NAP OF THE DAY:
Ballyward – (1730 – National Hunt Chase) – 3pts win, 3/1
We’re leaving the best ’til last on day one of the best racing week of the year. The 4m NH Chase for amateur riders has become much more of a championship event since a rules change a few years back, and that favours those with proven form at the head of the market. Ballyward was a good fourth in the Albert Bartlett hurdle here last year, a chase winner in a strong event at Naas last time and runs for last year’s winning trainer-jockey combination. Fellow favourite OK Corral surely runs too exuberantly for this marathon, and the biggest threat looks likely to be Discorama.
RACE OF THE DAY:
Laurina – (1530 Champion Hurdle) – 2pts win, 4/1
The main event revolves around three big guns. Amazingly they have never raced each other so there is plenty of conjecture in reaching a pick. Buveur D’Air goes for a hat-trick in the race, he is lightning over his hurdles but has won two poor editions of this and the forecast heavy rain may blunt the impact of that hurdling speed. He also has to give 7lbs to two excellent mares. Apple’s Jade may be the best horse here, she has a patchy record at the course though, and with the rain that makes Laurina potentially the value. She sluiced home in the mud in a minor race here last season, and takes her first shot at this elevated class – the weather gods have been kind.
REST OF THE CARD:
Angels Breath – (1330 Supreme Novices) – 1pt win, 5/1
A tricky opening race should be treated with caution. Free running Al Dancer, and rare 4yo youngster Fakir D’Oudairies both look short enough in the market on what they have done. Money for Klassical Dream and Angels Breath makes sense with the rain forecast, and Vision D’Honneur could be a lively outsider. With our original pick Elixir De Nutz ruled out at the last minute, Angels Breath gets a narrow vote in a tough race.
Glen Forsa – (1410 Arkle Chase) – 1pt win, 4/1
Always run at an absolute blast. The rain looks likely to play to the strengths of Glen Forsa and Hardline and this should be between the two. Glen Forsa has the more obvious form chance and the likely downpour will be a massive boost to his chances as it may dull the early pace and allow his jumping to take him to the front without a cut-throat battle. We were keen on Hardline in the build up to this and he still has a huge chance as the one to benefit if the early pace battle is prolonged. But in the mud, Glen Forsa gets the fractional nod.
Calipto – (1450 Ultima Chase) – 0.5pts ew, 20/1
The first big handicap, and again conditions look sure to play a part with defending champion Coo Star Sivola and fellow festival handicap winner Mister Whitaker obviously well placed to repeat their heroics. Give Me A Copper has been all the rage and we really liked his chance bit the heavy rain may not be ideal on the day for a horse in a tongue tie. He is still our favoured of the market leaders, but it is probably worth looking for a surprise in the mud, and Calipto looks worth the risk at the price having run well at previous festivals without much luck ’til now.
Roksana – (1610 Mares Hurdle) – 1pt win, 7/1
Not a huge fan of odds-on defending champ Benie Des Dieux on her first run in 11 months. Last year’s win was pretty ordinary once you strip a below par Apple’s Jade from the result. Original fancy Stormy Ireland has a chance of making all, but the heavy rain may make this too much of a test, but should play to the strengths of Roksana. She ran the useful Santini close at Aintree last year, and although well beaten in her seasonal debut, that third to Buveur D’Air over just 2m was still pretty respectable.
A Plus Tard – (1650 Close Bros Chase) – 1pt win, 7/1
The Irish have a poor record in this, as do horses who haven’t had handicap experience, but the market is dominated by just such types. A Plus Tard is one such, and it goes against type a bit to pick him here, but he has bags of potential and could be much better than this class. Riders On the Storm is a similar type and a clear danger. Trends fans will much prefer the handicap form of both Roaring Bull and Solomn Grundy, with the “Bull” in particular looking worthy of a cover bet for those liking more than one iron in the fire.
The Daily Yankee:
Glen Forsa – Laurina – A Plus Tard – Ballyward
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