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There are two quality cards for Irish racing fans on Sunday. There is also no rain forecast so the ground at both Fairyhouse and Cork will be drying out all the time. The Underwriting Exchange Gold Cup (17:00) is the day’s highlight and Asterion Forlonge should be the short-priced favourite.
He ran well at the Cheltenham Festival, and will be happier on a right handed track. He’s not a horse to trust though and I wanted to take him on, but wasn’t mad about any of the opposition. So, I’m going to have watching brief on that race, here are a few selections who will carry my cash.
The novice handicap hurdle looks highly competitive and there should be plenty of well handicapped horses on show, but VISCOUNT GORT gets the nod. This horse has only had three career starts. One of them was a complete blowout and that’s a slight concern, but the other two runs suggest this horse may have been let in lightly here.
He got off the mark last time out in Thurles and the second that day has shown ability. Viscount Gort was a bit careful at his hurdles early on. Encouragingly, he produced accurate leaps at the last couple of hurdles to seal a comfortable victory.
The ground was heavy that day, but this horse is a really sweet mover though. I’m more than hopeful that he will improve for the better ground and he’s a well bred sort with plenty of upside who should relish the step up in trip. That will do for me.
This graded novice hurdle another competitive affair and Thedevilscoachman will likely head the betting. He’s hard to knock, but I will take a chance on GRAND BORNAND. This fella is still something of a work in progress, as he ran far too freely on Irish debut in Cork.
That, coupled with some sloppy jumping, saw him fade tamely up the straight. He then ran second behind a smart sort in Fairyhouse, but he got off the mark last time out in Leopardstown and that was a taking performance. He was again keen early, but Paul Townend did a good job of anchoring him and he produced a very slick round of jumping to win well.
That wasn’t the strongest race but did suggest the horse is learning and there looks to be plenty of pace options in Sunday’s race. That will help Danny Mullins to get his mount switched off and this strong travelling sort should enjoy a speed favouring track like Fairyhouse. He can go well at rewarding odds.
This race is yet another competitive graded novice hurdle, where GRAND PARADIS looks sure to go close. This is a horse on a steep upward curve and he dotted up in a Grade 3 last time. That wasn’t as strong a race as this, but the second is a reliable sort who gives the form real credibility.
Grand Paradis travelled supremely well through that race, even if he was a bit novicey at his hurdles. That’s a worry, but a lack of concentration was a factor. He looks to possess a fairly solid technique, and Jack Kennedy will know more about him on Sunday. The quicker ground is something of a concern, but it’s the only real cloud on the horizon though and certainly wouldn’t put me off backing the horse.
The last bet comes in Cork, where Botani lines up in this handicap hurdle. This mare hasn’t really delivered on early promise, but there is still time though. She comes here on the back of a career best effort at the Dublin Racing Festival, she finished fifth there despite being hampered by a faller late on.
The first and third that day went on to record impressive victories at the Cheltenham Festival. Botani can probably count herself fortunate that she gets to race off the same mark on Sunday. She’s a strong travelling sort, and big field handicaps will probably show her to best effect. Hopefully, she will find enough off the bridle to prevail here.
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