The Dublin Racing Festival has snuck up on me this year but looking at the cards there is serious quality on show. It could be Cheltenham! The ground looks to be perfect at Leopardstown too, so, that won’t discourage any of the entries.
Gentlemansgame runs for Mouse Morris in the festival opener on Saturday. He won his maiden hurdle in Cork by 21 lengths last month and won his Point To Point by 5 lengths before that. He’s taking a step from a maiden hurdle to a Grade 1 novice and doesn’t have a lot of experience but he has been exceptional winning. A 10/1 he is a bit of value. I’d love to see Mouse Morris with another star on his hands like War Of Attrition in the past, he’s put so much into the game.
Ten To Follow Hurdlers
Saint Roi is one of my Ten To Follow horses, who will be lining up in the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle, with some stiff opposition in the shape of Honeysuckle. Having won the race last year Honeysuckle is deservedly the favourite though I wasn’t overly happy with her performance last time out at Fairyhouse. I thought she might have won a bit more easily than she did but it could just be down to Covid and maybe not getting as much work and travelling away from home as she normally would. I think she has to go and win this to go for the Champion Hurdle in Cheltenham.
I don’t have too much faith in Saint Roi now, I’ve been disappointed with him. He was six lengths behind Sharjah on his last outing and has to go up against him again on Saturday. I could see Sharjah giving Honeysuckle a run, he won last time out, he’s a course specialist etc. Though Honeysuckle’s 7lbs might make the difference late on.
My other Ten To Follow horse Appreciate It is in the Novice Hurdle on Sunday. He was so good on his last run at Leopardstown (also over 2 miles) I think he even surprised Willie Mullins, who must be thinking Supreme Novice for this horse. He’s not your average fast 2-miler, he has a lot of stamina and his jumping is smashing. I think this horse can be ridden close to the speed and he’ll stay, you wouldn’t have any fear of a horse coming out of the back of the pack and sneaking around to catch him.
Ballyadam didn’t really have any blot on his copybook until his last day out in Leopardstown when Appreciate It really put him in his place. Gordon Elliott did come out and say his horses were a little bit sick, so, there is that. Maybe there’s a bit of value there but he has a lot of ground to make up on Appreciate It all the same.
It’s Chacun Pour Soi against Min again in the Grade 1 Dublin Chase. I’m really looking forward to seeing Chacun Pour Soi. If he goes and wins this well he is a genuine favourite for Cheltenham. I’d just love to see him with a convincing win here and taking that form to Cheltenham. It’s also good to see Bryan Cooper with a good ride in Tornado Flyer in this one.
Irish Gold Cup
I’m not too sure that this Irish Gold Cup is going to produce this year’s winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Minella Indo is the market’s favourite but I just don’t like it when a horse, even a good horse, is returning to race on the back of a fall. It’s hard for them to go straight back into a Grade 1. I’d rather have seen him go an easier route.
I think the race will suit Kemboy but it is down to how he is ridden. The key to this horse is getting him relaxed and into a rhythm. Then his is very good. If that doesn’t happen, he is a hard ride. I think it is testament to just how good Ruby was that he made it look like a steering-job when he won on him. The horse takes a lot of work. If he gets his own way up front and jumps well, I don’t think the others will catch him but there are a lot of ifs in there.
Though he’s a previous winner and a very good horse, Delta Work has just never really caught my eye. I don’t think he’s an out and out “Gold Cup horse”. I know there are also plans to handle Melon a little differently in the race which may benefit him.
I’d probably put my few quid on the quirky Kemboy and just hope it all goes right for him.