
13:30 Ballymore HurdleEmbed from Getty Images
I don’t have a particularly strong view about this race. According to the betting it’s a head to head between Champ (5/2) and Battleoverdoyen (100/30). I’m going with the latter. Gordon Elliott has a very high opinion of him. He’s unbeaten and won a Grade 1 well last time out in January. He’s yet to prove form on this likely ground but I suspect it might be a benefit (Elliott pulled him out of his intended race at the Dublin Racing Festival on account of unsuitable good ground).
14:10 RSA ChaseEmbed from Getty Images
As mentioned above, I can’t have Santini (100/30), given the interrupted preparation and questions about his wellbeing. Topofthegame (100/30) has been beaten by two top class horses this season in the shape of Defi Du Seuil and La Bague Au Roi, but last won a Grade 3 hurdle as long ago as February 2018.
My idea of the winner is Delta Work (15/8), a fine horse, unbeaten in three outings this season (including two Grade 1s and a victory over highly rated Le Richebourg). He won the Pertemps on soft ground at the Festival last year and should have no problem staying in what is likely to be an even tougher race than usual.
14:50 Coral CupEmbed from Getty Images
Just a quick each way selection in this one and it’s Bleu Berry (20/1), winner of this on soft ground last year and not disgraced when fourth in a Grade 2 and third in the Grade 1 Punchestown Champion Hurdle. His only outing this year was when very highly tried in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran (seventh behind Presenting Percy). Looks well primed for this one.
15:30 Champion ChaseEmbed from Getty Images
This is an opportunity to take time out from betting and just enjoy the peerless Altior (4/9)
16:10 Cross CountryEmbed from Getty Images
Tiger Roll (6/5) was very impressive when winning the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle in February. He was not expected to do anything in that race and went off at 25/1. He appears to be in rude health and this Grand National winner should repeat last year’s victory. Of the others, course and distance winner Urgent De Gregaine for French trainer Emmanuel Clayeux is a very fair price at 14/1.
16:50 Boodles Fred Winter
Just a quick selection and it’s favourite (sorry) Band Of Outlaws (13/2) for Joseph O’Brien. This one was well talked up in the previews.
17:30 Champion BumperEmbed from Getty Images
In my February preview I identified Envoi Allen (100/30) as a serious horse. Gordon Elliott said that he’s one of the two or three best in his yard and that’s good enough for me.