Another cracking Paddy Power Chase day at Leopardstown on Friday with a great mix of Grade One events and of course handicaps to get even the keenest form student scratching their heads. There are no less than 54 entries for the two big betting races at the back end of the card with 28 set to line-up in the Paddy Power Chase at 2.55.
I have set my stall out with A Plus Tard and backed him in so many doubles and trebles for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival that I have lost track of the potential winnings come the second week of March.
That race is the seasonal main aim for Henry De Bromhead’s runner this season, but I expect a bold bid from the progressive five-year-old in the Grade One Paddy’s Rewards Club “Loyalty’s Dead, Live For Rewards” Chase at 1.10.
However, this extended two mile trip is probably too sharp for him and the superstar in the making, CHACUN POUR SOI, is a rather unoriginal, but common sense selection.
The way he dismissed Defi Du Seuil in the Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival had to be seen to be believed and a clear cut victory here would see him close the gap on the great Altior at the top of the Champion Chase market.
Here is my run down of the six other races on the Paddy Power card:-
A 90-rated handicapper on the flat, Millswyn (Joseph O’Brien), is an interesting newcomer in this juvenile hurdle and while Takarengo was a full 15lbs behind him on the level, he looks a likely stronger stayer now put over hurdles representing the shrewdest of Irish trainers.
However, I am going to take a chance on Joseph’s other runner, LAKE McKENZIE having only his second race under rules, following a ‘quiet’ run in on maiden over 13 furlongs at Navan. He has reportedly been schooling nicely at home since then and could prove the each-way value against the market leaders, in a race worth watching rather than having a major play in.
Melon made a more than satisfactory start to his chase campaign when given the enviable task of giving 8lbs to Fakir D’oudairies at Navan. Time may tell us that he had an impossible task that day, but this looks equally as tough.
I suspect that this is just the starting point for last year’s Ballymore hero City Island and this trip could prove sharp enough and preference is for CAPPUCIMIX, a fair second of 14 to Cash Back on his chasing debut when looking badly in need of the run. He looks the value call after impressing in the jumping stakes at Navan.
ABACADABRAS has the best form in this small, but select field and I have him 6lbs clear on the ratings for this Grade One affair. To get to within a length and a half of the very smart Envoi Allen was a superb run especially when you take into account he went through the top of a couple of his obstacles. He travels so well in his races that the bare two miles will always be is call and the son of Davidoff should prove too strong for the four-year-old Blue Sari.
With several front runners and pressers in this competitive two mile hurdle, we should get a really solid end-to-end gallop here and that should suit the likes of the disappointing Golden Spear (more realistic assignment than of late) and the unexposed, Thatsy.
However, I fancy that the double-figure priced DAYBREAK BOY could well outrun those odds off his current mark of 122.
The selection was far from disgraced in graded company last year after running away with his maiden hurdle at Navan. Although he has been running well over three miles, the return to a good test at the minimum trip could be exactly what he wants.
In my preview, before the final decs came out, I liked the look of Caspian Caviar third Robin Des Foret on this step up to three miles. In a race where they nearly always go a rapid pace, his sound fencing will be a huge asset and the still available 16/1 looks a fair offer in a race where Paddy is paying the first 7 home.
But I am keen to add to my betting profile with further rain anticipated at the Dublin track and the back-up wager has to be the potentially well handicapped ROARING BULL off a rating of just 135. A 14-length winner of a Naas handicap over two and a half miles last year, he was then badly hampered at halfway when down the field in the Close Brothers Novice Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
The youngster then showed that form to be all wrong with an eye catching third of six behind Burrows Saint in a Grade 3 at Limerick before failing to stay in the Irish National behind the same horse, although far from disgraced in sixth spot. Some 3lbs lower than at Fairyhouse, he has reportedly needed his two runs to date this term and should be cherry-ripe now off his revised mark and 33/1 with the first 7 places up for grabs with PP is more than enough to tempt me in.
This is the type of race that the hugely disappointing Gun Digger could run well in now that the assessor has given him a chance, but a more dependable player at the top end of the market is probably Winter Escape at the equally attractive each-way odds of 25/1 and he is made a third string to our betting bow.
*Prices and entries correct at time of publishing