Race 1: Ballymore Novices Hurdle – 13:30
I happened to be at Leopardstown when Samcro won the Deloitte and you could feel the sense from the crowd there that we were witnessing something special. He really did look like a superstar that day, winning without even really coming off the bridle and while the time guys will tell you he isn’t that far clear of the field here, I will trust my eyes and say Samcro will make it seven out of seven under rules.
Race 2: RSA Chase – 14:10
Willie Mullins has a tremendous record in the RSA with 4 runners and 3 runners up so his runners have to be respected. Al Boum Photo looks to be his best chance and although he hasn’t the sexy profile of Monalee or Presenting Percy, we shouldn’t underestimate him, as his run in the Flogas when 2nd to Monalee, suggested he would actually improve for the step up in trip that he gets here. He hasn’t as much to find with the market principles as the market suggests, therefore he rates a decent each way alternative.
Race 3: Coral Cup – 14:50
Ben Pauling’s yard were struggling with some issues around the end of 2017 & the beginning of this year but his horses have turned a corner and he may have one or two well handicapped horses as a result. Le Breuil may well be one, as a mark of 139 looks to be more than fair based on his defeat of Benatar as a novice. He will do for me at an each way price.
Race 4: Queen Mother Champion Chase – 15:30
If Altior runs to the level we know he can, then he will be almost impossible to beat. The only slight concern is that he ran a big race last time off the back of an absence and there is the chance he could suffer from the dreaded “bounce” factor. That is my only worry but he should confirm his position as the best 2 mile chaser around.
Race 5: Cross Country Chase – 16:10
Cause Of Causes will be a tough nut to crack but Tiger Roll comes into this race with almost an identical profile as Cause of Causes did last year. TR is a dual festival winner, winning a Triumph Hurdle and National Hunt Chase and has the class angle to go close here. He travelled well to a point in his first attempt at this unique discipline but has been back for extensive schooling in February and I expect him to go very close. He rates one of the bets of the week for me.
Race 6: Fred Winter – 16:50
This has not been a punter-friendly race with seven horses in fourteen renewals being returned at 20/1 or bigger. Oxford Blu is a massive price here but after winning on his hurdles debut, he subsequently disappointed twice. Then, on his first venture into handicap company, he gave a very well handicapped rival a real fright, his run style that day suggesting he would relish the strong pace and stiff finish he will face here and he looks to have decent each-way claims.
Race 7: Champion Bumper – 17:30
Gigginstown rarely send a runner to this race, despite having more bumper runners in Ireland than any other owner. It is then very significant that they send Felix Desjy to the race this year and he is trained by last year’s winning trainer, Gordon Elliott. He has been relatively impressive in his two bumper wins, so it might be worth taking the hint of Gigginstown running him by having a few quid on him.