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A couple of decent cards for us to sink out teeth into on Sunday and the highlight is undoubtedly the appearance of Minella Indo in the 14:20. This race won’t tell us much, but he’s different gear to the opposition. Hopefully, Minella will continue to relax in his races as he raced very kindly throughout his comeback romp in Wexford.
That was a very encouraging sign for a horse whose freewheeling tendencies have cost him in the past. He would just about look the most likely winner of the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup to my eye. The maiden hurdles in Cork may contain some future stars too. Appreciate It makes his seasonal bow, while Willie Mullins also unveils a couple of exciting French recruits.
The theme of this piece will be forgiveness and perhaps it’s the approaching season of goodwill to all men. Perhaps, it’s all this talk of vaccines. Whatever the reason, I’m feeling quite optimistic and this positive spirit may explain my readiness to chance a couple of horses who have wronged me of late. Expect gruelling conditions at both venues though.
FAROUK D’ALENE looks a good thing in the Monksfield Novice Hurdle. I don’t normally back horses at less than 2/1. He won’t be that price but with some promising horses to beat, we should get odds against and that will do me.
This horse is unbeaten in four starts. A point to point, two bumpers, and his most recent win in a Down Royal maiden hurdle – he really looked to relish jumping that day. The way he pricked his ears and measured almost every obstacle promised big things.
We already know from his Naas bumper win that he won’t shirk a battle. 2-and-a-half miles around Navan should present enough of a stamina test. I expect him to jump (and gallop) his rivals into submission.
ELITE TROOPER GREY looks a solid each-way play in this handicap hurdle. This horse has really come alive for the fitting of blinkers. His win on penultimate start in Cork looks solid form, and his subsequent third over this course and distance can be marked up as he was bumped jumping the third last that day.
That bump set in motion a chain of events which saw the horse being messed around all the way up the home straight. It’s a stretch, though not totally fanciful, to say it cost him the race. Sunday’s contest represents a slight drop in grade, although I’d ideally prefer a longer trip.
He’s also inclined to clout the odd hurdle, but those are minor quibbles though. The handicapper has been kind in leaving Elite to race off the same mark as the last day. That largesse should be taken advantage of.
Over to Cork and SLIPPERY SERPENT looks the best bet on that card, where he runs in the handicap hurdle. His recent comeback in Galway was very eye-catching. He was a not knocked about, running on fifth over an inadequate trip. While he has gone well fresh in the past, his sp of 33/1 that day may suggest he wasn’t fully fit.
Granted, the form of that race could be working out better, but Slippery Serpent has some good back form mind you. In November 2018, he was a gallant third in a high-quality handicap in Naas. He will race off a 4lbslower mark, in a significantly lower grade, on Sunday. He seems a ground versatile type and I expect Edward O’Grady to have him fully primed to take advantage of this opportunity.
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Back to Co Meath, regular readers will know that Walk Me Home has cost me a few quid this season. She ran into a very well handicapped horse on her penultimate start. She then ran into the final flight over this course and distance last time out. It could be my pocket talking, but I felt she was coming with a winning run that day.
She has only gone up 1lb in the handicap, although I know backing unlucky losers isn’t the greatest punting strategy. This is also a slightly better race and she’s definitely well handicapped though. Give this normally solid jumper one more chance.
KONITHO is another horse who has cost me money recently and he ran too badly to be true in Galway last time out. He was examined post-race, but found to be normal. I, on the other hand, was quite distressed.
He runs in the handicap chase at the Mallow and this race is full of holes. Off You Go surely has a day in him, it probably won’t be on Sunday though. Capuccimix has potential but is probably best on a left-handed track.
None of the others make great appeal. This trip is a minimum for Konitho, and he needs to bounce back. On the plus side, his previous form reads well, and he has scope to improve. We’re going to get a juicy price and I won’t be able to resist.
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