Leopardstown’s handicap hurdle at 15:10 looks decidedly open, but the one who makes most appeal is Gavin Cromwell’s Ming Dynasty.
Named, like my favourite takeaway in Manchester, after the ancient Chinese ruling empire, Ming Dynasty landed some nice bets on his return from seven weeks off (had undergone a breathing operation) to win a handicap at Naas by three and three quarter lengths. A subsequent 9 lb rise for that win looks manageable, especially as he was a useful middle-distance performer on the Flat and is entitled to progress further over hurdles.
The following race at 15:45 is weaker than the pound sterling, and it will be disappointing if Carter McKay isn’t able to open his account over fences. He caught the eye more than Tiger Woods in a strip club on his latest outing, let down by his jumping at times but not given a hard time of it at all. Admittedly, he appeals as the type to really take off once entering handicaps, but connections continue to send him down this route and this race shouldn’t take much winning.
The obvious danger looks to be Aint Dunne Yet (okay Tiger, just five more minutes) who may well have won on his first start back for 16 months at Fairyhouse last month but for a soft unseat at the last fence.
The Carrickmines Handicap Chase at 16:15 is a competitive renewal in which Gordon Elliott holds a stronger hand than Geoff Capes at his peak. Jack Kennedy presumably had the pick of three runners – all owned by Gigginstown Stud – but it may pay to side with Monatomic, ridden by Denis O’Regan. The six-year-old ran a career best when second in a novice handicap chase at Naas recently under this rider, beaten only by a progressive sort and pulling clear of the remainder. He is pitched in against more experienced chasers now, but could still be on the up.
The best bet on the card, though, could come in the 16:50 in the shape of The Church Gate, who is in better form than Nicky Henderson after the drinks waiter arrives. The Matthew Smith-trained gelding arrives chasing a hat-trick and the handicapper could have taken a risk raising him only 4 lb for his latest win, in which he scored by five and a half lengths with plenty in hand. Although the form doesn’t look anything special, The Church Gate looks a well-handicapped horse and he can go in again.