Three Irish winners from a handful of runners at Cheltenham’s International meeting and not a Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliot inmate in sight. What price are Ireland for the Prestbury Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March?
Elliot sends a couple over to Ayr this afternoon including the juvenile Lucky Fella who receives 7lbs from the older horses in the opening novice hurdle. He must go close, but I feel Wetlands (12.05) can go one better than when runner up at Carlisle last time over an additional half-mile. I hope to see Brian Hughes make plenty of use of his mount who did win a Newcastle Bumper earlier in the year. The selection is 8/11 with 10bet.
Marown (2.15) jumped well but found nothing on his chase debut over the minimum trip and no surprise to see him stepping back up in trip this afternoon. That was his first defeat in four starts having won a Bumper and two hurdles and he remains an exciting prospect although this is something of a retrieval mission as his finishing effort was so tame. The selection is 5/4 from 6/4 with Boylesports.
Soft ground forecast at Plumpton and Mountain Legend (1.18) is taken to make a winning hurdling debut for Venetia Williams. The selection – 11/8 with BetVictor – won a Bumper here last term and is a half-brother to a couple of winners. Hugh Nugent – who was in the saddle for all four Bumper starts – keeps the ride and takes off a valuable 5lbs.
Garrane (1.53) blundered at the last when a clear second at Hereford last time but faded into fourth. The handicapper has seen fit to drop him by a 1lb for that effort and the third horse home – Special Acceptance – was a winner here at the last meeting. Trainer Jeremy Scott has his string in decent form, but they have been hitting the bar rather than finding the back of the net of late. The horse was backed from 9/2 into a best price of 7/2 with William Hill on Sunday.
Gary Moore has a terrific record at Plumpton and his Benevolentdictator will be all the rage having scored at Lingfield on his chase debut from a 6lbs lower mark. The runner up has since gone one better and today’s step up in trip should suit. The stable star Goshen was a bitter disappointment on Saturday, but it is just the price – 11/10 with William Hill – that puts me off the favourite.
There is a terrific Beginners Chase at Naas and I hope to see Lord Royal (2.30) gain compensation for his fall two out at Thurles when he looked to be going best although it would be wrong to suggest he had the race at his mercy. That was over 2m 6f, but he did not look short of speed and I do not feel the drop back to 2m 3f will be an inconvenience although he will get further.
Willie Mullins has almost monopolised Beginners’ Chases in Ireland so far this term and he saddled the winner of this corresponding race 12 months ago with Bapaume. He has two runners today with Karl Der Grosse joining Lord Royal – 13/8 with 10bet – although Longhouse Poet and Coko Beach look the main dangers to the grey who is another exciting Mullins novice chaser.