Well Tuesday’s nap Oscar Rose was a tad unfortunate, the saddle slipping, the tack breaking, Brennan riding bare-back for 6f, managing to somehow stay on over 2 hurdles, and still beaten only a length.
We won’t be needing more bad luck – but hopefully we shouldn’t need much good luck either with Wednesday’s nap, as a long held plan moves towards fruition.
Galway trainer Patrick Kelly and jockey Davy Russell have won the last two runnings of the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham for owner Philip Reynolds, with Mall Dini and our beloved Presenting Percy. That is no small task, this is not Elliott or Mullins, Kelly has only a few horses, buy my God he knows how to prep them.
Inevitably it begs the question of whether a third rabbit can be pulled out of the hat. Step forward Eagle Lion. This well bred horse never made it to the track for Willie Mullins, but has been nursed to full health at the Kelly yard.
A late starter, he made his jumps debut at age 8 with an excellent second to the useful Impact Factor over 2 miles in January. That was shortly followed by a cosy win stepped up to 2m4f in a maiden hurdle at Punchestown.
This is definitely an accelerated campaign, and perhaps not ideal, but the genius of that maiden win was to get a handicap rating just in time to make the field for the final Irish Pertemps Qualifier at Punchestown (1645). The longer trip is an unknown, but he was staying well last time so it should be ok.
On the face of it, a top 6 finish (from 13 runners) is required to qualify for the final. However, history suggests a rating in the mid to high 130s is also needed to make the cut. Eagle Lion has an initial Irish rating of 131 (probably around 135 in UK). That looks very generous, but it also means he’ll need a bump up to be sure of a Final place.
It is all set up for a win in the qualifier to get the weight rise to compete at Cheltenham for that third consecutive title, and in all honesty the horse probably needs to win to justify the journey over.
The dream can stay alive, and Davy Russell knows exactly what is needed, and Eagle Lion is a very confident pick to prevail.
We are posting early on this one as we expect some strong support for the horse, so it is worth seeking out an early best price.
Recommendation: Eagle Lion, (1645 Punchestown), 3pts win, 11/4 Paddy Power
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