Irish Eyes: Logical choice
Our Irish Eyes column has a strong fancy at Leopardstown this afternoon, but Hurricane Fly is possibly best watched.
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Hurricane Fly would have been the automatic selection for the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle were it not for his well-documented stone bruise and, more worryingly, his bad workout on Wednesday.
When interviewed on RTE yesterday, Willie Mullins could not be absolutely certain that both were related and if he cannot be sure, then it is best to keep a watching brief today.
If Hurricane Fly can win on the bridle, then he will but be under no illusions, Ruby Walsh will have one eye on Cheltenham, and there is no way that Hurricane Fly will be given a hard time so quickly after this setback, with the Festival just over six weeks away.
It would be remiss of this column to tip up an odds-on shot when he is under a cloud so we will move on.
The Dermot Weld-trainer Stuccodor takes the eye in the Leopardstown Sports Lounge Maiden Hurdle as this former high class Flat horse returns to the scene of his first hurdle race last month where he ran a cracker. Rated 104 on the level, Stuccodor recorded five straight wins beating subsequent Group winners Fiesolana and Euphrasia amongst others before turning his sights to the winter game.
Two of those five Flat wins came here at Leopardstown and there was plenty of encouragement to be taken from his first hurdles start here in December, in what was arguably the best maiden hurdle run in Ireland this season.
He was beaten six and a half lengths by Western Boy on that occasion and the winner went on to run the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle favourite Vautour to half a length in a Grade Two.
The second home Kylestyle has since won at Thurles whilst the third, Daneking, would have scored at Fairyhouse but for a mistake at the last. Sizing Codelco, who was three and a quarter lengths behind Stuccodor, was an easy winner at Fairyhouse last Wednesday while The Winkler, who was over 14 lengths behind the selection at Leopardstown, won at Gowran on Thursday.
Triumph Hurdle entry Powder Hound will be a danger to the selection, especially with his four-year-old allowance meaning he gets a stone from the older horses but Weld's runner should do the job under yesterday's feature race winner mark Walsh.
Mozoltov has been very popular in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Chase and is trading at around the 5/2 mark now having been 10/1 earlier in the week.
He was deeply impressive in winning his beginners chase but this is a big step up into Grade One company and more importantly, it is the first time in his jumping career that he has gone left-handed.
From eight runs in total, he only once ran on a left-handed track in a bumper when he started odds-on but was beaten 12 lengths. We have no proof that he doesn't go this way around but at the same time it is hard the right-handed bias he has shown so far and coupled with the jump from maiden company to Grade One means it is difficult to see the value in his current price.
Contrast Mozoltov's form to that of Defy Logic, who is currently just a shade shorter at 9/4 and it doesn't take long to figure out where the value lies. Paul Nolan's charge has never finished out of the first two in eight starts.
He has won four and finished second to the likes of Annie Power, Sizing Gold in addition to Grade Two winners Mala Beach and Felix Yonger on his other four starts. He oozes class and his jumping was, in the main, electric when taking the Grade One Racing Post Chase here over the Christmas period.
He effectively forced the current Arkle favourite and dual Cheltenham Festival winner Champagne Fever into making a mistake that put paid to his chances on the day and as his speed and jumping were too much for a horse of that calibre, he easily gets the nap vote today.
Word at Leopardstown yesterday suggested that Tony Martin's bumper runner, Marinero, is an above average sort and he gets the each-way vote to give his trainer a hat-trick in the closing event - the Donohoe Marquees (Pro/Am) Flat Race.