Matt Brocklebank highlights a handful of horses to monitor on Tuesday including an expensive point-to-point recruit in the green and gold of JP McManus.
1. That’ll be the Day
Earth Day was purchased on behalf of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede on the back of a highly creditable third at Auteuil in September 2017 and he makes his eagerly-anticipated, and belated, debut for Willie Mullins in the Get A Run For Your Money With BetVictor Maiden Hurdle at Down Royal. The widespread good to yielding ground over the winter in Ireland has kept plenty of Mullins’ young horses on the sidelines this season but perhaps a little snow in the forecast will put a smile on the champion trainer's face. Last week's high-profile double at Gowran and three winners over the weekend suggests the tide is beginning to turn for Mullins and while Earth Day is likely to strip fitter for the run having been off so long, it looks significant he's out running ahead of the Cheltenham Festival novice hurdle entries being confirmed later this week.
2. Dufresne released to the public
It is to be presumed Earth Day didn’t come cheap, but it’s unlikely his price-tag can match that of Andy Dufresne, who debuts under Rules for Gordon Elliott and JP McManus in the closing Make Your Best Bet With BetVictor’s Betfinder INH Flat Race. McManus, not shy with the cheque book, went to £330,000 to secure the son of Doyen after he won his sole point-to-point outing when sent off favourite under Jamie Codd last March. Derek O’Connor now takes the ride and it almost goes without saying that the market will shed plenty of light on what we might be able to expect. Golden Spread, third in a Galway bumper back in August, is an obvious danger for the Mullins team.
3. Long journey for Rouge
Mister Fisher’s Haydock victory the other weekend didn’t seem to set the antepost lists ablaze but time will probably tell that he beat some more than useful horses. Nicky Henderson’s novice has his form tested to some extent at Newcastle with Rouge Vif – a clear second when attempting to give Mister Fisher 5lb at Kempton on Boxing Day – attempting to concede weight all round in the Corporate Funfairs Novices’ Hurdle. His 10-length defeat of subsequent winner Oakley prior to Kempton showed Rouge Vif to be a really smart animal himself and trainer Harry Whittington will obviously be hoping for a return to winning ways, especially considering the 4 hours, 50 minute trip from Whittington’s base in Oxfordshire to Gosforth Park.
4. No stopping red-hot Williams
Venetia Williams got back among the winners with a Ludlow double on Monday and her Destinee Royale looks one of the more interesting contenders on the six-race jumps card at Lingfield. The Balko mare made smooth headway from the rear to win narrowly on her racecourse introduction in a Towcester bumper last April and the third, Yellow Dockets, has come out to win both her hurdle starts this season for Nicky Henderson. Destinee Royale has undergone wind surgery since her debut but could hardly be resuming at a better time given the yard’s form and she helps give Williams a fair chance of a double on the card with Top And Drop looking to back up her Chepstow triumph in the handicap chase at 2.40.