Faugheen’s fencing will be put to the test
Faugheen is now a 12-year-old, but he is still the highest-rated novice chaser we have seen so far in 2019/20. He didn’t need to be at his best to record a third straight win over fences in the Flogas Novice Chase.
And while the form doesn’t look as strong as his Limerick success the time before, you have to give Faugheen credit as he dug deep under pressure to hold off the challenge of smart stablemate Easy Game.
There is no doubt that he still possesses a big engine, but the one concern with Faugheen is his jumping – he was not always fluent in the Flogas and was always prone to mistakes over hurdles.
His jumping will come under more scrutiny at Cheltenham, which is worth bearing in mind as he is now 6/1 favourite for the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
Delta Work a rock-solid Gold Cup contender
Al Boum Photo and Monalee were just about the only leading Irish stayers missing from what was a cracking renewal of the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday and, with the pace a sound one, the cream duly rose to the top as the three market principals fought things out, an assured round of jumping by Delta Work proving decisive.
It was another step forward for Gordon Elliott’s progressive seven-year-old who took his record over fences to six wins from eight starts. A reliable type, Delta Work looks one of the more solid candidates for the Gold Cup in March, particularly as further improvement can’t be ruled out, and the added emphasis on stamina over the longer trip will be right up his street.
It is no surprise that he is now vying for favouritism with the defending champion Al Boum Photo and recent Cotswold Chase winner Santini.
Supreme showing from Asterion Forlonge
The Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle often proves to be really strong form, and in both years since the distance was reduced to two miles the winner has gone on to follow up comfortably at the Cheltenham Festival – Samcro in the Ballymore and Klassical Dream in the Supreme Novices Hurdle.
On two other occasions in the last decade a Mullins-trained winner went on to land the Supreme Novices Hurdle, and it would not be a surprise if Asterion Forlonge also proved successful at Cheltenham, so impressive was he on Sunday.
Asterion Forlonge only made his debut over hurdles at the turn of the year, but already looks one of the brightest novices around – Envoi Allen included – and the way he dismantled a pair who had looked really good prospects beforehand marks him down as one to follow.
His owner now has the two leading candidates for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but Asterion Forlonge’s form entitles him to be favourite over Shishkin. One thing to consider, though, is that the Ballymore could also be an option for Asterion Forlonge, who is unbeaten in a point, a bumper, and now two hurdle races.
*These prices are ante-post and odds and entries are subject to change until final declarations are made.