Sunday is St Patrick’s Day, which is supposed to be lucky, but the opening race at Ffos Las, the Well Done at Cheltenham Silver Streak Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (13:55), is a reminder of all losing bets in Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle, as well as a painful flashback to the complete lack of adulation that I received when finishing third of seven in the U14s cross country race.
I was reprimanded by the PE ‘teacher’ afterwards, who said: “Imagine where you could have finished if you hadn’t been talking the whole way around.” Silver Streak is a gelding so he presumably wouldn’t have been bothered as much with the opposite sex as I was, and his own racing career should be all the better for it.
With Flanagans Field having a worse track record than Joe Colliver, it would be fitting if the Evan Williams-trained Annie Bonny was to win Sunday’s race which is named after her stablemate. She improved beyond all recognition when dropped in trip on bad ground at Sedgefield last time and looks to have ideal conditions as she bids to follow up under a penalty.
Road To Riches must have got lost on his way to Cheltenham – and by some margin too – or got his C’s mixed up, as the former Gold Cup and Ryanair third heads to Carlisle on Sunday. He has very little to beat but will be short enough for a horse that has lost the winning thread, so of more interest at the Cumbria venue is Dorking Cock.
None of his three rivals in the 15:20 are duffers, especially Informateur who shaped better than the bare result last time, but Dorking Cock was (eventually) well on top when winning over course and distance last time and he will be much better suited by this softer ground. Unlike poor old Auntie ‘Doughnut’ Doris, who we lost last month, he can defy a hefty rise in the weights.
Over at Limerick in the 15:10, Captain CJ will hopefully take charge having shaped very nicely behind Cap York at Navan last time and looks open to plenty of improvement, with the forecast soft ground no issue having won on testing going between the flags.
Of the two graded races on the card, the mares’ Grade 2 at 16:15 looks too tough to call between Missy Tata, Redhotfillypeppers and Moyhenna, so the better bet may come in the earlier (14:35) in the Grade 3 mares’ novices hurdle.
Western Victory tops Timeform ratings but the worry is that she might get embroiled in a pace battle up-front, therefore setting the race up for the likes of Ifyoucatchmenow and Moskovite. Preference is for the last-named, a progressive mare who had her winning run ended at Clonmel last time against the boys but faces nothing of Allaho and Minella Indo’s quality here. She looks rock-solid.