JP McManus’ horse Ena Baie ran very well in a Novice handicap at Leopardstown on Boxing Day and The Mouse Doctor who finished just behind that day has franked the form. Drury is the obvious one as the race is named after Willie Mullins’ dad, Paddy.
In fact, an each/way bet on Ena Baie is my nap of the weekend.
This will give some of the English trainers a sighter going into the Cheltenham Festival. I’ve been super impressed with Aspire Tower, who had won his last two, including a Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on Boxing Day. Aspire still looked a bit green rolling around while out in front, but there’s no doubting this horse’s ability and he’ll only get better with runs.
Cerberus is the form guide for the UK horses as he was second to All Mankind at Chepstow.
Blue Sari was beaten only by Envoi Allen in the bumper at Cheltenham last year and with Thyme Hill who was third franking the form, there is every reason to forgive him his last run. I’m willing to forgive and he is the selection at a decent price.
Silver Sheen has improved and will need to go up a few more pounds to get in at Cheltenham. He impressed at Warwick and is a solid each-way where Paddy is paying on the places. Column of Fire is the one who could be the best-handicapped horse in the field though.
Faugheen. Could he? It would lift the roof off the stand if he did! I think he’s vulnerable at the top of the market, purely because he’s come to the table late. He did look good at Limerick, but you wonder when a horse gets to that age (12), how many of those types of performances they can keep putting up. That’s the only concern you have.
Of those with younger legs Battleoverdoyen looked really good in the early part of last season before he bombed out at Cheltenham. I can remember being down at the start at Cheltenham and watching him walk around and I couldn’t believe what a big horse he was, but how light he’d got.
We subsequently learned he hadn’t drunk any water when he’d been at Cheltenham.
The horse was basically rattled while he was over there, which may explain his poor showing.
I think over this trip, Faugheen is a class act and if he puts on a performance like he did at Limerick, Battleoverdoyen won’t beat him. But he is an older horse and you have to ask how many times he can do that a season. This could be his chance for Battleoverdoyen to land a big one. I just feel the ground is the key here and because of that I am going to side with him.
I love Presenting Percy and I want him to win here. I hope they ride him positively as this is probably sharp enough for him with the ground drying out. Bellshill is one I will back each-way. Ruby said on the podcast the other day that some of this lads homework is top class and at 14/1 I can’t help but have an interest.
Kemboy – if allowed to dictate matters as he did at Aintree and Punchestown – is the one to beat but I am hoping Patrick Mullins works his magic.
Robin DebForet is a strong traveller and just the sort for a race like this but is not the hardiest of finishers. Any Second Now was still in with a chance last time when getting hampered so he gets the nod.
Lady Temperance looks to be a huge price to me and is my selection