It was a good start to the four-day festival yesterday with Summerville Boy getting us off to the dream beginning in the Supreme before Coo Star Sivola held on from Shantou Flyer in the Ultima. Petit Mouchoir went off far too quick in the Arkle and sadly Faugheen just completely lacked any of his old zest and spark. Ruby mentioned after the race that he could go for the three mile race at Punchestown, it might be what the horse needs now but I don’t think anyone would blame connections if they retired him. Elgin ran well in fifth but just missed out on the money while there was a shock result in the Mares’ Hurdle as Apple’s Jade was turned over. I was disappointed with the run from Jer’s Girl in truth as I was expecting a top four finish at the very least. No Comment was given a very patient ride by Derek O’Connor in the National Hunt Chase but I’m not entirely sure he got home in the conditions. Rather Be put in a blinding run in the last but got chinned on the line by Mister Whitaker who I sadly didn’t have a bean on! Hopefully some more winners follow today…
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
Samcro has so far looked as though he will be a superstar for years to come, everything comes very naturally and he seems to do it all easily, surely he just wins today. In terms of looking for something at a more backable price I feel Vision Des Flos can run a big race for Colin Tizzard, he won a high class bumper at Punchestown in April before being purchased for a whopping £270,000 and was slightly disappointing for his new stable at first. However he had a wind operation before his latest start at Exeter and that seemed to work wonders as he ran out a resounding 31-length winner. That was on heavy ground so today’s conditions should be fine and he has plenty of potential.
The one I like in this race is Monalee, he was an excellent second in the Albert Bartlett last year so that’s valuable course form under his belt plus he’s won over 3 miles on heavy ground over hurdles so today’s conditions should prove no problem. He’s a really fluent jumper and has already won a Grade 1 over fences beating a couple of today’s rivals in the process, he steps up in trip from that win which will suit him even more and I know the trainer thinks a lot of him. I can only see him running well.
ADVICE – Monalee (7/2) 2pts Win
An extremely competitive race where I could make a case for a handful but I’m going to stick with two, the first being Le Breuil who’s been on my raidar for some time. We haven’t seen him much this season but by all accounts he’s raring to go for this and on his beatings of The Bay Oak and Benatar he’s an extremely well-handicapped animal. He was trying to give lumps of weight away on heavy ground to a rival way ahead of his mark at Aintree last time and I’m convinced if he runs his race he won’t be out the frame. As You Were is intriguing for Alan Fleming and is worth a chance at a big price given his good efforts under testing conditions this season. He was second to the talented Blow By Blow when 23-lengths clear of the third on his penultimate start before close up to Willie Mullins Ballyward last time. He appears as if he could be well-handicapped and is very lightly raced so there should be more to come from him.
ADVICE – Le Breuil (14/1) & As You Were (25/1) both 0.5pts Each Way
This will be one of the races of the week and I can’t wait to see Douvan back as he’s probably the only horse in training at present who has a chance of beating Altior. I could go on and on about how talented Douvan is but I’ll keep this short, his sole defeat over fences came in this race last year when he fractured his pelvis but even then he didn’t finish last. He has unfinished business and even though Altior looks extremely solid and is tough to oppose, I can’t ignore the price on Douvan who if he’s 100% after his long absence, can turn over the favourite.
Cross Country Chase
I think the ground may have gone against Elliott’s main pair of Cause Of Causes and Tiger Roll so I’m going to take a chance on The Last Samuri. He’s consistent in high quality races including when second in the Grand National in 2016 and not disgraced in the Cotswold Chase here last time. Highest rated in this field at 159 he comes out best at the weights, conditions will be of absolutely no issue, he jumps well and was reported to have thoroughly enjoyed going over these unique fences for the first time in a preparation for this contest by his trainer so I’m taking him to come out on top.
ADVICE – The Last Samuri (13/2) 1pt Win
Nube Negra has taken to hurdles really well for Dan Skelton but the horse I really want to have on my side is Act Of Valour. His trainer has done well in this race in the past and this particular horse seems to have been a plot for some time. He’s an accurate hurdler and the times of his Newcastle win and Musselburgh second behind a more than useful rival compared very well to other times on the respective cards. The ground would be a slight concern but he has coped well with soft previously and I envisage a big performance.
ADVICE – Act Of Valour (10/1) 1pt Each Way
I have really struggled to narrow down those prominent in the market and think they could all be very good horses, but because I can’t decide between those I want to take a chance on something at a price. Know The Score could be absolutely anything after he was bought for £380,000 following his Point to Point success and he hacked up at Towcester last month when hammering a subsequent winner. The trainer/jockey combination won the contest in 2015 with Moon Racer who had a similar profile and at a big price I think Know The Score is worth a go.