Brendan Duke: This 7/1 shot could put a spring in our step on Saturday

We're at the fag end of the jumps game and Brendan Duke has his binoculars trained on the Flat...

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As predicted, the only students in Leopardstown last Saturday, were of the form book variety. It was bliss. Interesting card. Lady Kaya seems to have mellowed over the winter. She was more relaxed than last year. This enabled her to saunter along in front, quicken well, and win handsomely. She will demand considerable respect come the Guineas.

The tenderly handled Iridessa also ran nicely. Over a sub-optimal trip, on ground softer than ideal, and carrying a penalty, she shaped well. Her pedigree gives mixed messages in regards to stamina. Her run style screams out for a trip of ground. She should head to the Epsom Oaks with a live chance, probably off the back of a solid showing in the Guineas.

Broome bolted in. He’s wintered very well, adding strength to his long frame. Again, his pedigree is a mix of speed and stamina. In a sense, very few horses are really bred to win the Derby. If you have the guaranteed stamina on both sides, a career jumping over things is probable. Broome’s dam, was a talented, precocious two year old. When mated with stamina influences, her progeny have tended to stay well. Again, on run style Broome looks a strong stayer. He might just lack the class to win a Derby. A bold showing wouldn’t surprise though. It’s certainly not hard to see him starting favourite for the St Leger next autumn.


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Leopardstown finished 15 minutes before the Grand National. Almost everybody hung around to watch it. I’ve a confession to make. I’m not really gone on the race.

Too many horses, too many fences, and too many furlongs for my taste.

However, Tiger Roll is a horse to fall in love with. Like Persian Punch, and a few others in my time watching racing, he would very nearly cause a man to anthropomorphise. I know it’s silly, thoroughbred horses aren’t renowned for their intelligence. To watch him seemingly plot his way around the course, is remarkable though. He did look a bit recalcitrant on the way to the start. Then again, the thinking man’s horse probably should be a bit dubious about the merits of such an undertaking. A flair for the dramatic only adds to the affection.

One nibble the turf, just in case the millions watching dare take their eyes off him. That was his only sop to drama mind. He cruised into the lead, and with no Pleasant Company around to tease this time, won in a virtual canter. Health permitting, I expect him to return next year.

His owner has suggested he won’t. Anybody who listens to Micheal O’Leary, will sense a penchant for mischief. His replies to disgruntled passengers, on radio phone-ins, are a comic treat. Logic dictates that he must love racing. It would be hard to write the cheques otherwise.

I suspect trying to emulate Red Rum would be a source of great joy. Pretending otherwise, at least for the next 11 months, will give him plenty of alternative pleasure.


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On to this week. Paddy are giving extra places on the Scottish National. I tried really hard to work the race out. Tried and failed. Just don’t like anything. I’m not seeing many potential bets on Saturday at all. The Spring Cup (3.15 pm) at Newbury is probably of most interest. I’m quite sweet on one here. Ibraz, a lightly-raced four-year-old, appeals as a horse going places. He broke his maiden at the third time of asking, before following up in a Sandown handicap.

The form of both races worked out extremely well. He disappointed on his final start of last season. That was in July. The fact that he hasn’t been seen out since, suggests a problem was found. The ground at Newbury is currently soft. With no rain forecast, good/soft looks the most likely terrain for Saturday. While Ibraz’s best form has come on better ground, his sire and dam were most effective with cut.


Roger Varian has his string in fine form. Granted, most of his winners have gone off short prices, but they’re winning. For a big field handicap, there doesn’t look to be much early pace. Masham Star is one of the most likely front runners. Ibraz is the other. While he has never actually front run, he often sits handy. This should prove advantageous. He will likely want further in time, This is another reason why connections will probably let him bowl along in front.

The straight mile at Newbury, with an ease underfoot, is a stiff test. I don’t think it’s fanciful to see Ibraz making up into a stakes horse this term. Off a mark of 93, the 7/1 with Paddy on Thursday looks a very fair price to see him start the season with a win.

The defection of Too Darn Hot from the Greenham came as a blow. Hopefully he will come right in time for the Guineas. Hard to be despondent during Masters week though. Hopefully the other Tiger will do the business, and make fairytales look fanciful.

*Prices correct at time of publishing

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What do you think?