Another day and another big success, this time in the shape of the meeting’s banker for us in the shape of Paisley Park. One of the biggest days for us comes in the shape of the last day with the last two of our ante-post selections running, including one as the day’s strongest favourite.
13:50 – 2m1f (2m179y) (New) JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo):
If you follow this blog, then we are in the right place with Sir Erec; One has to hope the stone bruise he picked up last week hasn’t had too much of an effect and then to wait for the result. For an each/way bet, perhaps give Tiger Tap Tap another chance. He was second to Sir Erec by a neck on his hurdling debut and was desperately unsuited by the way the race developed at Leopardstown. This will be a different case and both he and Gardens of Babylon can do better here. Pic D’Orhy, who overdid things on the front end in the Prix Cambaceres whilst Quel Destin also deserves respect.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Tiger Tap Tap (10/1 general)
Already Advised: 1 pt each/way Sir Erec, Triumph, 27th December (16/1 general)
14:10 – 2m1f (2m179y) (New) Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+):
There wouldn’t be many better form performances than the third of Leoncalvallo in the Galway Hurdle last year, when Sharjah, a two time Grade 1 winner since, took victory then. He was ahead of Bedrock (since a winner of the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle), with Le Richebourg behind in fifth and Good Thyne Tara behind in sixth. Whiskey Sour, favourite today, was seventh. 16/1 feels too big for him,
Gordon Elliot’s string have been much better in the past two days after a poor start to Thursday and Éclair De Beaufeu, having just a second run in a handicap, could be the best of a clutch of five-year-olds here. He was never really threatening in the Grade B Ladbrokes Hurdle but this track will surely suit more and a number of Gigginstown horses thundered home late under patient tactics too.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Leoncavallo (16/1 general), 1 pt each/way Éclair De Beaufeu (10/1 general)
3m (2m7f213y) (New) Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices’ Hurdle) (Class 1) (4yo+):
Fingers are crossed for Commander Of Fleet, but there are two big snags in the plan: Firstly the ground, which is softer than he’d raced on by a good margin, and the lack of experience that he has. Look through the previous winners of this event and one thing becomes clear; The more experience one has the better.
The majority of winners have had at least seven starts, but three recent winners had at least 15 starts, and the only lightly raced horses to win have taken two RSA Chases and a Gold Cup, so it is an elite achievement. Whilst the likes of Birchdale, Allaho, Rhinestone and Dickie Diver have lots of potential, they could all show their best after today.
Lisnagar Oscar has plenty of experience but his best form has been on good ground, and this applies to Dinons too. Rockpoint, if returning to the form which saw him beat Lisnagar Oscar earlier in the season, can go well at a big price here and perhaps Stoney Mountain is also capable of doing so. He’s a heavy ground winner who found Lisanagar Oscar too quick last time but a long slog could see him keep on rolling.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Stoney Mountain (33/1 general)
Already Advised: 1 pt each/way Commander Of Fleet, 2019 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (10/1 general), 2nd February
15:30 – 3m2½f (3m2f70y) (New) Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5yo+):
Hard to remember a more competitive renewal. There’s a huge amount of strength in depth beyond the front three but it’s very hard not to fall on one of Presenting Percy, Native River, or Clan Des Obeaux, with the rain that has hit the course tipping things in favour of last year’s winner. That, along with the course, gives him the slight edge on Clan Des Obeaux in the eyes of yours truly. Presenting Percy’s unorthodox prep shouldn’t stop him from running his best race – and it would be a shame if that were to the case.
Of the rest? Where even to begin, as there are so many; We have a nice price about Anibale Fly, who ran really well at Gowran – a chance is taken that Kemboy’s Savils Chase win wasn’t a fluke – he certainly has plenty of soft and heavy ground form, and a ton of tactical speed to boot. He gets the nod over Bellshill, Invitation Only and Elegant Escape.
Advice: 2 pts win Native River (9/2 general), 1 pt each/way Kemboy (10/1 general)
Already Advised: 1 pt each/way Anibale Fly, Gold Cup (33/1 general), 16th Feb
16:10 – St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase(Class 2) (5YO plus):
Ten or so likely contenders here but with a clear round – he was shuffled through the pack early on and then hit the second last year – Caid Du Berlais is capable of going very well. He was brilliant at Punchestown afterwards and also in a nice prep at Bishops Court too. Shantou Flyer is next best but this is unbelievably competitive.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Caid Du Berlais (15/2 general)
16.50 – 2m½f (2m62y) (New) Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)(Class 1) (5yo+):
Thirteen of the last 37 runnings have been won by novices (more impoertantly four of the last ten) and Whatswrongwithyou might not be the finished article over fences but he still looks progressive and handles Cheltenham better than Brelan D’As, who beat him in December on heavy ground at Haydock. Most novices aren’t rated as high as him but he looks progressive enough. Marracudja is coming back to form and remains on quite a handy mark – and perhaps he’s now finding his best for the Skeltons.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Whatswrongwithyou (8/1 general), 1 pt each/way Marracudja (16/1 general)
17:30 – 2m4½f (2m4f56y) (New) Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-145): Dallas Des Picton’s second to City Island and 3 mile handicap win are pieces of form give him a big chance, and he is one of two against the field, the other being Getareason, who has lots of smart form.
Advice: 2 pts win Dallas Des Picton (7/2 general), 1 pt each/way Getareason (12/1 general)