Brendan Duke: Some Sunday sizzlers for Kelso and Punchestown

El Dukey fancies a sip of Guinness in the Punchestown feature.

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Envoi Allen continued on his merry way last Sunday. It was a most enjoyable day at the races. This horse is building up a group of disciples worthy of his numerous talents. Things are a little more prosaic this week. Some talented sorts on show in Punchestown mind. That’s where I will concentrate my energies. There’s a good drop of rain due on Saturday. I’d say we’re looking at soft ground.

The Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at 14.40 is the feature. Andy Dufresne is the favourite. His lofty reputation took a hit last time in Navan. It wasn’t a bad run though. The winner looks to have plenty of ability. Dropping in trip doesn’t look an obvious move for Andy. Mind you this race should be run at a good clip and is over an extended two miles.

He’s not opposed lightly but is opposed nonetheless.

Captain Guinness rates the selection. This horse caused a shock when making a winning debut in Navan. The final flight fall of red hot favourite Blackbow made the headlines. The Captain’s barnstorming finishing effort makes me inclined to think he’d have won anyway.

It was a lovely introduction. The horse was a touch keen early but settled sweetly once finding cover. He jumped with aplomb. The form has real substance. The second would have bolted up in Cork but for a fall. The fourth has also won since, and obviously Blackbow remains a horse of real potential. The Captain will probably want a step up in trip before long.

His substantial raw ability will make this hike in grade easier to overcome. At 10/3 at time of posting, I’ll be backing him to step up.

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The 3m 1f Amateur National Handicap Chase 14.10 sees a rematch between Cheb De Kervinou (CDK) and Biddy The Boss.

They fought out a close finish in Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day. CDK will likely be favoured to take revenge. That’s understandable. He’s 2lbs better off, should come on for his stable debut, and gets the assistance of Patrick Mullins.

I’ll chance Biddy the Boss to confirm the form though.

Her jockey, Mr I P Donoghue isn’t familiar to me. This mare is a straightforward ride though she occasionally jumps to her left but it’s not particularly pronounced. She made the running and jumped impeccably at Fairyhouse.

If Mr Donoghue gets the pace fractions right he should enjoy a tactical advantage as there doesn’t appear much obvious competition for the lead. Dictating the tempo in NH races is always desirable, particularly when combined with gaining ground at the obstacles. My hunch is the market is gong to fall in love with CDK.

I will swim against the tide and hopefully avoid a sinking feeling.

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The 2m 4f Mares Handicap Hurdle 15.15 is moderate fare. Fag An Bealach has the potential to be better than this grade. She was inclined to be keen in bumpers, but seems to be settling down with experience. She ran into a totally unexposed sort in Cork last time. The horses in behind her have run respectably since.

Her finishing effort that day suggested Sunday’s step up in trip will be to her advantage. With only five runs under her belt, the handicapper is guessing a bit. I’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t rate a deal higher than 107 come the end of the season.

Hopefully the climb up the ladder starts on Sunday.

Kelso-racecourse

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The racing in the UK saved the tipping blushes last week. Sadly, Harry Cobden passed on a trip to Kelso in the Scottish Borders. He’ll probably spend the day gazing at his beloved cattle. We can’t rule out the possibility that he’ll spend it walking on water of course.

Hopefully Ryan Mania can show me some love. He takes the ride on Aloomomo in the 12.50. This horse competes from a mark of 110 on Sunday. He has been as high as 140 in the past. Those days are long gone but his comeback over hurdles in Doncaster suggested there’s a day in him.

He finished a not knocked about fifth. That form has yet to be tested but the first and second are unexposed sorts. Aloomomo has a good record fresh but the fact he started over hurdles at a sub-optimal trip suggests it was a tune up. He returns to chasing here.

He also gets an extra couple of furlongs. The rain that’s due on Saturday should ensure an adequate test. Trainer Sandy Thompson has his string in good nick too. Hopefully the market will see the horse as a busted flush.

If so, we’ll get a working man’s price.

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