There’s plenty of entries from Willie Mullins’ Closutton stable at Gowran Park today and Ruby Walsh swung by to give us the lowdown on all his runners.
Willie Mullins first runner on the card is Gelees Blanche who gets a lot of weight from former point-to-point winner Fangio De Vassy in the Ladies Auction Maiden Hurdle.
Gelees Blanche is consistent, but has had plenty of chances to get her head in front. She’s in good form and will hopefully handle the ground. However, Fangio De Vassy’s ‘point’ win and fifth to Stattler in a maiden hurdle at Christmas could give him the edge.
Brian Hayes rides Bacardys as Patrick is only entitled to 21 rides outside the amateur ranks and is probably trying to keep a few for the Dublin Racing Festival in just over a week’s time. Bacardys wears a tongue tie for the first time and needs to bounce back to form. Burrows Saint also wears a tongue tie and a hood for the first time as he prepares for a crack at the Aintree Grand National.
He pulled way too hard the last time and has to improve on that.
Danny Mullins rides Scarpetta a pervious course winner who jumps well and would have a shout, but Paul Townend has opted for Great White Shark who could take plenty of beating. My slight concern is the really heavy ground. If she handles it, she’ll be very hard to beat.
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Conor McNamara rides Princess Vega in the handicap hurdle but she has an awful lot of weight – 12-0 – to carry. She’s only a small mare, who won a maiden hurdle at Tramore last Spring before finishing eighth on the Flat at Navan to IImig in October. This is a big ask for her.
Pairc Na Ngael could the one to beat after just failing to land a big gamble at Limerick.
Willie saddles five of the 18 runners in the Thyestes Chase with the top-weight Acapella Bourgeois the mount of Paul Townend. He’s 4lb higher than finishing sixth last year, but he did make a few mistakes that day.
Paul thinks he has a really big chance and he’s not getting too many wrong at the moment. Brian Hayes is back on Brahma Bull who unseated David Mullins at the second fence at Tramore last time, in the race that Acapella Bourgeois chased home Al Boum Photo. Brahma Bull’s jumping can go awry at times but could still be unexposed but would have to do a lot of things right today to get his head in front.
Cabaret Queen may be in the grip of the handicapper after her Munster National and Kerry National wins. Not too many horses tend to win three big handicaps. Conor McNamara takes 5lbs off her back, to bring her under the right side of 11st. She’ll be up on the pace and can give a good account of herself.
Class Conti was second in the race last year when Mikey Fogarty rode him. He takes the ride again and Class Conti will be ridden the same again and could be good each-way value as he plugs away at his own speed and will be staying on at the end when some of the others have had enough.
Saturnas was second in the Kerry National a few years back and ran better than his finishing position suggested in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. He is another at a price who could get the each-way money, especially with Paddy paying 6 places.
Of the ones that aren’t trained by Willie Mullins, Spyglass Hill could be worth taking on as his jumping often lets him down. Simon Torrens takes 5lb off Ten Ten’s back. Gordon Elliott has a couple who should be thereabouts, with Coko Beach likely to be the best of them, while if The Big Dog got in as third reserve, he could be interesting.
My dad’s horse, Any Second Now could be the one most likely to win outside of Acapella Bourgeois with Class Conti and Saturnas a little more value each-way, especially with Paddy paying the 6 places.
A beginners chase is up next and Antey looked like he could have won this race last year but fell three out. He’s not the most reliable of jumpers and unseated at this track last time out. He has a big chance if he puts in a clear round of jumping as dropping back to 2m in heavy ground will suit.
Let’s just hope his jumping holds up as he could be one of our best chances today if he does.
Hara Kiri looks a fast horse at home but that can be deceptive with four-your-olds when they get to the track. They sometimes have trouble with stamina and that would be my one concern – especially in today’s ground.
He’s a good horse though and if his stamina matches his speed he’s sure to go close.
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