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Gavin Cromwell has had a tough time of it this season but turned it around with two winners at the Cheltenham Festival and with his team in much better form his horse Oscar Thyne could be well handicapped in this opening handicap hurdle.
He won a Beginners chase at Clonmel last time out and he has to be competitive off his mark of 116. He was good enough to run in a decent novice in Killarney and finished a good fifth in October and on this ground, he has to be feared.
A few of these have met before and the one that I keep coming back to is Feelgood Island for Liz Doyle and Sean O’Keefe. He’s a no-nonsense type who like to be ridden handy and has some very good form to his name and can handle nice ground as well.
Decimation and Blue Sari are top rated in here at 139. Decimation got pipped at Fairyhouse by Ashdale Bob on similar ground to what we have now. Blue Sari was starting to show what we always thought he was capable of in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham before falling at the last. You must remember he was giving Envoi Allen a race in the bumper at the Festival a couple of seasons ago but has only won once over hurdles – and that suits the conditions of this race as all of the runners can only have won one hurdle race.
We saw enough at Cheltenham to give him another chance. Keep an eye on the market for former French-trained Fastorslow as he had some promising form before his injury.
Vanillier looked really good when catching everyone on the hop at Cheltenham in the Albert Bartlett and there did not seem to be much fluke about that win. The handicapper has him as joint-top rated. Stattler faded close to home in the same contest and should be better suited to this flatter track but the one that I like is Galopin Des Champs.
He travelled like a very good horse at the Festival when winning the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle and could have been thrown in at the weights after one bad run in the winter.
The other one of note is Telmesomethinggirl. I was super impressed with her at the Festival in the mares’ novice hurdle and stepping up in trip to three miles, she could be a major player. It was a tough call between the pais but Willie Mullins’ runner just shaded it for me.
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This is a fascinating contest with Clan Des Obeaux being supplemented by Paul Nicholls after his comfortable success at Aintree. There is not a lot between the top horses on official ratings. Kemboy won this race two years ago and he loves this track but with Clan Des Obeaux likely to be ridden positively like he was at Aintree, it could upset Kemboy a little as he won’t get to dictate the pace.
That makes me think it will just play into Al Boum Photo‘s hands. Paul Townend can use his turn of foot to sweep past his rivals on the run to the last.
This race is restricted to amateur riders so Patrick Mullins had the choice between Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner Sir Gerhard and the runner-up Kilcruit. Patrick’s chasing the amateur riders’ title and it makes a lot of sense that’s he’s gone for Sir Gerhard this time.
Black Op can be inconsistent but he is very well handicapped on is best form when you think of the races he has contested this season. He just has to jump more fluently but off a rating of 143, I just can’t believe he won’t be at least placed in this handicap. I recommend him each way.
This daughter of Yates now runs in the Sean Mulryan colours in the finale. Trainer Martin Brassil has a long association with the owner and would want him to have a good horse. Choice Of Words gets the vote in the concluding mares’ bumper.
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