Frank Hickey: I’m eyeing up a couple of big priced fancies for Sunday at Leopardstown

In case you don't know, I like to study horses.



12.55 – Strange Notions @ 25/1

It’s an interesting race. Jeremy’s flame would look interesting off the back of her second in the Tolworth Hurdle to Fiddlerontheroof. But I like going for one a bit obscure. A bit like me after a few double gin and tonics in a pint glass, I get Strange Notions and that’s the horse I like here for Charles O’Brien.

Making her handicap debut off 114. She’s had two runs in quick succession at the start of January off the back of running in the flat in the summertime. She was very unlucky not to win at Navan. It screams to me – two quick runs from her at the start of January and then four weeks to this race. Handy money. 114’s a nice mark. She’s a massive price. She’ll be 20/1 plus. They’ll be extra place in that race as well.

Read: All Our Pundits’ Picks for Leopardstown on Sunday in one Cheat Sheet

1.25pm – Aspire Tower @ 1/2

Aspire Tower is just brilliant. He won at Fairyhouse on his first start. It was amazing. He got kinda lit up after the first hurdle and pulled the arms off Rachael Blackmore. He jumped really well though but you thought when he gets to second last that he’d empty out but she gave him a kick and he went again and won by 13 lengths.

The second that day, Sea Ducor for Arthur Moore was backed from double figures into 11/4. Arthur doesn’t leave the money after him normally, it was fancied. The third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth have all won again since he dotted up the last day at Leopardstown.

This thing’s a machine.

If he learns to settle and channel his energy properly, he could do something similar to what Our Conor did in the triumph a few years back. He really is that good potentially.

1.55pm – Asterion Forlonge @ 3/1

Asterion Forlonge for Willie (Mullins) I thought was very good. He won a point to point, very impressively, beating a horse called Assemble by six lengths. He then scrambled home in a bumper at Thurles but that track would have been against him that day. He then returned to a more galloping track at Naas and he was unbelievably impressive, winning very easily. Willie has won before with horses that haven’t been the first string and I think it could run a massive race.

2.30pm – Snugsborough Benny @ 9/1

Snugsborough Benny would be a horse with a profile of being a good chaser, running off a far lower hurdles mark and I think he’ll be a massive danger.

If you’re looking for a horse that will definitely hit the each-way target, Tout Est Permis is the one. He’s rated 156 over fences, has finished second and fourth in two runs over hurdles. He was fourth here at Christmas and he’ll probably hit the frame at least.

3.00pm – Tornado Flyer @ 8/1

I didn’t have much input into my wedding but I did get to name the tables and I named them after horses and the top table was called Faugheen. I met Faugheen once on October the 27th. I cannot tell you the date I met my wife on (I really hope she doesn’t read this).

If he was 7 or 8, he’d be favourite and everyone would be raving about him. The thing is he’s 12 and he’s probably not as good as he used to be. One thing in the back of my mind is that he does need a bit of soft ground now that he’s a bit older. If it’s good, I’m not sure that it will be absolutely ideal for him.

Talking purely betting though, I would take a chance on Tornado Flyer simply because they tried him at two miles the last two times and he looked really uncomfortable. He pulled up at Naas the last time and I think he just wants a trip. The step up to two-mile five will be massively in his favour. He was a very good bumper horse, he won a Punchestown Grade One and a Cheltenham bumper. Depending on the type of price you get, I’d take a chance on him.


3.30pm – Kemboy @ 13/8

I would be surprised if Kemboy isn’t clear favourite for this. He was disappointing at Christmas but at the time a lot of Willie’s were needing the run a bit. If you go back to what he did last year at Aintree and Punchestown, that’s different level to what the rest of them are doing.

The time figure that he generated at Punchestown was massive. Delta Work – you think he’s a stayer – but actually, the races he’s winning are when he’s not that strongly run and he’s able to outsprint them. I’d be very worried if this is strongly run for him.

Presenting Percy, honestly, I just don’t think he’s good enough to win a race like this or a Gold Cup. If he was mine I’d be aiming at a Grand National, get him dropped a few pounds and go at that. He’s done nothing on times to suggest that he can win. I hope Kemboy wins this because he’ll go favourite for the Gold Cup and we’ll get a price for Al Boum Photo.


4.00pm – At The Acorn @ 5/1

I really like At The Acorn. If you go back to when he won a point to point in 2018, he beat a horse called Collooney rated 127 for Ollie Murphy. That horse will win a handicap hurdle at some stage and fourth that day was Fiddlerontheroof who’s about the third favourite for the Supreme, so he has ability.

Tony Martin took the usual slow, slow, approach, but he caught the eye at Leopardstown at Christmas when given a nice handy ride up the back, stayed on nicely and bolted the last in a Novice Chase. He’s gotten a fair whack from the handicapper from 115 up to 131, but I think he’s even better than that and he’s justified to be top of the market. I think he’ll take some beating.

4.35pm – Politesse @ 33/1

Castra Vetera was very impressive on debut for Joseph, winning by seven lengths from Carrigeen Lotus. She’s very interesting. I’m gonna go completely left field here but anyone watching the racing in midweek would have seen that there was a horse at 1,000/1 that won a bumper in Down Royal trained by Lorna Fowler.

That horse absolutely bolted up and you’re asking how that went off at such a big price. So I’m looking at the race and wondering maybe this thing is beating the sh*te out of everything at home and that’s why they didn’t think it was much use.

This horse is called Politesse and it was third in a bumper behind Longhouse Poet and Monkfish. They’re two great horses. It’s a bit of a conspiracy theory, but you could be getting a huge price on this.

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