Yesterday saw Virak (9/2) win at Haydock and that win saw jockey Sean Bowen qualify to ride in the Grand National. His ride is likely to be Paul Nicholls’ Mon Parrain.
Snapping Turtle (10/1) drifted in the morning and did as I thought with the front-running tactics but on the day two were better but place money returned. Grey Gold and Native Que were disappointed.
The best of the racing today comes over in Ireland at Fairyhouse and there are three selections.
Call Me PJ (7/1) looks the pick of the field here after winning well at Navan on similar ground last time out. His run before that saw him finish fourth but behind two very good horses in Blair Perrone, who won well last time out, and Silver Concorde. A run to that ability should see him beat off his opposition, which doesn’t look the strongest. On the flat he was a useful type after finishing second behind Windsor Park, who went on to Neptune Hurdle at Cheltenham, so there is some solid form in the book. Oliver McKiernan has had one winner and two seconds from his last five rides, so he can keep that good form going here.
Sir Scorpion looks beatable and is a short price. His win at Leopardstown last time out doesn’t look the strongest of form so he does look vulnerable at the head of the market. Greatness won two starts ago with Shane Shortall on board, just like today, plus the 5lb claim available could see him danger the selection. Eight-year-old Inseperate is unexposed and off a mark of 100 could also have potential to go well.
This Mares Hurdle looks quite interesting with some good British raiders. Mares Hurdle third at Cheltenham Bitofapuzzle (3/1) catches the eye here returning to her favoured soft/heavy ground. She ran a cracker at Cheltenham on quicker ground and goes well when having frequent runs. The only possibly drawback I can find is that she prefers further than the trip so expect her to be settled in midfield before powering home against what should be tired opposition. Noel Fehily has won on her four times and the pair gets on well together so she will take some beating.
The Pirate’s Queen was fourth in that Mares race at Cheltenham and also followed Bitofapuzzle home at Haydock. She has been put up 7lb for that effort, which would be a slight concern but has the quality to be close. Carrigmoorna Rock is the main danger. She won well twice, one of those at Newbury, before being pulled up last time out. If you forgive her that run she could be a progressive type to keep onside. If she repeats her performance when winning at Leopardstown she will be there or thereabouts come the closing stages.
Apache Stronghold (9/2) was second to Vautour in the JLT while Valseur Lido was third. That form should stand up here and see Noel Meade’s gelding take the prize money. Apache Stronghold was beaten in the Drinmore Grade 1 here in November but reversed that form when winning the Flogas Novices SteepleChase in February at Leopardstown and held that form up at Cheltenham therefore a repeat performance looks to be on the cards. He was also only beaten by 3l by RSA Chase winner Don Poli, who won that Cheltenham race by 6l suggesting Meade’s horse is the one to beat here.
Valseur Lido has been campaigned quite lightly and the six-year-old could still progress here. The ground shouldn’t be a problem as he won he first two starts over hurdles on similar ground. The mare Gitane Du Berlais gets a weight allowance but looks fair too short against some decent male counterparts. Her form doesn’t look the strongest but did she beat JLT fourth Irish Saint in January. I put up Smashing each-way in the Arkle, he disappointed that day and could take third here returning to more preferable ground conditions.
Possibly look at a reverse forecast of Apache Stronghold and Valseur Lido.
The Irish Grand National is tomorrow, so there will be another piece on this race in the blog to watch out for.