A Tuesday of Lingfield, Newcastle and Southwell sounds like an all-weather smorgasbord, but in fact two of those offer us jumps racing. For a bet though we are going to the Emerald Isle and a good looking card at Punchestown.
Irish jump racing usually contains a mix of small field quality races, and massive field handicaps and novice hurdles. One of the reasons for the large field sizes is the relatively restricted programme, with several days a week of no racing, which concentrates entries into just a few meetings.
One consequence of a light racing programme is that there are few opportunities for horses who win handicaps to try and beat the handicapper by following up before being re-rated. It takes a particularly well planned strategy to get a horse well enough handicapped to win one of these big field handicaps, and also time the entries to allow for a follow up run whilst carrying a penalty.
Two of Ireland’s best have managed to pull off the first part of that plan. Jessica Harrington sends Wings Like Arion to the mares handicap hurdle (1455), carrying a 6lb penalty for winning a 17 runner Gowran handicap last week by 11 lengths and 13 lengths on a debut handicap run. A rise of around 12lbs looks likely for that effort so she looks supremely well in. Of course she is priced appropriately, but this really should be a tap-in.
Handicap genius Gordon Elliott brings Poormans Hill here straight off the back of a win at Fairyhouse on Saturday on his return to hurdles. Again a 4lb penalty in this instance looks pretty generous given the ease of that 6.5l win, and stable jockey Jack Kennedy should have few problems following up here. Once again a short price, but understandably so.
We will look to make the penalty theory pay by doubling these two good things.
Recommendation: Wings Like Arion (1455 Punchestown) & Poormans Hill (1630 Punchestown), 1pt win double, approx. 3/1
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