Latest Exhibition looks like he’ll appreciate the step up in trip to 2m 6f, but Fury Road may prefer softer ground. The one I like is Longhouse Poet who has run against Elixir D’ainay twice this season, most recently when they were third and second respectively to Envoi Allen at Naas.
However, I think Longhouse Poet, who is related to horses who stay 3m plus is going to love the extra two furlongs here and should relish the test of stamina.
I’ll be having a few quid on him for the Albert Bartlett too at the Cheltenham Festival before this race.
Personally, I think Min should be favourite for this race and I will be surprised if he doesn’t start a shorter price on the day. His record away from Cheltenham is phenomenal and sometimes people don’t always appreciate that. He’s rarely out of the frame and has so many wins to his name and loves Leopardstown.
Chacun Pour Soi is all about potential and he beat Defi Du Seuil at Punchestown last May on only his second start in Ireland, but Defi Du Seuil had a hard season by that stage and looks to have improved about 10lbs this term.
It’s dangerous to conclude that Chacun Pour Soi is four lengths better than Defi Du Seuil on that Punchestown run.
He might be – but he needs to show it now.
Min is a massive price on what he’s done in his career to date and if Paul Townend picked him instead of Chacun Pour Soi, he’d be favourite.
Notebook and Fakir Doudairies renew rivalry from their Christmas clash and the time of that race was quite strong.
Fakir Doudairies is 2lbs worse off on Saturday, so it might be a little bit harder for him to turn that form around. If he doesn’t, he won’t be winning at Cheltenham as the weight allowance will be gone.
This race could all come down to tactics.
If Fakir Doudairies, Notebook and Cash Back all press on, they could set it up for one of the others at the business end of the race.
Paul Townend sticks with Melon, but from a purely selfish point of view I want Notebook to win, so we get a price about something else in the Arkle.
I wouldn’t fancy Notebook at all for the Cheltenham Festival. Horses that were rated 130 over hurdlers don’t win the Arkle.
The Ted Walsh-trained Batcio could be one of my best bets on day one.
He looks well treated to me and ran well in his first handicap start here in December.
Honeysuckle has never run a quick time figure and that would worry you if you’re backing her at a short price in a Grade One hurdle. She won impressively at Fairyhouse but Bacardys isn’t the horse he promised to be as a novice and Apples Jade had another off day.
I’m not saying she can’t win but we haven’t seen it yet and if they go hard, she could get found out.
If she wins she will shorten for the Champion Hurdle if connections decide to go there – but I don’t fancy Epatante either for the opening day highlight at the Festival.
Sharjah is lethal at Leopardstown and has won two Grade ones at Christmas here and should have won another when tipping up at the last as a novice when coming to win his race.
The race should set up perfectly for him and he should be closer in the market to the favourite in my book.
I like two against the field here – the likely favourite Unexcepted in the JP McManus colours and one at the bottom of the weights He looks well handicapped and a good pace, better ground and two miles will bring about a lot of improvement.
I absolutely love Tony Martin. He’s a great man and has an excellent record with his runners in this race and saddles The Mouse Doctor. He’s had plenty of placed horses here over the last decade and this one won at Musselburgh last time.
We have Eric Bloodaxe favourite at time of writing and I’d just be worried that Appreciate It won over 2m 4f on soft ground at Christmas and is dropping back to 2m here on what may be better ground.