Supreme Novices Hurdle
Day 1 and we can hear that roar already, the Supreme kicks us off. Is Willie Mullins set to restore his dominance in the race can Facile Vega bounce back after his disappointing effort at the Dublin Racing Festival.
For me Facile Vega is just too short on the back of last time now, he might be top class and in the right hands as we know but he`s going to have to be ridden cold and it takes a lot to bring a horse back after racing on the front end a few occasions.
Also, in the last 20 years Grade 1s at the festival, horses that failed to make the top four finish on a prep run within 6 weeks of the festival are 6/315 and below market expectation just not ideal.
I actually thought Il Etait Temps put up a good performance that day when beating his stablemate but I`m just not convinced with his profile for a race like this being a juvenile hurdle last season when finishing 5th in the triumph, yes was only second start since moving from France at the time but the one that I’m most interested in from that race is Inthepocket.
The ground looks to have turned in favour of the Henry De Bromhead runner, he`s already a winner over further and if this turns into somewhat of a stamina test late, I can see him finishing the race out the best. He looks fair each way value.
The one for me though is Marine Nationale the 100-day layoff is seen as a negative and admittedly for this particular race only 2 winners of last 28 winners hadn’t run in the same calendar year but if you look to more fancied runners in graded races, they actually have a really good record, 9 of the last 31 close to 30% Strike rate. Willie Mullins has started doing it more and I remember the Pipe team with Liberman and Moon Racer winning the bumper, if you set one out that’s proven themselves it`s no problem and this very much seems to be the case.
4 starts unbeaten I thought he travelled and was ridden like the best horse in the Royal Bond, despite things not going completely to plan he was well on top at the finish despite only winning a head and that forms good. A large field bumper winner and given the confident vibes I think they know what they have. Barry Connell is having a great time of things this year and I think this lad can give him his first Cheltenham Festival winner as a trainer, No issues with Michael O`Sullivan either very good up and coming Jockey.
Selection: Marine Nationale – Each Way Alternative: Inthepocket
Onto the Arkle and one of the most eagerly anticipated clashes of the week. El Fabiolo vs Jonbon.
Simple for me I think Jonbon wins, should be favourite and he just looks rock solid. I Think he did well over hurdles taking out Constitution Hill he was best of these and that says a lot about his ability as he was never as forward as some of the Irish horse’s last season. Warwick last time did not bother me at all and was a very similar to performance to his prep last year in a way. Jumps, travels, better pace will suit him see he just sits behind leaders taken into the race before picking them off. This is also where Nicky is just so strong front 2 betting graded races won last time out 21 winners 45% strike rate SP profit.
I`m not convinced with El Fabiolo despite the good performance on the clock in the Irish Arkle I just think his jumping will be put under too much pressure, Dysart Dynamo is tricky to work out and I much prefer from each way angle especially on how the race is likely to be ran Saint Roi. The Willie Mullins third string was fourth in last seasons Champion Hurdle behind Honeysuckle doing all his best work late on. He unseated a bit freakishly last time in the Irish Arkle but that can be forgiven and in a race which we could see a pace collapse he should be the one finishing best of the field late on.
Selection Jonbon – Each Way Alternative Saint Roi
Ultima Handicap Chase
The first handicap of the week and one in which the English normally dominate. Can last year’s winner Corach Rambler take it again?
Off a 7lb higher mark than last year he has to be respected being proven in the race but for me it takes a lot to come back and win this race twice and I`m happy to let win given current odds.
One who makes appeal from last years renewal though is Fantastikas. He looked to struggle to deal the demands of the race last year being a first season chaser I just think it was to much for him that day. That experience should help in this year’s race and he’s dropped 12lbs since last year for only being beaten 13 lengths in end. He ran with a bit more promise last time out at Wincanton and with the ground coming in his favour(3 mile heavy ground winner) all looks set for a big run. First time Cheekpieces also go on in a race in which 10 of the last 15 winners wore Cheekpieces or Blinkers.
Selection Fantastikas – Each Way Alternative Harpers Brook