There was only half a length between Cut the Mustard and Sapphire Lady at Fairyhouse when they were sixth and seventh behind Wonder Laish. I then rode Cut the Mustard to be second here over Christmas and the step up to 2m 2f should really suit her.
It’s only a hunch as Sapphire Lady is in good form but Cut the Mustard – who has a hood on now – should give a very good account of herself.
There’s six really good juveniles in this race and it’s far from a foregone conclusion that two of them, Sir Erec and Tiger Tap Tap will fight out the finish again, like they did at Christmas.
Surin and Gardens of Babylon finished 1-2 at Fairyhouse and pulled a long way clear of the rest while Coueur Sublime and Chief Justice are also closely matched on their Fairyhouse form in December, where Chief Justice came out on top.
Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir Doudairies showcased the Irish juvenile form last weekend at Cheltenham and this race should back that up.
I’m hoping Tiger Tap has improved since Christmas – but I’m also hoping Sir Erec hasn’t – as we’ve got to find a half-length from somewhere to beat him.
I’d a choice to make between Aramon, who I rode to win a Grade One here over Christmas, and maiden hurdle winner Klassical Dream.
I’ve gone for Klassical Dream who had Sunday’s rival Vision D’honneur back in fourth that day and he went on to frank the form by bolting up at Punchestown.
Aramon was very impressive at Christmas but it’s possible the race fell apart a little bit, and make him look visually more impressive than the form suggests. Klassical Dream has improved since Christmas and that’s why I’ve picked him.
If one of these was to stamp their authority on this race, they’d be vying for favouritism for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle next month.
Pleasure Dome is dropping down in company from graded class to a handicap and she’s won over the 3m trip at Sligo before.
Total Recall won this contest last year when he was absolutely chucked in at the weights. She’s nothing like that in hand, but she should be competitive and run a big race.
This is a cracking race with four really good novice chasers in Delta Work, La Bague Au Roi, Winter Escape and Hardline who beat Getabird at Christmas.
La Bague Au Roi looked very good at Kempton on Boxing Day, and her performance should be a good pointer to the chances of Topofthegame and Santini in the RSA Chase.
Delta Work has beaten a lot of good horses including La Richebourg at Fairyhouse, so if that wins on Saturday it can only enhance Delta Work’s claims. He probably outstayed La Richebourg that day, but this field is full of stronger stayers. This will be a different test for Delta Work, but one he can pass.
I’d a choice to make in the Irish Gold Cup and I’ve gone for Bellshill who was fourth in the Savills Chase to Kemboy at Christmas.
Belshill has improved a lot from that run and his form at the back of last year was impressive. He was unlucky in an Irish National when jinking at the last before finishing runner-up and won the Punchestown Gold Cup.
Al Boum Photo was good at Tramore but Bellshill’s form is probably a little deeper and he stays well. It’s a deep race though with Gold Cup third Anibale Fly, former Lexus Chase winner Road to Respect, last year’s winner Edwulf, and Monalee, among others, in the line-up.
Whoever wins will have earned a shot at the Cheltenham Gold Cup – I’m hoping that it will be Bellshill.
I hope I’m still not looking for a winner on day two when I come to ride Livelovelaugh. She’s stepping down in trip and has an each-way shout. Cadmium steps up in trip and has an each-way chance too, but neither look to be particularly well handicapped.
They’ll be competitive but there’s always the fear that something else is well handicapped.
Rebel Og and Botani are our two against the field in the bumper with Patrick Mullins riding Rebel Og who is the form choice. She was very good at Downpatrick, but disappointed subsequently.
We think she’s back in the kind of form she was in before Downpatrick, so that’s something to build on.
Botani goes nicely at home but it could be a tall order to win a race of this calibre on her racecourse debut.