I’m still in Cheltenham. Due to return on Wednesday evening. Returning to what I don’t know. It’s a curious thing to be stuck between two very different responses to a crisis. Over here they’re belting out hymns in the local church, washing hands at an unprecedented level, and shaking their heads at the notion of us closing the pubs.
They could be right of course. The gambler in me half admires U.K government policy. My days are normally filled with either going racing or going to the library. Upon my return those particular avenues of pleasure will be closed off. There is still racing on the telly. Must be thankful for small mercies. Here’s a preview of the Saint Patrick’s Day action in Ireland on Tuesday.
Down Royal looks a trappy card. The feature race at 4.10pm has only five runners. Piece of cake I hear you say. Looks more like a live grenade to me. None of them can win is my useless take.
The handicap hurdle at 2.25pm offers up an opportunity. Plentiful is an obvious selection. We may get a reasonable price though. The layers will be looking at the fact he went off 25/1 last time. They will also see he ran in first-time cheekpieces.
Those are legitimate concerns but I’m more than hopeful he can repeat the form. If he does he should win. He’s also an unexposed horse who should be improving. He has run in two handicaps, making mistakes in both races. Despite errors at three of the last four hurdles, Plentiful finished a close third in Clonmel last time.
That form looks solid with only the top two in the betting finishing in front of him. It was miles back to the fourth. As I said that form could well be good enough here. I’m hopeful his jumping will improve.
He looks worth a bet.
Heavy ground is the order of the day in Wexford. Hopefully the emphasis on stamina can help my next selection. My Club Colours runs in the 3.15pm. She is an improving mare. She got off the mark in Punchestown earlier this year before failing to cope with an 8lb rise next time out in Navan. That looks decent form though. The winner was well backed in first time cheekpieces.
The second has won since. Both those runs were over two and a half miles. My Club Colours drops to the minimum trip on Tuesday. I expect Sean O’Keefe to ensure a good test. This mare surely has more improvement to come. Hopefully that can compensate for the sub optimal trip.
Scheu Time can take advantage of a class drop in the handicap hurdle at 3.50pm. This horse bolted up in Cork last December. That race has worked out really well. The Scheu subsequently ran well in a red hot handicap hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival. He was then well beaten in a Champion Hurdle trial in Gowran.
We’re a long way from Champion Hurdle talk on Tuesday. The Scheu now runs off a mark 10lbs higher than his Cork win. He still looks fairly treated to me though. His class edge – coupled with a proven ability to handle heavy ground – should be enough to get the job done here.
Finally to the veterans chase at 4.25pm. This valuable prize has only attracted seven runners. It looks a competitive affair all the same. Mark Walsh rides Kitten Rock for J.P McManus here. I wouldn’t read too much into jockey bookings. Mind you, it might mean we get a price about nominal second string Scoir Mear. This horse responded well to cash when finishing second in Leopardstown last time out.
He couldn’t cope with Gun Digger but was well clear of the solid Poker Party in third. Scoir Mear isn’t a model of consistency. He caused a big shock when winning in Navan last March. Encouragingly, he looked to be in the process of backing that run up when falling four fences from home at the Punchestown Festival.
Maybe he’s a horse who comes alive in springtime. He got a 2lb rise for that Leopardstown second. He still looks well handicapped to me.
I’ll chance a few quid that he can put two good runs together.