A Sunday to savour as there are more clashes than a man can shake a stick at. for the lads. Benie Des Dieux is the only notable absentee. This is a trend sports fans will get behind. I’m expecting plenty of people to take advantage of the weather and make for the county Meath venue.
The opening 2m Grade 3 juvenile hurdle at 12.30 looks a match. Stablemates A Wave Of The Sea (AWOTS) and Cerberus were both wildly impressive last time out. They stepped up significantly on their previous run when fighting out a close finish at Punchestown.
That day AWOTS scrambled home by a neck. Cerberus is 4lbs better off on Sunday. Given the subsequent progression it would be unwise to take that form literally. Cerberus still rates the selection. A limited sort on the Flat, albeit lightly-raced.
He has clearly taken off since losing his balls and finding hurdles.
He looked the real deal when giving a 19 length beating to smart Flat horse Red Gerry. Granted, the runner up jumped a little stickily. I’m fairly sure that’s strong form all the same. I expect Cerberus to pop out in front, jump slickly, and take plenty of passing.
Envoi Allen puts his unbeaten record on the line in the 2m Grade 1 Royal Bond Novices Hurdle at 13.00. It’s hard to know how good he is. Everything about him suggests he’s a horse who has more left in the tank. He’ll be very hard to beat.
However, over what is probably a sub-optimal trip, in a race with an appealing each- way make up, I will take him on. In a proper heat cases can be made for Abacadabras and Midnight Run. Soviet Pimpernel is the pick to hit the places at least with Paddy going 10/1.
This horse took his form to a new level when second in Cheltenham last time out. He was arguably unlucky not to beat a couple of very smart sorts. The third has won a good race since. The Pimpernel is a very strong traveller, and a complete natural over hurdles. I expect him to look the most likely winner between the last two flights.
Whether he will be able to get past Envoi Allen is another matter.
Even if he doesn’t, the place part of the wager should offer comfort.
The hits just keep on coming with the 2m 4f Drinmore Chase at 13.30. Samcro is favourite. It’s marginal granted but I think Fakir Doudairies should be. This horse has an awful lot in his favour. He gets an 8lb allowance, looked a very accomplished jumper in Navan, and shapes like the extra half furlong will be right up his street.
He has also shown that he relishes competition. The jury is out on whether Samcro feels the same. I’ll also have a saver on Ronald Pump. This horse has turned inside out in the last year. He looked a seriously quick, accurate jumper when making a successful chasing debut at this course. He needs to step up again but that looks eminently feasible.
The 2m 4f Grade One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at 14.40 is the day’s feature. It’s possible to make some sort of case for all the runners. Apple’s Jade, bidding to win the race for a fourth time, gets the nod. Obviously a repeat of last season’s romp will see her win. The snag is recent form figure of 6352. The good news is we’re getting a guaranteed price of 5/2 at the moment, even if she shortens or lengthens.
I think that price is enough compensation.
It’s possible that time has caught up with her. She’s only seven but has plenty of miles on the clock. Possible but not certain. Returning to the scene of some of her finest moments can hopefully see her restored.
The two mile handicap hurdle 15.10 is a competitive race. As it should be for a 100K race. Chosen Mate might represent a touch of value. He was a smart novice last term. He hasn’t enjoyed much luck since being sent handicapping. He suffered severe interference in the Galway Hurdle, and was also shuffled back at a vital stage last time out in Listowel.
A mark of 142 could yet prove generous. He will need a bit of luck tomorrow. With the expectation of a truly-run race, and a fair trip, I could see him finishing late and fast.
*Prices correct at time of publishing