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Facile Vega will be tough to beat in the Champion Bumper
Facile Vega is bred to be something out of the ordinary – he is by leading sire Walk In The Park and out of six-time Cheltenham Festival Quevega – and he looked something special when landing the Grade 2 Goffs Future Stars bumper by 12 lengths at the Dublin Racing Festival on Saturday.
Willie Mullins won the race two seasons ago with Appreciate It, who earned a Timeform rating of 119, and he also struck last year with Kilcruit, who earned a lofty Timeform rating of 124. Mullins’ latest bumper star Facile Vega matched Kilcruit’s rating with a hugely impressive display, and, given the ease of victory, he still has the ‘p’ for potential improvement attached to his rating.
Appreciate It and Kilcruit both had to settle for second in the Champion Bumper, but they were unlucky to bump into talented rivals in Ferny Hollow and Sir Gerhard respectively. It will take a big performance to stop Facile Vega, who is 5 lb clear of American Mike (119p) on ratings and a long way ahead of the remainder.
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Chacun Pour Soi is in the Champion Chase mix
Everyone is looking forward to Shishkin and Energumene clashing again following their epic encounter in the Clarence House Chase, but it would be a mistake to bill the Champion Chase as a match.
Shishkin is Timeform’s highest-rated horse in training with a figure of 181+, while Energumene, who was a length behind at Ascot, is next on 180. They are closely followed, however, by Chacun Pour Soi, whose five-and-a-half-length defeat of Allaho at Punchestown last season earned him a rating of 179.
Chacun Pour Soi has disappointed on both trips to Britain, including in last year’s Champion Chase when weakening up the hill, so he has something to prove on that front, but he at least demonstrated his wellbeing at Leopardstown on Sunday, putting in an electric display of jumping on his way to easily landing a third consecutive Dublin Chase. If he puts his best foot forward he has the ability to get in the shake-up in the Champion Chase.
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Ballymore looks the best option for Sir Gerhard
Sir Gerhard’s emphatic six-length success in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown on Sunday earned him a Timeform rating of 152p, the highest by a novice hurdler this season. It would be slightly surprising, though, were he to end the season at the top of the pile as stablemate Dysart Dynamo (150p) and Nicky Henderson’s duo Constitution Hill (151P) and Jonbon (149p) have shown huge potential.
That trio seem set to meet in what is shaping up to be a stellar edition of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, so it would make more sense for Sir Gerhard to step up in trip and tackle the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
He has yet to race over further than two miles under rules, but the way he kept up a good gallop on Sunday offers encouragement for his prospects of proving as effective over two and a half miles. Given the likely level of opposition, he would hold stronger claims in the Ballymore than he would in the Supreme.
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