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It’s the last Sunday before Christmas and Off to Thurles we go for a competitive card. The highlight is the mares hurdle at 14:00. I’m a big fan of Sayce Gold, but she probably won’t win here though. This significant drop in trip, and trying to concede 10 pounds to the highly promising Gauloise, should prove too much and it is to the credit of Mick Winters that he lets her run.
This business of good horses only competing under optimum conditions isn’t good for the game. Sayce Gold could easily run a career best in defeat here. If she can win, it opens up plenty of options. The ground is currently soft, and will probably stay that way. Here are a few selections that can hopefully bolster the coffers.
This handicap chase is a tight affair and my first port of call in these races is the top of the handicap. Cases can be made for Jack Dillinger, Dakota Moirette and Benefit Run, but I don’t really trust any of them.
Thus, I find myself in the unusual position of picking one at the bottom of the weights. ESPION DU CHENET was well supported earlier this week in Naas. He delivered in good style too. That win came on the back of an encouraging handicap bow over this course and distance. I loved the way this horse attacked his fences in Naas On the couple of occasions he wasn’t foot perfect, he didn’t seem to lose much ground. He was very strong at the line. The return to this trip looks a positive. An 8lbs rise in this better grade will test him. I fancy this unexposed sort can pass that test.
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Back to more familiar territory for this handicap hurdle, where HUMANISTE heads the weights and rates the selection. He comes here off the back of a dismal run on the flat and that’s not ideal, but I’m inclined to give him a pass. He was a good winner on his last start over hurdles in Tipperary, the form of that race is working out well since.
He has generally been in decent form since his comeback in August, which was a respectable effort in Killarney. That was followed by a defeat in Punchestown where his stamina was probably stretched. The subsequent efforts of the placed horses in Tipperary suggest an 8lbs rise is manageable. He enjoys a class edge here and remains relatively unexposed. Hopefully the market overreacts to his recent blip.
The final bet comes in the novice hurdle and BORN PATRIOT was a shock winner on debut in Punchestown recently. He mustn’t show a whole pile at home, but what he showed on the track that day was most encouraging. His jumping was a little clumsy early on, however that improved markedly on the second circuit.
He showed a tenacious attitude after coming off the bridle turning for home. He missed the last hurdle, but found enough to get up and nail the short-priced favourite close to the line. That probably wasn’t all that strong a race, but he beat the right horse. I’d guess he will have to find about 10lbs to come out on top here.
That doesn’t seem unrealistic given his profile, but the extra couple of furlongs look likely to suit. He appeared a scopey sort on the television. I’d be hopeful he has a bright future and he can remain unbeaten.
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