Tag Archives: Fairyhouse

Irish Grand National Runner-by-Runner Guide

Tout Est Permis is a 6yo second season chaser who has hit form this season since moving to Noel Meade’s yard, winning all three starts. He began by winning a handicap chase off 128, was raised 10 pounds and won a grade 2 handicap chase off 138, was raised another 12 pounds and won a grade 2 by a short head from Sub Lieutenant, from whom he was in receipt of 3 pounds. That was over just 2m4.5f and he was staying on very well – the more impressive start in terms of stamina was his penultimate win over 3 miles, when he won by 5 lengths under hands and heels. He went up another 7 pounds for his last run to a mark of 157, a tough task for this race, but his improvement so far this season has been at a much greater rate than the handicapper could account for and he has clearly been kept fresh for this race, skipping the spring festivals to come straight here after his last run in January. Under the care of Mouse Morris he never tended to hit form in the spring (587 at the end of last season) but coming here fresh may be a plus – he won his first start over fences after a break of 248 days and won his first start for Meade after a break of 174 days.

3 from 3 and rapidly improving since switching yards; may still be ahead of the handicapper. Has been kept for this and has run well fresh in the past, although top weight a tough ask in this race.

Dounikos ran in the Grand National at Aintree just a few weeks ago and this has to be the first issue addressed – will that race have taken too much out of him? He was treading water and pulled up before two out looking like a tired horse. The fact that he won at Punchestown in February after running the majority of the Thyestes just 17 days earlier probably does give hope in this regard. A return to a right-handed track should be a plus, with his form going left-handed now reading 94P07P, and his win in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown would be some encouragement in terms of how he’ll deal with the big field (it was his first win in a field of 16 runners or more, P07F1P in such contests). This included a fairly disappointing run in this race last year when carrying 8 pounds less. He has also failed to fire at the end of the season in the past, winless from 6 starts from March to May (this bears stark contrast to 3 wins from 5 in October and November, albeit in easier races).

Pulled up in Grand National and hard to know if that will have taken too much out of him. Win in Grand National Trial at Punchestown enhances credentials but carries 8 pounds more than when pulled up in this last year.

Jury Duty also ran at Aintree, but this is probably less of a concern than it would be for Dounikos, as he unseated at the 20th fence and was running well at the time despite a mistake at the first. His form from earlier in the season is mixed, but an easy win over 3m2f at Down Royal as a prep race for Aintree and a good 3rd in the Galway Plate off 7 pounds less than his current mark are encouraging. He has been a fairly consistent horse throughout his career, placing on 17 of his 23 starts, with the 6 exceptions coming in the Grand National, two grade ones, a bumper, his first start over hurdles and the National Hunt Chase at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, when he unseated when struggling 3 out. The main concern here is his mark, which is now higher than it has ever been, but the fact that he was travelling so well at Aintree does give cause for optimism.

A consistent type, making the frame 17 times from 23 starts. Stamina not a concern and was travelling well when unseating at the 20th at Aintree.

The Leinster National may not have been the strongest grade one ever but a comfortable win in that race gives Pairofbrowneyes very solid credentials coming here. He didn’t run his race in the Paddy Power Chase or the Thyestes before that, although he was badly hampered in the former and never recovered. Replicating the Naas form would put him right into the mix here but his rating his 9 pounds higher today.

Leinster National win was impressive, form before that this season was poor. Raised 9 pounds for that run but a similar performance today would put him in the mix.

Total Recall’s win at the Dublin Racing Festival in 2018 made a mockery of his hurdle mark of 125 and supposedly put him into the picture for the Gold Cup and Aintree National in the months that follows (he went off 7/1 favourite for the latter). However, in both of these races he ran too keenly, pulling hard and failing to settle, and this looked to be his undoing. He failed to get involved in the Punchestown Gold Cup a few weeks later. His 6 length defeat at the hands of Al Boum Photo in Tramore on New Year’s Day doesn’t look like bad form now, and I suspect that the winner that day might turn out to have been an above average Gold Cup winner (Punchestown might tell us more in that regard, with the form not working out brilliantly so far at Aintree). However, he was then beaten 10 lengths by today’s top weight while giving him 6 pounds, and I think that it’s unfortunate for him that his official rating has only dropped by one pound since he was given a rating of 156 after winning the Ladbrokes Trophy in December 2017. He’ll have to settle well and jump well in order to have any say in today’s race.

Has had issues in terms of jumping and settling, well beaten twice this season but at the hands of subsequent Gold Cup winner and today’s top weight. Rating only dropped one pound since raised to 156 after Ladbrokes Trophy win in 2017.

It’s fair to say that we haven’t seen the best of Shattered Love this season, and she has had excuses on her last few starts. She was jarred up on unsuitably good ground in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown, and was found to have post-race ataxia (essentially a lack of coordination) after the Gold Cup. I had hoped that she might run a big race there, but the only doubts were over her stamina and if that was a concern then, it would have to be one again here over 2 and a half furlongs further. She also showed all of her best form on last season’s unusually soft ground and seems to have been inconvenienced by the dry weather throughout this season. Watering is currently taking place at Fairyhouse in an attempt to produce good to yielding ground for the race, but it seems unlikely that it will be anything like last year’s slog.

Not seen to best effect on good ground this season, would appreciate more of a cut than today. Undoubtedly talented but also question marks over stamina.

A Toi Phil actually ran quite well in the Pertemps at the festival and then finished out the National in 12th, but this has him back up to a rating of 151. He has won twice on good ground, but that was during his novice chasing season and, like Shattered Love, he seems to have a real preference for a softer surface (6 wins from 16 on soft or worse, 2 wins from 17 on anything better). He also hasn’t really shown his best form in big fields (1 win from 13 in fields of 8 or more, 7 wins from 20 in fields of 7 or less), so I’m happy enough to pass up on him considering his position towards the top of the weights.

Seemed to be finding old form when 4th at Cheltenham. 12th in the Aintree National and that might have taken a bit out of him. Would probably prefer a softer surface and best form is in smaller fields.

Acapella Bourgeois was running a fine race from the front in the Martin Pipe after a break of over 400 days but stumbled on landing at the second last. He may have been shuffled around a small bit when trying to get back into the race, but certainly lost his rhythm and preceded to be passed by the majority of the field. He went on to win easily at Clonmel next time from Yorkhill (it’s obviously difficult to know what to make of that form). He has been campaigned over around 2m4f this season but a grade 2 win on testing ground over 3 miles at Navan just over a year ago gives definite hope in terms of stamina (Road To Respect and Anibale Fly were among those behind him that day). He might prefer more of a cut in the ground (4 wins and 3 places from 9 starts on soft or worse) but his Clonmel win was on good ground and it had dried out a lot at Cheltenham by the time he put in his good performance in the Martin Pipe. His Fairyhouse form reads 313P and his form when back out within 5 weeks reads 21143411621 – 5 wins from 11 and a further 3 places, with unplaced efforts coming in a grade one novice hurdle, a beginners’ chase and the RSA Chase.

Hard to know what to make of Clonmel win but was running well in Martin Pipe on previous start when a mistake ended his race. Stamina not a concern and runs well after a short break – might be another who would prefer it softer.

Any Second Now was a fine winner of the Kim Muir under Derek O’Connor at Cheltenham, and the sheer amount of money for him before the race, along with his performance, suggested that a mark of 143 must have been lenient. That race must have been the plan for a while and as such it’s hard to know what to make of his form before that, and therefore hard to know whether raising him 7 pounds to 150 was enough – although one would think that it probably is. His staying ability it proven, although one question would be his jumping – it wasn’t an issue at Cheltenham, but prior to that he had made plenty of mistakes over fences this season. I suspect that he’ll sit towards the top of the market, and I’ll be inclined to look elsewhere.

Impressive Kim Muir winner off 143, handicapper may have him in his grasp now off 150. Stamina not a concern. Although jumping wasn’t a problem at Cheltenham, it has been in the past.

Monbeg Notorious never really got involved in the Aintree National, nor was he able to get involved in graded company on his previous starts this season. He did win the Thyestes and a grade 2 novices chase last year, but he’s more or less handicapped to that old form and hasn’t really been given any allowance for him poor performances so far this year. The good weather this season has probably worked to his disadvantage, but he won’t find it much softer today (4 wins from 9 starts with “heavy” in the going description, 2 wins from 8 starts on better, one of which was on yielding to soft). Off a mark of 150 and on fairly quick ground, I’ll be happy to leave him alone.

Hasn’t been suited by the good ground this season and is still handicapped based last season’s graded successes on softer ground.

Minella Rocco is a horse who is obviously well handicapped off 148 if he returns to his best form which saw him win a National Hunt Chase and finish 2nd in a Gold Cup behind Sizing John (and just ahead of subsequent Gold Cup winner Native River). He was running relatively well in the Aintree National before a bad mistake at the 20th fence brought his race to an end. He will like the quicker ground but you get the impression that the Aintree National had been the plan for some time and although the Irish handicapper has been kind to him, he’ll still have to find more than his recent performances – this season he was beaten by a total of 53 lengths in his first two starts and failed to complete in his next two.

Well handicapped on old form and wasn’t running badly in the Aintree National before a bad mistake, but that was the long-term aim and he would have to improve on recent form.

Snugsborough Benny hit some decent form last summer, winning a novices chase in Down Royal before finishing 3rd in a Galway Plate trial in Limerick and then winning the Blazers handicap chase at the Galway Festival. All of this form was on good ground, so we can safely conclude that, unlike some others, he won’t have any trouble with the relatively quick surface today. He put in a fairly poor display over hurdles on his seasonal return before unseating in the Paddy Power Chase over Christmas, and then won a 5-runner race in Fairyhouse with some good horses behind him. He was raised to 145 after that victory which puts him 17 pounds higher than his last handicap win, but it’s easy to see the case for him – he has a preference for good ground (5 from 10 on yielding or better, 1 from 10 on yielding to soft or worse), is a course winner and has some solid form in the book.

Should like the quick surface and beat some good horse over 2m 7½f here in February. Rated 17 pounds higher than when winning at the Galway Festival last summer, though, having gone up 9 for his last win.

Burrows Saint is only a novice but that hasn’t been an issue in this race in the past, and he won a grade 3 at Limerick with considerable ease last time out. That win would suggest that stamina shouldn’t be an issue, and he’s the type who seems to be quickly improving over fences. He was raised 7 pounds for his last win but he might be progressing quickly enough to defy that. He actually managed to place in grade one company at this time last year after disappointing in the Martin Pipe, so if he sees similar improvement over fences, he could be in the mix here.

Improving from start to start over fences and might still be ahead of the handicapper, who has raised him 7 pounds for his last win in a 3 mile grade 3 at Limerick.

General Principle won this last year, although he did carry 8 pounds less that day. There are a few strong trends in his form. The first is right-handed tracks – his form going right-handed reads 1622F21154153, including finishing 5th in this race in 2017 and in the Thyestes last January. The second is soft ground. He certainly benefitted from the difficult conditions underfoot in this race last year – his form on soft or worse going right-handed reads 12F211415. You could argue that he ran a fine race in this race the year before last on ground that will closer resemble today’s, and did so carrying just 3 pounds less than he will today. However, in both of the last two years he came into this race having skipped both Cheltenham and Aintree, whereas this year he ran in the Ultima (on ground that should have suited but his jumping was very poor) and the Grand National (where he fell at the 19th fence). At a price he would be interesting, but due to the fact that he won the race last year he’s short enough in the betting and I’m happy to leave him alone.

5th in this two years ago carrying 3 pounds less, won it last year carrying 8 pounds less. Right-handed form is solid but he would prefer a cut in the ground, and may not be overly fresh having run at both Cheltenham and Aintree.

Auvergnat was pulled up in the cross-country at Cheltenham but that was off a tough mark of 158 and he’s back off a more workable 143 here. That’s still a good bit higher than when he won the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas (131) but he did win that race by 7 lengths, and behind him were the likes of Any Second Now, Dounikos, General Principle, Snugsborough Benny and Pairofbrowneyes, all higher in the weights today. He finished off last season well, winning the La Touche Cup, and his form in April and May reads 4113. However, that win last season was after a very creditable effort to finish 4th in the cross-country at the festival off 152, and his performance this year, albeit off 6 pounds higher, was far from encouraging. One theory to explain this could be the ground; he has 4 wins and 4 places from 15 starts on yielding to soft or worse, and just 1 win and 2 places from 12 starts on yielding or better. This could work to his disadvantage today, but the Paddy Power win at Christmas was on good. He’s a difficult puzzle to crack and a hard horse to discount.

Pulled up in the cross-country at the festival last time out, Paddy Power win (beating plenty of these who are now rated higher) is encouraging and confirms that he can be seen to his best on this ground, but it was off a mark 12 pounds below this.

Isleofhopendreams was an excruciatingly close second in this race last year, carrying just 3 pounds less than he will today. He came into that race in similar form (he was 2nd in the Punchestown Grand National Trial last year to Folsom Blue and was 2nd in the Leinster National this year to Pairofbrowneyes, carrying 6 pounds less than him and will carry 12 pounds less than him today). All of his wins have come in big fields and at right-handed tracks, but, like plenty of these, he would rather if there was more of a cut in the ground than there will be today – he has finished outside of the places on all five starts with “good” in the going description (85P0P), and all of his wins have come on soft ground or worse. If the rain came, it would be easy to see his claims here, but he looks like he’s ground dependent in that sense. His one good performance this season came in the Leinster National (pulled up in both of his other two starts) and it was on yielding to soft ground.

Carries just 3 pounds more than when going close in this last year, good prep finishing 2nd to Pairofbrowneyes in the Leinster National and is 6 pounds better off with him today, but form on ground with “good” in the description is 85P0P and all wins have come on soft or worse.

Blow By Blow’s chasing career got off to the perfect start with a win in Galway and he then came within a neck of winning a (possibly below-standard) grade 2 at Punchestown. However, it has been downhill from there, finishing 7th in the Drinmore, 18 lengths back in 3rd at Christmas, pulled up in January, 6th of 6 in February, pulled up in the Leinster National and pulled up at Aintree after a wind op. He was struggling early on at Aintree and was pulled up around the 19th fence, never really looking like doing much. A return to a right-handed track can be seen as a plus (21132147127 compared to 11613P6PP) but in the past his season has teetered off in April (last year he won in Thurles in February and then won the Martin Pipe before failing to make the frame at either Fairyhouse or Punchestown) and it’s possible that he needs a rest and could come back a better, fresher horse next season (111311 after over 30 days off).

A promising novice chaser at the start of the season but he hasn’t shown much promise in his last few starts and will need to find plenty of improvement here.

Valseur Lido ran creditably in the Grand National off a mark 5 pounds higher than today’s. He has a decent record at Fairyhouse from earlier in his career (1163) and in April (1261280). 6 of his 7 career wins have come at right-handed tracks, but all 7 were in relatively small fields, with form of 080000 in big fields. In truth, he would need to improve a lot on his current form to be in the mix here.

Creditable 10th in the Grand National but would need to improve significantly and has never been successful in big fields.

Woods Well had seemed out of his depth in grade 2 company all season before winning a grade 2 handicap chase over 2m 5½f at Leopardstown in March, and then defied a 6 pound rise to finish a creditable 5th in the Topham Chase. He might have been 17 lengths behind that day but he was hampered and ran on late, looking like a horse that would benefit from a step up in trip. That was a bit of a surprise as he hasn’t shown great form over further in the past, failing to win on all 13 starts over 3 miles or further and only placing once. He has been unplaced on all 10 starts in fields of 16 or more, although the creditable performance in the Topham may put those concerns to rest to an extent. He has also been unplaced on all 5 previous starts in April, and although the track should suit, he seems to have a specific set of ideal conditions which aren’t present today.

Finished a creditable 5th in the Topham and looked like he would appreciate the step up although unsuccessful in the past over further. Poor record in big fields and at this time of year.

C’est Jersey has yet to win over fences for Willie Mullins and has been given a mark of 140, something similar to what he has achieved over hurdles thus far. He was well beaten in last year’s Coral Cup at Cheltenham but did show himself to better effect in big handicap hurdles at Fairyhouse (5th) and Punchestown (2nd). This season has been a bit quieter – he was 3rd of 7 in a maiden chase on New Year’s Eve, finishing 3 lengths behind Ballyward (they were on level weights and Ballyward is now rated 150, although the winner that day only managed 7th in the Close Brothers). C’est Jersey then went to Gowran and finished 3rd of 17 in a maiden chase which is working out quite well – the winner was subsequent Arkle winner Duc De Genievres, the runner-up was Tower Bridge who came 2nd in the Close Brothers, and back in 4th was Burrows Saint who has won both starts since, including a grade 3 and comes into this race off a mark of 144. All thing considered, you could argue that he runs here off a nice weight. He has only won twice in his career since moving to Mullins’ yard, but he has hit form in April in both of the last two seasons, and his form at right-handed tracks (3125233) is better than left-handed (210P0).

Maiden over fences but arguably runs off a nice mark considering the form of his Gowran 3rd. Has hit form in April in both of the last two years and course form is 3rd of 15, 2nd of 8, 5th of 20.

Out Sam finished 4th in the Thyestes, 18 lengths behind the winner, and was left on the same mark next time out Downpatrick when pulled up.  His jumping would be my primary concern – he has made mistakes on the majority of his starts this year and he also has a tendency to go out to the left a bit. He’s another who would prefer a cut in the ground – 4 of his 5 wins came on soft or worse, with just 1 from 12 on good to soft or better. He has been left on 140 which is a fair mark but the ground and jumping would be concerns for me today.

4th in Thyestes last January off this same mark but disappointing last time out and jumping may be a concern. Would probably prefer a cut in the ground.

Gun Digger wasn’t running a bad race in the four miler at the Cheltenham festival, although it’s hard to know from that early stage whether he would have had any impact. He was a long way down the field in a seven-runner grade 3 before that, a disappointing performance after a very nice maiden chase win over Christmas, beating horses in 2nd and 3rd which are now rated higher than him. He hasn’t actually won over any further than 2m 5f, but the fact that Elliott entered him in the National Hunt Chase suggests that stamina isn’t a concern. As a novice he would be interesting but there are others in field who have shown better form.

Fell when going well in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham but it was too early to know how he would have fared. Maiden chase win over Christmas is good form but he would have to improve from that.

Whisperinthebreeze won at the Dublin Racing Festival and was given a mark of 146 by the British handicapper as a result. This was a bit harsh, as it excluded him from running in his preferred Cheltenham targets and the only option left for him was the National Hunt Chase. He fell there and while that was the first fall of his career, there have been plenty of other jumping errors which might be accentuated in this energy-sapping test in a big field. We also don’t know just how well he’ll stay, as he was arguably outstayed on his only start over more than 3 miles (albeit carrying over a stone more than the winner). His mark now looks fair and he shouldn’t be written off. He’s also one of the horses in the field which won’t mind the good ground, with form this season of 25221 on good before falling on testing ground at Cheltenham.

Fell in the National Hunt Chase and there have been a few jumping errors since he went chasing; not sure how well he’ll stay but good ground isn’t a concern.

Roaring Bull was 6th in the Close Brothers, 29 lengths behind the winner. This is probably not a fair method to assess any of the other finishers in the Close Brothers as it seems that the winner was a graded type hiding in handicap company, and Roaring Bull was 16 lengths behind Tower Bridge in 2nd. He didn’t show anything spectacular at Limerick last time, beaten by just over 4 lengths by Burrows Saint (Roaring Bull is 6 pounds better off in the weights today) but he did show some promise off a much lower mark earlier on this season. The main positives would be his course form (2nd and 1st in maiden chases over 2m and 2m5f in December and January) and the ground (11621413 with good in the going description, 133F6F6 on worse).

Looks to be around the right mark here, did show some promise off a lower mark earlier this season. Will like the faster ground and finished 2nd at 1st here over shorter trips over the winter.

Forever Gold is 12 years old but runs here off his highest mark to date, having shown himself in a positive light a number of times in graded company over the last few years. It’s possible that he could do the same this season, but his form coming into April in 2017 was 021, and last year it was F2UP before finishing 3rd in this race (both years he had won or placed in graded company). This year, his form reads 0007 and his 14th of 20 at Navan was the only time that he finished within 40 lengths of the winner (he was 17 lengths back that day). He is a Fairyhouse specialist, having run here 14 times and placing on 6 of those occasions, but he was in better form coming into the race last year and still carried 10 pounds less, so he’s not a betting prospect this time around.

Has been there or thereabouts in graded company on occasion, but form this year is 0007. 3rd in this race last year but had shown better form than this season and carried 10lb less.

Bellow Mome was 3rd in the Leinster National, 10 lengths behind Pairofbrowneyes and about 5 lengths behind Isleofhopendreams. He was in receipt of weight from both and although he’ll be in receipt of a bit more weight today, they did have him well held. That Leinster National form was his best yet – he didn’t make an impact in any of five graded contests since his maiden chase win, and unseated on the one occasion that he ran at a lower level. He was just about leading around the second last when he unseated Ruby Walsh, and that’s an interesting performance considering the fact that it came at a right-handed track – his form going right-handed reads 1181U0, with the 8th in a big handicap hurdle at Sandown and the 10th in the Thyestes. His form going left-handed reads 48463. If it could be argued that he’ll improve from the Leinster National due to a return to a right-handed track, then he could run a decent race here.

Leinster National 3rd was an improvement and he has only been raised 1 pound for it. The rest of his best form is on right-handed tracks so if that does bring about improvement he could run a good race.

Kimberlite Candy comes over from England and his form going right-handed reads 1133, compared to 1P553P41195 going left-handed. He was last seen finishing 5th in the Eider at Newcastle, and his win over 3 miles at Ayr last November suggested that he’ll relish the long trip here today. The ground might be a concern (he has 2 wins from 3 on heavy ground) but he has won once on good to soft, along with the Eider 5th. He seems to enjoy large fields, with his disappointing starts generally coming in smaller contests (just one win and no places from 6 starts in fields of 7 or less, 4 wins and a place from 8 in fields of 8 or more, with form of 11P1P1935). His form in fields of 8 or more at right-handed tracks is 113 at starting prices of 12/1, 13/2 and 20/1. It’s difficult to weigh up his form against the Irish contenders, but he doesn’t look completely without a chance.

Right-handed track and big field will suit, and stamina shouldn’t be an issue. Last seen finishing 5th in the Eider off 3 pounds higher.

Measureofmydreams was well fancied when 8th in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham under Jamie Codd. Now 11 years old, he’s just the type of horse that Gordon Elliott can often squeeze some improvement out of when there doesn’t seem to be any left – however, the major concern with him is his jumping, and this was an issue at Cheltenham, where he threw himself at a few fences. It would have to improve significantly today in order for him to be in contention.

Well-backed 8th in the Kim Muir but jumping probably let him down. Wouldn’t be unlike Elliott to get some improvement out of him but jumping is a concern.

Shady Operator was 7th in the Close Brothers last time out and although hampered at the fourth last, he didn’t look like he was going to make much of an impact at the time (there was one mistake that caused him to lose his place slightly). Stamina shouldn’t be a concern here as he stayed on well to win over 3m 1f at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve. Going right-handed does seem to be a plus (121221 compared to 347 going left-handed) but none of those right-handed runs were at this sort of level.

Looks like a proper stayer and right-handed form is 121221, but this is a big step up.

Arkwrisht fell in the Kim Muir and unseated in the Punchestown Grand National Trial, so jumping looks to be a concern from the offset. Before that, he finished a long way back in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown and was pulled up in the Troytown. In other words, he has a lot to find on recent form. The one piece of encouragement that you can find in his form would be a close second in the Kerry National in September 2017, although that was on heavy ground which seems to be a preference, and it was the only time that he managed to make the frame from 13 starts in fields of 12 or more runners. He has also only made the frame once from 13 starts after a break of over 30 days and has been unplaced on all 5 starts in March and April.

Has a lot to find on recent form. Jumping is a concern. Kerry National win in 2017 would give hope but he’s rated higher now. Would probably prefer more testing ground, a smaller field and a more recent run.

Selections:

Yesterday the main bet was advised, which was 1pt e/w on Auvergnat at 33/1. 22/1 is the best price available at the time of writing so we can be happy enough with the price that we got.

There has been a massive drift on top weight Tout Est Permis this morning, and he’s now widely available at 20/1, with William Hill going 22/1, and bigger prices on the exchanges. I realise that top weight is a tough ask but I just suspect that his progressive profile suggests that he’s a step ahead of the handicapper, and I think he’s worth a small interest at that price.

Acapella Bourgeois is going relatively unnoticed in the market and I’ve seen a few people writing him off on the basis that he won’t like the ground. However, his win over Yorkhill last time out was on good ground and I think that 33/1 looks like a nice price.

Finally, C’Est Jersey’s weight could be lenient and he has hit form at the time of the year in the past, so it would be no surprise to see him back in the picture today. 20/1 looks more than fair.

Tout Est Permis 1pt win 22/1 (William Hill)
Acapella Bourgeois 0.5pt e/w 33/1 (888Sport, Sportingbet)
C’Est Jersey 0.5pt e/w 20/1 (general)
Already advised: Auvergnat 1pt e/w 33/1 (4 places, 1/4 odds)

Other points to note today:

3:15 – Champayne Lady has form of 1213 at right-handed tracks but generally prefers smaller fields. It’ll be interesting to watch today to see if she runs well again going right-handed.

4:20 – Crosshue Boy was our bet in the Scottish National and we never got a run for our money as he fell relatively early on. He’s running today over a trip which is far from his optimum, but it is his time of year and he has had a recent run. It’s a competitive race and I suspect that the plan is just to pick up some prize money on the way to another target. If he turns up at Punchestown, he will have had a recent run under his belt and would be an interesting betting opportunity. I’ll be watching closely today.

Fairyhouse Easter Sunday Preview & Selections

It was a profitable day yesterday with an 8/1 place and a 7/2 win. Today we have high quality racing at Fairyhouse for the beginning of their Irish Grand National meeting:

2:50 Fairyhouse – It’s no surprise to see that Honeysuckle is very popular in the betting here, as she had leading claims in the Mares Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival before being forced to miss it through injury, and one would imagine that this has been the plan ever since it became clear that she wouldn’t make Cheltenham. She does have to face horses that she would have faced at Cheltenham – most notably Eglantine Du Seuil, who won the race under Noel Fehily, and Tintangle in 3rd. I thought that Tintangle was probably the one to take from that race. She travelled very well throughout but got checked around the last and had to switch right. She possibly lacked the tactical speed when it became time to quicken but she stayed on very well to take 3rd and looked like the extra few furlongs would suit. Another beaten Cheltenham horse that I wanted to keep an eye on was Salsaretta in the Albert Bartlett, who was held up at the back of the field but didn’t settle well off a very slow pace. She came through the field well but she wasn’t able to mount a challenge having run keenly early on. She looked like she’d just need a more strongly run race, so the drop back in trip would suit.

Now, the only reason that I’ll want to take on Honeysuckle and Eglantine Du Seuil is price (although you could argue that the latter is overpriced, as is often the case with a horse that pulled off a major shock last time out. She hadn’t run in 6 months before Cheltenham so it would be no surprise to see her improve here). At 13/2 and 12/1 respectively, I think that both Salsaretta and Tintangle are reasonably priced, and I’ll split my stakes between the two.
Salsaretta 0.5pt win 13/2 (Bet365, Skybet, BetVictor, Unibet, Coral)
Tintangle 0.5pt win 12/1 (general)

4:25 Fairyhouse – Mengli Khan, generally considered an unpredictable, up-and-down type, headed the ante post betting at 15/8 but has been joined at the top of the market by Real Steel and Voix Du Reve. Early in his hurdling career it was often said that he would be a better horse on better ground, but whether this was the case is debatable, with one of his best runs coming in last year’s Supreme Novices on a very testing surface. He has now been seen to good effect twice at Cheltenham and has also won both of his two starts at Navan, which might suggest that he is more suited to a stiffer test than Aintree would have offered him last time out. Fairyhouse’s finish is uphill, but it’s not comparable to the type of challenge that a horse encounters at Cheltenham or Navan, and one would wonder whether Mengli Khan would have been better suited to the undulations of Punchestown. He’s a horse that I’m looking forward to seeing in future on a more testing track, maybe in more testing conditions and possibly even stepping up in trip to 3 miles, but I’m not quite convinced that today’s conditions are ideal.

Winter Escape looked like an exciting prospect when taking to fences until disappointing at the Dublin Racing Festival, finishing 6 lengths behind La Bague Au Roi. The form from that race hasn’t worked out brilliantly, with La Bague Au Roi and Hardline both failing to fire next time out, and so we would have to forgive Winter Escape that run in order to side with him today. The fact that he’s back going right-handed (form of 132111 compared to 110505 going left-handed) would seem like the main reason to do so.

The most likely scenario is that Voix Du Reve will jump off in front and try to make it a case of “catch me if you can”. While this did work for him a few times earlier in the season, including in grade 2 company, his jumping has been an issue at least to some extent on every appearance to date and siding with him here might be a bit of a leap of faith. That said, the small field should play to his tactics and this has been the case in the past – his form in fields of 7 or less reads 21113F, compared to just 1 win from 11 starts in fields of 8 or more.

Cubomania also has a good record in small fields (2113141 in fields of 7 or less) but these have generally been in much less competitive contests than this one (3rd of 5 in a grade 3 and 4th of 6 in a grade 2, but the highest level at which he has won was listed). On bare form, he should find some of his competitors today to be too good (although he did beat two graded winners last time out in a listed contest at Thurles).

Real Steel didn’t appear to be up to the required standard in the JLT (and therefore in theory has 9 lengths to find with Mengli Khan) but the form from that race is working out quite well, with Lostintranslation beating Topofthegame next time out and Kildisart also winning on his next appearance. All 3 of his career wins have come at right-handed tracks, with form of 1P411 compared to F50F6 going left-handed, and this could be the key to his form. Notably, one of these wins came at Fairyhouse, making him one of only two course winners in the field (along with Mengli Khan).

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time looking at this race and am essentially going around in circles – there are now 4 horses practically together at the top of the market and I think that the market has it more or less right. In the past, you could narrow this race down by trying to avoid those horses which had been to Cheltenham, but this isn’t really the case anymore, with a Cheltenham winner having won the race last year and considering the fact that the race falls so far away from Cheltenham this year. I’m going to leave this alone – it should be a great race to watch regardless.

Others to watch today – in the 3:25 at Plumpton, Legal History is back out for David Pipe and Tom Scudamore. He’s not a betting prospect for me but he’ll just be interesting to watch as he looked excellent when winning at Ascot and Exeter the last twice. He’s up to 126 now and it will be interesting to see whether he can continue to defy the handicapper and turn out to be a really good horse.

Irish Grand National – this evening, I’ll be posting a full runner-by-runner guide to the Irish Grand National along with my bets. The way that I approach this race is by looking at each runner, drawing up a tissue (not the easiest task with 30 runners!) and comparing. The theory is of course that we’re not necessarily looking for the most likely winner, but for what we perceive to be the most value. While it’s likely that there will be more bets in the race tomorrow, the biggest gap between my own prices and the available odds was Auvergnat, who can still be backed at 33/1 with Coral and Sportingbet (both of whom only pay 4 places but will still offer ¼ odds unlike the bookmakers paying extra places). I’m going to have 1 point each-way.
Auvergnat 1pt e/w 33/1 (Coral, Sportingbet, ¼ odds 4 places)

Ryanair Gold Cup

It’s sometimes difficult to analyse a race at Fairyhouse based on previous renewals, as the make-up of the race can be quite different each year due to the fact that the date of the meeting varies a lot in comparison to other big meetings in the spring. The proximity of Fairyhouse’s Easter meeting to Cheltenham varies each year, and it can fall on either side of Aintree’s Grand National meeting. However, it tends to attract a few high-class Irish novice chasers, a couple of which have come from Cheltenham.

Cheltenham Last Time Out

This brings us to the first point – most years, horses run here having had their last run at the Cheltenham festival. Overall, their record has been fairly poor.

Year Horse Days Since Cheltenham Run Odds Finishing Position
2009 Golden Silver 33 days 11/2 7th
2010 Nicanor 17 days 16/1 Pulled up
2011 Noble Prince 38 days 13/8 Fell
Mikael Dhaguenet 39 days 3/1 4th
Loosen My Load 38 days 4/1 2nd
Realt Dubh 40 days 9/2 1st
2012 White Star Line 26 days 16/1 6th
Call The Police 25 days 6/1 4th
2014 Ballycasey 39 days 11/8 Fell
2015 Apache Stronghold 24 days 5/1 Fell
Valseur Lido 24 days 4/1 6th
Smashing 26 days 25/1 3rd
2016 Mckinley 12 days 14/1 4th
Outlander 10 days evens 2nd
2017 Baily Cloud 31 days 66/1 4th
Road To Respect 31 days 7/2 1st
Some Plan 33 days 20/1 6th
Yorkhill 31 days 4/7 2nd

 

According to Betfair SP, this table should include 3.4 winners and 7.2 total places. It actually contains 2 wins and 6 total places, so there’s just a small underperformance.

Last year, the success did come from Cheltenham runners. However, it had been over a month since the festival. If we narrow this down to years in which the race came within 30 days of the Cheltenham start, the table is shorter and shows less success:

Year Horse Days Since Cheltenham Run Odds Finishing Position
2010 Nicanor 17 days 16/1 Pulled up
2012 White Star Line 26 days 16/1 6th
Call The Police 25 days 6/1 4th
2015 Apache Stronghold 24 days 5/1 Fell
Valseur Lido 24 days 4/1 6th
Smashing 26 days 25/1 3rd
2016 Mckinley 12 days 14/1 4th
Outlander 10 days evens 2nd

 

If we look at these horses alone, they underperformed, but only marginally – the market would have expected 1 winner and there were none, while according the Betfair SP there should have been 3 places (there were 2).

Willie Mullins

Mullins has traditionally been the man to follow in Irish National Hunt racing at the end of the season, but this race has been an exception. In the last 10 years he has had 18 runners, with no winners and 5 places (this record doesn’t get any better if you go back further, with no winners and just 5 places from 26 runners this century).

In those last 10 races, he has failed to train a winner despite his runners accounting for 27% of the total field. On that basis, they’ve underperformed just marginally in terms of making the frame, filling 24% of the total places from 27% of the total field.

However, if we look at the horses behind these numbers we see that this underperformance is more significant than it may seem at first. Mullins trained the favourites in 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 at 4/7, evens, 5/4 and 11/8 respectively. They finished 2nd, 2nd, 4th and fell. Whilst it seems clear that Mullins horses underperform, it’s possible that they’re also overestimated by the market – the market certainly doesn’t seem to factor in this poor record. Based on Betfair starting prices, Mullins would have been expected to train 3.7 of the last 10 winners (actual number is 0) and 8.3 horses to make the frame (actual number 5).

2018 Renewal

Footpad was due to represent Willie Mullins here, and may have been a favourite worth taking on with these two angles in mind. However, it is interesting to see that the majority of the field are either trained by Mullins (only he and Elliott are represented in the race) or ran at Cheltenham:

  1. Al Boum Photo – Willie Mullins, ran at Cheltenham
  2. Invitation Only – Willie Mullins, ran at Cheltenham
  3. Montalbano – Willie Mullins
  4. Saturnas – Willie Mullins
  5. The Storyteller – ran at Cheltenham
  6. Tombstone
  7. Tycoon Prince – ran at Cheltenham
  8. Up For Review – Willie Mullins
  9. Shattered Love – ran at Cheltenham

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