Last weekend we had Ciara. This weekend it’s Dennis. Such innocuous titles. There must be a case for naming storms after fictional villains. Storm Skeletor would at least sound serious enough to justify wrecking my racing plans. At the time of writing it looks like Gowran Park will survive on Saturday. Hopefully Sunday’s card in Navan gets the go ahead. It is likely to be the last chance Irish racegoers get to see Tiger Roll on home soil. The conditions will be extremely testing.
The Tiger lines up in the Boyne Hurdle at 1.50 pm. He won the corresponding race last year at 25/1. His trainer had described him as half fit before that race. This time around Gordon Elliott has stated the horse is less fit than last year. It’s hard to know what to make of that. Tiger won’t be 25/1 this time around. My hunch is he will go off bigger that the 7/2 Paddy currently offers though.
He shoulders a penalty and faces a couple of in form rivals. Bachasson went off favourite for this race last year but sustained an injury and hasn’t run since. He strikes me as another horse that will drift. Penhill looks a shadow of his former self. Last year’s National second Magic Of Light is respected but also carries a penalty.
Kilfenora is a worthy favourite. This horse is up to a mark of 152 after two impressive handicap performances. On his latest start at this course he gave 10 pounds, and a comfortable beating, to the well regarded Alfa Mix. It was a long way back to the third that day. Kilfenora has to step up to graded company here. The way he travels in his races strongly suggests he can do so. This fast improving horse can post another career best effort here. That should be good enough.
Bay Ambition has cost me a few quid of late. I’m not ready to give up on her yet. She lines up in the mares handicap hurdle at 2.55 pm. She took a bad fall at this track two runs back. I was a bit worried that might leave a mark. Not a bit of it. She jumped really well last time out in Limerick. I was watching that race on a big screen in Leopardstown, counting my winnings jumping the third last. Sadly the Ambition couldn’t get by the winner.
In the end she was beaten 8 lengths. The winner that day, Miss Cognac, was an unexposed mare on handicap debut. The third has run well since. It’s probably decent form for the grade. Miss Cognac put that theory to the test in the 2.19 pm race in Gowran on Saturday. Bay Ambition has gone up another two pounds for that Limerick second. Not ideal obviously but I’ve a feeling she’s still well handicapped. I will back that feeling on Sunday.
The Ten Up Novice Chase at 4pm doesn’t look a vintage renewal. Speak Easy has the most potential but took a cruel fall in Punchestown last time out. That may leave a mark. Minella Fair comes here off the back of a placed effort in the Thyestes. I don’t really rate that form but he can’t be discounted. Perhaps Captain Cj can get off the mark over fences in this Grade Two race. He hasn’t done much wrong since going chasing, having the misfortune to bump into Champagne Classic, Carefully Selected and Minella Indo.
All three of those feature highly in the betting for races at the Cheltenham festival. The Captain did take a tumble in Punchestown on penultimate outing. He’s generally a sound jumper though. He’s also a dour stayer. Barely raceable conditions in Navan should be just the ticket. He’s not going to be a big price but given he yet to win over fences and represents a small yard he may be a bigger price than he should be.
Uaintseennothingyet also looks worthy of support in the handicap chase at 4.35pm. This horse finished third in Naas last time out. I backed the second that day. I realise this blog is in danger of degenerating into a list of my losing bets. That day Uaintseennothingyet and Star Max fought out a protracted duel up the home straight in Naas. Star Max finally got the better of it but was mugged late on by Best Behaviour.
Star Max is a promising chaser and Best Behaviour is improving fast. Uaintseennothingyet could be improving too. He is a 9 year old but has only had 12 career starts. He steps up in trip here. His only run over three miles came in a Cork hurdle. He ran too badly to infer anything. It wasn’t a lack of stamina that got him beaten in Naas. He looked a stayer in novice hurdles. My hunch is he will improve for this trip. If so he can cope with a two pound rise in what looks an inferior race to Naas.