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Traditionally, this juvenile hurdle is a race for those who have skipped the Cheltenham festival so it’s somewhat of a surprise that Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle hero Jeff Kidder takes his place in the line-up. But having caused that huge surprise last month, connections are clearly trying to strike while the iron is hot.
Having been raised just 5lbs for his Cheltenham success, the handicapper has given Noel Meade’s charge a chance and while he’s worse off with both Busselton (10lbs) and Zoffanien (5lbs), he should be able to uphold the form with that duo judged on his latest display. However, he may have to go all out to beat TEAHUPOO which looks the class act of the race.
It looked at the time that he was a fortunate winner when winning on his Irish debut over course and distance but he followed up in impressive fashion, again at Fairyhouse, in February and that day, he looked like a horse going places. He has to carry his penalty for winning that Grade 3 contest but he’s been faultless so far and it’s hard to see him not completing the hat-trick here.
The Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle was one of the four championship races which Ireland won at the Cheltenham festival but what was more significant about that Thursday treat is that Irish-trained horses filled four of the first six places in that race. And one of those was BEACON EDGE, which for a long way looked like he might reel in Flooring Porter and nab the big prize.
Having overcome a bout of colic in December, the seven-year-old did well to return to action so soon in the season and having finishing third at Naas in January, he managed to overhaul Fury Road in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan to book his ticket to the Cotswolds, where he ran a career best. The obvious concern to his chances is that he’s turning out only 18 days later, after a hard race, but the same can be said about is main challenger The Bosses Oscar and Beacon Edge did manage to win two races within 16 days in October of last year. If Cheltenham hasn’t left it’s mark on him, he should take all the beating.
Having won the 2019 Drinmore Novice Chase in a canter, over course and distance, it’s really surprising that FAKIR D’OUDARIES hasn’t won a race since then. His runner-up effort behind Put The Kettle On in the Arkle Trophy is reading better all the time, despite the fact that he didn’t get the run of the race, and while he disappointed over three miles at Christmas, his subsequent second-placed efforts behind Chacun Pour Soi and Allaho is really rock solid form.
On ratings, his main threat appears to come from Battleoverdoyen but his last two runs leave a lot to be desired. That would possibly make Easy Game as the obvious challenger to Fakir D’oudairies and while his beating of The Storyteller in a similar contest at Gowran Park last October gives him a big shout, he hasn’t managed to repeat that effort in his three runs since. This race looks Fakir D’oudaries to lose and a change of tactics might even make his job easier than it already looks.
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If you’ve backed FOXY JACKS in any of his last four runs, it’s safe to say that you never got a run for your money. Dismal displays a Leopardstown, Naas and Navan haven’t shown Mouse Morris’ seven-year-old in the best light and on these aforementioned left-handed tracks, one thing contributed for all of those bad efforts – His tendency to jump, and hang in a certain extent, to his right. On Monday, for the first time since last November, he gets the opportunity to go right-handed.
His best two performances this season have come at Cork, where he bolted up in a beginners chase and ran really well behind Home By The Lee in a good Grade 3 novice chase in November. Even his maiden hurdle victory, where he beat Eklat De Rire, came at Punchestown so that’s further proof of his need to run on right-handed tracks. Due to those recent blips, against the likes of Monkfish, he now runs off a mark of 132 and its safe to say that if he brings his A-game here, he’s extremely well-handicapped.
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