Race 1: JLT Novices Chase – 13:30
This looks quite a poor renewal this year and as a result, I am willing to give Finian’s Oscar one last chance. Although he hasn’t convinced with his jumping, he has been schooling plenty recently, while the Tizzard stable are in much better form now, compared to earlier in the season which could prove crucial. What is key though, is that Finian’s Oscar has had his wind tinkered with and will wear headgear here for the first time. We all know he has the ability to figure and I’m hoping that he goes and confirms the promise he showed last year by winning the JLT.
Race 2: Pertemps Handicap Hurdle – 14:10
Louis Vac Pouch is very much unexposed, with him only having 8 runs over hurdles but his form stepped up for going beyond 2 miles. His sixth in a red hot renewal of the Silver Trophy at Chepstow was followed by a comprehensive win in a Pertemps qualifier at Aintree. That race has worked out tremendously well, which suggests the 13lb rise he received from the handicapper could actually be fair. He looks sure to be involved here.
Race 3: Ryanair Chase – 14:50
A month ago, this race was shaping up to be a cracker but we’ve lost Coney Island, Top Notch, Fox Norton, and Waiting Patiently will bypass it too. So this race looks at the mercy of last year’s winner Un De Sceaux.
Race 4: Stayers Hurdle – 15:30
Yanworth makes plenty of appeal reverting to hurdling from chasing. He won a Grade 1 over 3 miles at Aintree last season beating Supasundae by showing a superior level of stamina and based on that form, I think he will take all the beating and finally get the festival win he deserves.
Race 5: Brown Advisory Plate – 16:10
Kings Socks had very strong juvenile hurdle form when trained in France, finishing second behind Footpad on his last run there. He switched to David Pipe after that run and had a year off the track but he made a nice reappearance at Kempton, running like he’d benefit for the outing and even got dropped 3lbs by the handicapper. David Pipe has a tremendous record in the race, winning with similar French imports like Salut Flo and Ballynagour. He appears to have a great chance of improving that record here.
Race 6: Mares Novice Hurdle – 16:50
Laurina was wildly impressive at Fairyhouse and with the second, Allextrix, winning at Leopardstown subsequently, it looks very likely that Willie Mullins will make it 3 wins from 3 runnings of this race.
Race 7: Kim Muir Handicap – 17:30
The Young Master has dropped to a workable mark of 135 now and considering he placed in the Ultima two years ago off a mark of 149 and was sixth in the same race last year off 150, he looks sure to play a part here providing a decent jockey is booked to ride. He has had a wind operation since his last run and hopefully that can see him bounce back to somewhere near his best. If he does, he should go close.