Champs to take revenge
Man On The Spot previews Saturday's feature action from Newbury and Leopardstown.
- Related Content
1315 Leopardstown Spring Juvenile Hurdle
Willie Mullins will be hoping for a winning start to a brilliant day's racing with either Blood Cotil or DIAKALI and preference is for the latter. Not surprisingly, most of these are in the Triumph Hurdle and the Mullins pair are at the head of the betting. The selection began his hurdling career with a facile success at Gowran before making all and slamming today's rival Flaxen Flare by 28 lengths at Punchestown. Blood Cotil has done everything right so far though his defeat of Stocktons Wings here on St Stephen's Day is only the same form as Our Conor's success over the runner-up at Fairyhouse. John Ferguson has a magnificent strike-rate and wouldn't be sending Finale Hurdle winner Ruacana from the UK without good reason though this is by far his stiffest test to date. The remainder have a bit to find in what should prove a very informative contest.
1415 Leopardstown Deloitte Novice Hurdle
Dual Champion Bumper winner CHAMPAGNE FEVER ran the exciting Jezki close in the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse in December but then ran no sort of race when a 1/4 chance for a Grade 2 at Naas. The latter event was over 2m4f and he ran so poorly that something must have been amiss and the safest option is to stick with the earlier form. Minsk took the selection on at Naas and the pair cut each other's throats, leaving the way open for Rule The World. He was behind Willie Mullins' charge in Jezki's race and may find this on the short side. Waaheb finished runner-up to Jezki in the Grade 1 Future Champions over the minimum trip here in December with Bright New Dawn and Wingtips not far behind. Any of that trio could be suited by today's extra quarter-mile but have a bit to find. John Ferguson sends the impressive Aintree maiden winner Buthelezi from the UK and he wouldn't be here if his shrewd handler didn't think he had a chance.
1425 Newbury: Betfair Denman Chase
SILVINIACO CONTI emerged as a genuine Gold Cup contender in the autumn and can shrug off an absence to keep his unbeaten record intact this season with victory here. Paul Nicholls' much-improved seven-year-old beat King George winner Long Run in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November with The Giant Bolster back in third and Weird Al fourth. On a line through Long Run, he has nothing to fear from Junior while Master Of The Hall is out of sorts and French import Mail De Bievre will need to be smart to figure after a lengthy absence. Stamina could be a problem for Little Josh, who fell heavily at Cheltenham, and Menorah though the latter won well over shorter at Kempton in December and is very talented.
1445 Leopardstown Dr. P.J. Moriarty Novice Chase
Cheltenham's Albert Bartlett runner-up BOSTON BOB started long odds-on for his chasing bow over a trip less than ideal at Naas in December but made very hard work of beating You Must Know Me, who has since been well beaten. Willie Mullins' charge is at the head of the market for the RSA Chase at the Festival and must prove his credentials here, which he is expected to do. He was conceding Lyreen Legend 10lb when beating him over hurdles here a year ago though the latter has done really well over fences despite falling at the third last when in touch here at Christmas. Texas Jack eventually finished third in that event before beating Lord Windermere narrowly over this track and trip and both are entitled to improve but Klepht and Star Neuville have a bit to find.
1500 Newbury Betfair Super Saturday Chase
Simonsig's defection has taken much of the gloss off this Grade 2 as stablemates Tanks For That and French Opera aren't in the same league as the grey, though the latter did win this two years ago. Stagecoach Pearl and Pigeon Island appear to have a bit to find at the weights while Majala steps out of novice company but has a first preference at Warwick today. Ruby Walsh has chosen the much-improved Shooters Wood ahead of EDGARDO SOL but that's allowed A P McCoy to pick up the ride on the Nicholls' versatile six-year-old, who hasn't done a lot wrong over fences or hurdles this season. If he can recapture the form he showed at Aintree last April, he could be the one to beat as Wishfull Thinking disappointed at Kempton over Christmas after winning a minor contest at Cheltenham.
1520 Leopardstown Hennessy Gold Cup
A small but very select field in which Flemenstar and SIR DES CHAMPS put their Cheltenham aspirations on the line with the latter getting the vote. The former, beaten by Bog Warrior on his chasing debut in 2011, won his next seven races including three at the highest level. He attempted today's trip for the first time over regulation fences in the Lexus over this track and trip and though travelling like the winner for most of the way was run out of it close home by Tidal Bay and First Lieutenant. The selection, whose jumping wasn't particularly inspiring, stayed on strongly to finish just a short-head behind in fourth and Willie Mullins will be expecting his other entry Quel Esprit to ensure a strong gallop. Bog Warrior has been nursed back to form over hurdles and is by no means out of this but Joncol will need to regain his very best form to get involved which appears unlikely.
1535 Newbury Betfair Hurdle
This is one of the most competitive handicaps of the NH season and always a good trial for Cheltenham. A few have come out of this and run well in the Champion Hurdle, though whether we have another Make A Stand in the line-up this year is questionable. Pearl Swan still has an entry in the big race, however, and should strip fitter for his run in a jumpers' bumper at Kempton. The stable won this last year with a similarly unexposed type. Cotton Mill may have given Simonsig a race at Cheltenham last year had he not crashed out at the second-last but this looks on the sharp side for John Ferguson's returning six-year-old while Cause Of Causes is 10lb higher than when beating Petit Robin and several of today's rivals in the Ladbroke at Ascot before Christmas, though has won at Navan since. Swing Bowler has been well backed ante-post and is so far unbeaten. She easily accounted for Ingleby Spirit on her reappearance at Musselburgh but connections are concerned that this may be too much too soon for the mare and David Pipe also saddles the potentially well-treated Ronaldo Des Mottes. MY TENT OR YOURS undoubtedly needs to improve again on what he's shown so far if he's to land this and is plenty short enough in the betting. But he's a leading fancy for next month's Supreme Novices' Hurdle and would probably have to go close in this if he was to justify a tall home reputation. Court Minstrel has been highly tried in novice company but far from disgraced and could be a threat from near the foot of the weights.
1610 Newbury Better Prices On Betfair Mobile Novices' Chase
On a line through Dynaste, there isn't a great deal to choose between Hadrian's Approach and Unioniste and the latter was was getting 5lb when beating Walkon in a Grade 3 handicap over a shorter trip at Cheltenham last time. OUR FATHER was outstayed by Highland Lodge at Cheltenham last time but had won easily on his debut over fences at that track and this easier course may be in his favour. It's too early to give up on him just yet and he gets the nod here. Same Difference finally came good at Leicester last month but has a lot more on his plate here while it's impossible to fancy Henry Hurst in this company.