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We head to Fairyhouse on Easter Monday and that’s words to raise the spirits of the Irish racing fan. The Irish Grand National is always a thrilling spectacle, but I’m hopeful that this renewal will be fairly predictable.
There is also a meeting in Cork and that looks a very tricky card though. That means I will confine my search for winners to the Fairyhouse.
The card opens with a big field novice handicap hurdle, where I’m sweet on POWERFUL TED. The only slight worry is that Sean Flanagan doesn’t ride and I’m assuming he had the choice of the Noel Meade trained pair. Denis O’Regan is a classy operator though and If he can get Powerful Ted to hurdle adequately, this horse looks thrown in.
His last run on the Flat came in a highly competitive handicap in Leopardstown and he finished a close third off a mark off 88. That strongly suggests a hurdles mark of 105 is lenient, but the seven-month absence is of little concern.
This horse has a fine record fresh though and it’s possible that connections didn’t want to run him on deep winter ground. He jumped pretty well in three maiden hurdle starts. This trip is probably a minimum, but he’s just too well handicapped to ignore.
LYNWOOD GOLD was a horse I was sweet on for the Pertemps in Cheltenham, but he didn’t travel in the end. Hopefully, that decision will be vindicated in this handicap hurdle as this horse is something of an open book over hurdles.
He has plenty of experience on the Flat though and his last run in that sphere came when running well in the Cesarawitch. That run came off a mark of 91, so in that context, a hurdles mark of 130 looks workable.
His comeback last month looked like a tune up, as he looked to blow up a bit turning for home before plugging on for sixth. That run should have him cherry ripe for this assignment, as he was ground versatile on the flat. Ideally, I’d prefer if this race were over 3m, but we have enough in our favour to justify a wager.
On to the big race, where Paddy are offering a couple of extra places. It seems rude to decline such largesse, but I will be playing LATEST EXHIBITION win only. This horse reminds me a lot of Our Duke and he bolted up in the 2017 renewal of this race off a mark of 153. Latest Exhibition will race off the same mark here, and I envisage a similar result.
He brings very strong novice chase form to the party and there was no shame in a couple of second places behind the mighty Monkfish. The likes of Conflated, Heaven Help Us, Andy Dufresne and Asterion Forlonge finished behind Latest Exhibition in those races and that rates really strong form particularly in the context of giving weight away to handicappers here. He has looked a strong stayer in his novice hurdle and chase campaigns. This is a savage test, but in my opinion one he will improve for and he can prove a class apart.
The card closes with a staying handicap chase and Goose Man is a well handicapped horse. If I’m right about that, DORKING CORK should be ahead of his mark too and this horse ran Goose Man close in Down Royal last month.
It’s possible to argue that race fell apart, but I’m sticking to my belief that the winner will go on to better things. That was Dorking Cork’s first run over fences since February 2020 and perhaps that explains some sloppy jumps.
He jumped well when winning a couple of 2m chases in the UK last winter. That speed, combined with the abundant stamina he showed in Down Royal, should prove a potent combination here. He’s a relatively unexposed seven-year-old and the ground should be fine. His jumping can improve, so there’s plenty to like.
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