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The market suggests this Grade 1 novice hurdle will be fought out between Appreciate It and Ballyadam, but I reckon that KESKONRISK is a decent chance to back each-way. Ballyadam didn’t impress when he won the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle last month and he will have to improve plenty of that effort to win here.
Appreciate It was very good in bumpers last season and only found Ferny Hollow too good for him in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. He was an effortless winner on hurdles debut at Cork at this trip and the winner won nicely since to frank the form, but he might be vulnerable at this trip.
Keskonrisk has only had the two career starts, so is at a disadvantage from an experience perspective, but he was an impressive winner of a Fairyhouse bumper on New Year’s day and that form looks really solid, with the second winning a bumper on his next start and the third, Gabynako, winning a maiden hurdle this year.
After that bumper win Keskonrisk went for the sales, where he was purchased by Henrietta Knight (on behalf of Michael Grech) for £370,000 and switched from Timmy Hyde to Joseph O’Brien. On his hurdles debut last month, he did really well to win a race that developed into a sprint, considering that he wasn’t in the best position in comparison to Indigo Breeze when the pace lifted.
The fact that he was able to make up about 3 lengths after the final hurdle suggests he could be top class, as the second had won his point and his bumper, and had yet to be beaten prior to that hurdles run. Keskonrisk is going to improve significantly for chasing a stronger pace and he rates a really exciting prospect.
This is a really interesting handicap hurdle, but it is really difficult to get away from SEA DUCOR here on his handicap debut. On his handicap debut on the Flat in October last year, he bolted up at Navan off a mark of 61 and was sent straight over hurdles to Punchestown the following month and was heavily backed to make a winning hurdles debut.
He ran really well, but on the day bumped into Aspire Tower. However, he had the likes of Wolf Prince, Instant Return, Sean Says and Yafordadoe all behind him and they all won subsequently. Sea Ducor obviously met with a setback, as he didn’t run again last season and only made his comeback at Gowran Park last month, where his weakness in the market suggested that the run was needed.
That didn’t stop him travelling really well and winning nicely and that form has taken a few boosts since, with the third winning a Leopardstown maiden hurdle on St Stephen’s Day and the fourth finishing second in a Listed mares novice hurdle since. He starts off in handicaps now off a mark of 132 and I would be surprised if he isn’t well handicapped off that mark.
Looking back over past winners, JP McManus has won four of the last eight renewals and he has number of interesting runners this year like Minella Times, Lock’s Corner, Speak Easy and last year’s second Fitzhenry. But, none are more interesting than TEN TEN.
A very lightly raced seven-year-old, he won a maiden hurdle on just his second start and won a beginners chase on his third start in that sphere. That was his first start at 2m 4f and while benefited for the fall of Canadier at the second last fence, he was strong on the run in that day at Navan – suggesting he could improve for stepping up in trip further.
He easily accounted for two horses that are now rated 135 & 134, so his mark of 137 would look very workable. He had a nice run over hurdles last month which should leave him spot on here and he makes plenty of appeal now having his first handicap start over fences. Paddy is also giving us a huge six places in the race he sponsors.
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Another competitive handicap where Paddy is paying an extra place and I can’t get away from ERICK LE ROUGE. He has had four starts at Kempton, which have resulted in three wins and a fourth in a Grade 2 novice chase. He won handicap hurdles off marks of 129 and 134, and won a handicap chase here in January off a mark of 134.
He runs here off a mark of 137 and, while he needs to prove that he definitely gets 3 miles, the price compensates for that uncertainty. If the return to this track for a handicap sees him bounce back to anywhere near his best, he can run well here at a rewarding price.
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