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A blank Sunday in Ireland sees me shift my focus to Naas on Monday. What should be merely a workaday industry card is transformed by a high quality beginners chase, and quite possibly the best mares maiden hurdle ever run.
I realise that could be construed as damning with faint praise and the mares programme is the subject of much derision, often from me to be fair. The 12:55 race is quite the exception and it could quite easily feature the winner of the 2021 Mares Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival. It’s possibly more a card to watch rather than bet on and I’ll chance a few quid shekels on these three all the same.
It’s that aforementioned doozy of a mares maiden hurdle that we begin and the betting will be revealing here. Given the level achieved on the Flat by Royal Illusion, I suppose she has to be chalked up as favourite. This trip is sharp enough though, and she’s a bit long in the tooth to be making her hurdling bow.
Delvino is undoubtedly promising. Castra Vetera has a fan club and that’s understandable, but this daughter of Jeremy is reluctantly passed over. ROSEYS HOLLOW rates the selection at what should be an each-way price. This mare has looked highly promising on her two career starts and she was a comfortable winner of a bumper before finishing third in a red hot maiden hurdle last March.
Her jumping was a touch careful early on, but I was encouraged by how she warmed to the job down the back straight and Mark Walsh wasn’t hard on her in the closing stages. She has run to a really good level there and won’t need to find a whole pile to go close in this contest. We know she goes well fresh, but this drop in distance isn’t ideal. I’ll take a chance that she can make her hurdling experience count though.
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This handicap hurdle is a competitive affair and Oneknightmoreihope was the subject of an interesting stewards report last time out. His jockey called him a bridle horse, while his trainer then said the horse just runs on. It will be interesting to see how he goes.
I’ll chance SHE’S COMMANCHE though, this mare landed a bit of a gamble on penultimate start. She failed to defy an 8lbs rise last time out and she’s up another couple of pounds here. Maybe the handicapper has her, but there are reasons to be hopeful that isn’t the case.
The drop back to two miles seemed to catch her out in Thurles, so she should relish the extra yardage here. She went down to an unexposed sort in that race too and the form took a couple of knocks in Punchestown last week – it’s early days though.
Her Fairyhouse win has been boosted and she’s still unexposed herself. Hopefully with experience, her jumping will improve as she’s inclined to be clumsy. On just her eighth career start, I’m optimistic her technique will improve here. If so, she must go very close.
My final bet is WEIHNACHTS in this handicap chase and I backed this horse last time out in Clonmel. My concern going into that race was his jumping, but in the event he put in an accomplished fencing display.
I was convinced my bank balance was going to be boosted for 90% of that race. Unfortunately, he fell in a hole up the home straight and maybe he’s a horse who will never put it all together.
But, the form of his runner-up finish in Galway three runs ago suggests he’s well handicapped. He remains relatively unexposed and we’re going to be getting a decent price. I will take a chance win only.
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