Stratum got beaten here last year after a long lay-off but comes into tonight’s test on the back of a run at Punchestown. Ideally, he’d like a longer trip, but I’m sure Paul Townend will make plenty of use of him. At his price, you don’t need me to tell you he should take all the beating.
Paul Townend would have had the choice between Castle North and Elite Charboniere and chose the former. The latter is taking a huge drop in class, but his runs for us so far, have been uninspiring. Castle North was a little unlucky on his last start at Ballinrobe, where he got caught in a pocket off a slow pace, and didn’t get going until the race was over. He could build on that, but neither of them are superstars in what looks a very open contest.
Roxboro Road won very well at Fairyhouse for my dad, Ted, when Mark Walsh rode him and has won around Ballinrobe before. Mark’s out injured so Luke Dempsey takes over. He’d have a good chance, even if he did get a fair penalty of 14lb for that Fairyhouse win. I know if I had the choice I’d pick him over Eoline Jolie who Paul Townend rides. She’s been very disappointing and hasn’t shown on the racecourse yet, what she shows at home.
This is a very good beginners’ chase and there’s likely to be plenty of pace on. It’s a drop down in grade for Wicklow Brave whose last run was in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle when he was third behind Buvuer D’Air.
Wicklow Brave will appreciate going that bit easier here, has schooled well over fences and should be hard to beat.
Ask Susan is in good order but this is her third run in quick succession. Danny Mullins has gotten down to 9st 11lbs to ride her and while there’s races to be won with her, I’m not sure it will be today. Paul Townend rides Pylonthepressure who fell at Tramore the last time when travelling well and his form figures indicate he’s not the most reliable.
Of the others, Mall Dini is still a novice in his third season chasing. It’s a long-time since he won a race and looks a perennial loser to me. Maybe today could be his day, but at the prices, he wouldn’t be for me.