16:20 – Herald Champion Novice Hurdle
Getabird is a remarkably short favourite for this Grade 1 event given that he meets several horses who beat him at Cheltenham, and that effort in the Supreme revealed a hitherto-unseen flaw, in that he failed to cope with the hurly-burly of the occasion. Whether the atmosphere got to him, or he simply couldn’t handle competition for the lead I don’t know, but he was quickly in trouble after failing to settle at Cheltenham.
He got back on track with a facile win in calmer waters at Fairyhouse, but that win seems to prove that he’s a different animal when getting an easy lead, and he won’t have that luxury here.
16:55 – Killashee Handicap Hurdle
Finding winners is sometimes about identifying well-handicapped horses, but it’s often much more complicated than that, and experience counts for much more in certain situations.
This handicap hurdle is full of intriguing runners, none more so than Ten Ten, who is almost certain to show that a mark of 125 is very lenient in time, but whether he can show it in these conditions and in such a competitive field given his lack of experience is a huge concern.
A narrow defeat of Dis Donc at Down Royal in November looked fair form at the time but has improved its appearance in the meantime with Dis Donc building up a solid profile, and the pair meet today with the runner-up expected to concede weight.
The downside for backers of Ten Ten is that he’s been off since, has never raced in a field this competitive by a long way, is having just his third career start on ground quicker than he’s experienced before. He’s also bred to come into his own over further, and arguably over fences.
I predict that he will be much better than his mark in the fullness of time, but that the shock of today’s task will be too much.
17:30 – Boylesports Champion Chase
I can’t let this race go unmentioned, but I feel it’s a minefield for punters and layers alike.
Douvan will win if he shows the same dash at Cheltenham, and there is every chance that he will be even closer to his best given his preparation, but the cracks have been exposed with him to some degree; he is not a good jumper, in that he is mostly spectacular and has the scope to clear a fence that others couldn’t, but he has shown that he courts disaster when he gets one wrong, and he can never be a betting proposition as a result.
That said, there is little appeal in backing one short against him in the hope that he blunders his chance away, and I’m happy to leave the race and hope that Douvan gets round without mishap.
18:40 – Growise Champion Novice Chase
I’ve been a huge fan of Shattered Love all season, but have always maintained that I think soft ground is important to her, and I feel she may be vulnerable on the going given this will be her third festival of the spring as well.
I very much hope I’m proven wrong, but punting isn’t about hope, but about hard-headed logic, and this is the first time since Cheltenham last March that I haven’t wanted to be with the mare.
- 16:20 Lay Getabird @ 2.25 or shorter
- 16:55 Lay Ten Ten for a place @ 3.5 or shorter
- 18:40 Lay Shattered Love for a place @ 2.25 or shorter