Well! Now that we have the declarations I need to refine my initial views (particularly concerning Samcro and the race choice is significant) but, above all, it’s still held up as a hell of a day’s racing. I’ll have a look at Sunday when the decs are out tomorrow but, for now, here are my thoughts about Saturday. By the way, this is a complete endorsement of the decision that Cheltenham decs are going to be 48 hrs so we can take a measured view of the races. So, here we go:
1.10 Lacy & Partners Novices’ Hurdle 2m 6f (Grade 1)
Without Samcro this is a big Grade 1 opportunity. Last season I was a big fan of Carter McKay but I’m now far more skeptical after his third to Getabird and Mengli Khan in the Moscow Flyer Hurdle (Grade 2) on 13 January. It wasn’t so much the ones that beat him than his run which was modest. Dortmund Park** (2/1) looks like good value and could be a lot better than the decent current form suggests. The only serious opponent is Fabulous Saga. Now this one could be a very good WP horse but he notably failed to deliver over 3m at Cork in November. He’s the main threat (Saint des Saints by Fabalina).
1.45 Dublin Steeplechase 2m 1f (Grade 2)
This race has stood up so, as previously advised, I’m with Yorkhill*** (currently evens). Simply Ned is still good value at 7/1 and exceptional as an each way option.
2.20 Frank Ward Irish Arkle Novices’ Chase 2m 1f (Grade 1)
I’m delighted that Footpad***** (8/13) has stood his ground and, quite rightly, Petit Mouchoir (another recovering from injury) is drifting. I’m looking forward to getting a photo with my Cheltenham Festival favourite.
2.55 Coral Sandyford Handicap Chase 2m 1f (Grade B)
Now then, oh my goodness, here’s the first big challenge of the day. 20 runners as matters stand and 8/1 the field with seven currently shortening! OK, decision time. I don’t like any of the favourites up to 20/1 apart from… Tully East* (9/1). This one was 6th in the BetVictor at Cheltenham in November and has properly been highly tried. He could fly in or bomb out but I’m happy to give him another chance.
3.30 Irish Champion Hurdle 2m (Grade 1)
So Faugheen is declared! What do you think? Oh my goodness, this could be the best odds against ever (currently 6/4) or the worst ever. I have to declare, I didn’t think that he would make it. I’m sticking with my view expressed a couple of days ago that he won’t be the machine and I’m looking at the rest of the field for value. I’m not a big fan of Supasundae and I’m disregarding Defi du Seuil (note that this one remains entered in a number of other races notwithstanding the declaration). I’m sticking with Mick Jazz** at an excellent 12/1, including e/w for the current eight.
4.05 Coral Hurdle 2m (Grade B)
What a race! 29 have stood their ground and the forecast favourite is the 29th on 9st 10lb in the shape of Off You Go* (6/1), a JP horse trained by Charles Byrnes with Mark Enwright delivering (lack of) the weight. I will also be having a little wager on Bleu Berry** (16/1) for win and place.
4.40 Goffs Future Stars Bumper 2m (Grade 2)
Well, I had a try a couple of days ago and now it’s a bit easier. There are no odds on the Racing Post website yet but Patrick is riding Blackbow**** (forecast 7/2) and that will do for me.