NAP OF THE DAY:
Capitaine – (1410 County Hurdle) 3pts win, 12/1
Trainer Nicholls has a superb record in this race and along with Willie Mullins they supply the two likely to contest this. Mullins’ Whiskey Sour is a big player having led over the last in this race last year before finishing third. However, we have rarely seen a horse in such demonstrably good form as Capitaine when he was bouncing like Tigger on his way to winning a nice little race at Taunton last time. That was after a wind operation and he was given a confident ride by Harry Cobden. He’ll need to give him a Topofthegame style hold up ride here as it can be a long way home from the last bend, but as long as he is patient, he should have the horse to win.
RACE OF THE DAY:
Presenting Percy – (1530 Gold Cup), 2pts win, 7/2
Just about our favourite horse after 2 festival wins, but rarely seen this season with just one hurdles run at Gowran Park in January. A very unconventional preparation that’s for sure, but typical of his enigmatic genius of a trainer. On his RSA winning form of last year he should go very close, with this stiffer test likely to be even more in his favour. Defending champ Native River and rising star Clan Des Obeaux are the clear dangers, but if Percy finds his rhythm for Davy Russell then he can bring the house down for his army of fans.
REST OF THE CARD:
Sir Erec – (1330 Triumph Hurdle), 1pt win, 5/4
By far the most outstanding of these on the flat and on all known evidence over hurdles too. We don’t like to back at these short prices, but he really looks hard to beat. For those liking longer odds, stablemate Gardens of Babylon looks likely to enjoy this course more than the flat tracks of his recent good efforts and can chase his more talented stablemate up the hill.
Lisnagar Oscar – (1450 Albert Bartlett Hurdle), 1pt win, 6/1
This gruelling test for novices demands experience and proven staying ability. Rebecca Curtis has won this before and has given Lisnagar Oscar the textbook preparation in key trials for this when second here in December and then improving on that with an impressive Haydock win. Allaho is a beautiful horse and could be the danger is settling better than in his runs to date.
Caid Du Berlais – (1610 Foxhunters Chase), 1pt win, 12/1
Just failed to stay in this race last year when fading into a close fifth. Was subsequently a wide margin winner at Punchestown, and having not been seen since it was a relief that he reappeared with a simple point-to-point win earlier this month. This looks likely to be on a slightly less testing surface than last year, and he can beat a couple of useful Irish challengers who look just a bit too short in the market.
Mind’s Eye – (1650 Grand Annual), 1pt win, 14/1
We do like and respect the chances of favourite Magic Saint who looked capable of acting in a class above this when cruising to a recent Ludlow win. But this race is known for being ideal for novice’s and the Irish have done particularly well. Mind’s Eye has been suitably busy gaining experience and impressed us when running a nice race on ground too fast at Leopardstown. Rachael Blackmore, so brilliant on A Plus Tard, can guide him to a win here if able to meet the fences with similar accuracy and come throw from behind in a race always run way too fast.
Early Doors – (1730 Martin Pipe Hurdle), 1pt win, 8/1
Dallas Des Pictons is a worthy favourite after a good win at Leopardstown last time, but the way he tanks along in his races is a cause for concern at these odds. Instead, last year’s 3rd Early Doors can go two better for chip-off-the-old-block trainer Joseph O’Brien and chip-off-the-old-block jockey Jonjo O’Neill Jnr. Kept to Grade 1 races this season he has given no chance for the handicapper to chart any progress from last year, thus leaving him on very similar mark. The eye-catching Cartwright, and the long absent Acapella Bourgeois are interesting rivals but this looks like a long held plot for Early Doors.
The Daily Yankee:
Capitaine – Presenting Percy – Mind’s Eye – Early Doors
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