Energumene drops down in distance from 2m 4f after winning well at Gowran Park and the fact that Blackbow and Captain Guinness like to get on with it up front, should make it an end-to-end gallop.
The winner of this should cause some ripples in the Arkle Chase betting.
Captain Guinness bombed out on his seasonal reappearance but got over that with an impressive win at Punchestown last time. Blackbow was good in Navan, but didn’t get very far at Leopardstown in the Grade One Novice Chase.
I couldn’t recommend one here with any real confidence but do think that, given the size of the field, either of the two Mullins’ runners are probably his best chance of a winner on the card. It’s a fascinating contest and I can see why Paul Townend has gone for Energumene, but it’s no penalty kick.
There’s eight declared in the feature race, the Grade One Lawlor’s of Naas novice hurdle, where Willie Mullins saddles Blue Lord. He’s a good horse, but has to improve on what he did at Punchestown. I was impressed with Bob Olinger at Navan, who was second before that to Ferny Hollow at Gowran Park.
Bob Olinger was long odds on that day at Navan and was entitled to win, but the manner in which he did it impressed me. Ashdale Bob has gotten a couple of extra days recovery since his Grade 2 win at Navan and comes into this contest on a three-timer.
Of the others, Crosshill, Wide Receiver and Gabynako all have to improve to be considered likely winners in a race that should be won by one of the big three at the head of the market.
Bob Olinger is definitely the one to beat though.
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Captain Kangaroo has disappointed on both his starts since beating Kilcruit in a bumper at Clonmel. Kilcruit has managed to win since but Captain Kangaroo faces a decent sort now in On Eagles Wings who can give him a race of it.
Belle Metal is a very small filly and Jodie Townend takes 7lbs off her back and that will give her a better chance, as she’ll only carry 10 stone 9lbs. I rode her last week in her work and she’s a tough filly who keeps going, but may be susceptible to a speedier type.
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