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)