We’ve heard it all before, juvenile hurdlers in their second season are the hardest horses to place against their elders. But forgive me for saying this, I don’t think Joseph O’Brien has done the best placing job with IVANOVICH GORBATOV (20/1) since his Triumph Hurdle rumble.
Following his scintillating Cheltenham success, IG has run five times and been beaten a total of 102 lengths. At first glance that reads a sad state of affairs, but look a bit closer and you realise that the son of Montjeu has yet to encounter his optimum conditions this term.
Give him two miles and goodish ground and there is little doubt in my mind that he can mix it with the very best and the Ryanair Hurdle (2.30 Leopardstown) could see him leave those very ordinary performances behind.
Let’s have a closer look at the race. Nichols Canyon is a much better horse at two and a half miles or more, Petit Mouchoir endured a crashing fall last time out in a sub standard Fighting Fifth, Footpad needs soft ground to show his best form and has plenty to find on Triumph Hurdle running while Jer’s Girl just lacks that turn of foot to put a race to bed at the highest level. My my, horse racing can be so simple at times!
Now I’m not suggesting Ivanovich is a ‘good thing’, but I would venture to suggest that he will outrun his Paddy Power odds of 20/1 on Thursday, so let’s play the each-way game.
By the far the most interesting race from a betting perspective is the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at 1.55.
Anibale Flyer let down the Drinmore form at Kempton and in any case I thought it wasn’t the best renewal of that Fairyhouse contest in recent years.
Despite his promising second at Navan, I still reckon Briar Hill is a thinker, while I fancy Disko to reverse Florida Pearl form with A Toi Phil over this extra half mile.
Martello Tower has taken to well to fences, but I am eyeing the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham with him and this test could be too sharp.
However, I think this could be between Alpha Des Obeaux and JETSTREAM JACK (20/1).
The former has been yelling out for a step up to three miles over fences and Barry Geraghty looks sure to make the most use of his guaranteed stamina and this steam engine of a horse could be worth a saver.
However, while the winter weather remains behind the racing curtain and decent ground prevails I fancy Jetstream Jack to hugely outrun his likely double figure odds.
His run in the Florida Pearl didn’t see him to best effect off a moderate pace. He was badly outpaced turning for home and belted the second last to boot. I think we will see a vastly different animal over this galloping three miles.
Now during the holiday period there are lots of little birdies whispering things in my ear, but a big golden eagle has been bursting my eardrums about THOMOND in the opening handicap chase at 12.20. You have been told.
Finally, she may be available at cramped odds, but the step up to two and a half miles looks sure to improve the very likeable LET’S DANCE and she will prove hard to budge in the 1.20 against her own sex.
Paul Jacobs’ Four at Leopardstown on Thursday
1.20: Let’s Dance
1.55: Jetstream Jack (20/1)
2.30: Ivanovich Gorbatov (20/1)