We’ve teamed up with BetVictor and Charlie McCann to preview the day’s racing.
Warwick has passed an inspection and we have a cracking card to look forward to including the Hunter Chase debut of Teaforthree (3.50) who is currently 25/1 for the Grand National at Aintree in the spring. The horse finished third behind Aurora’s Encore in the 2013 National but was not at his best in the 2014 renewal when he unseated at the Chair.
I spoke to one of the owners at length before his run in last year’s Gold Cup as I was convinced that was the wrong prep run for the 11-year-old. He was beaten 20 lengths behind Lord Windermere and that was, in my opinion, his National race run. Connections will be keen to see what weight handicapper Phil Smith gives Rebecca Curtis’s horse when the National weights are announced on February 17 at the Royal Opera House London but he will surely be good enough to beat today’s field.
The big betting race of the day is the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park. Willie Mullins has saddled the winner twice in the last three years and he relies on top-weight Djakadam this afternoon. The six-year-old has not seen the track since finishing down the field in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury back in November when he didn’t appear to get home over an extended three-and-a-quarter miles. This drop back in trip will suit but this is a big ask for such a young horse and he is reluctantly overlooked.
Preference is for Jessica Harrington’s Sadler’sflaure (3.15) who ran such a promising trial when runner up at Punchestown back in December off a 3lb lower mark. He promises to stay 3m and the booking of Davy Russell is certainly a positive. He is 6/1 at BetVictor and can reward each way support.
The Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle looks a hot contest but preference is for Monksland (2.15) who receives 7lbs from the two Willie Mullins runners Briar Hill and Zaidpour. The selection is 16/1 for the World Hurdle at BetVictor and in a wide open year he looks to have every chance. Monksland was returning from a two-year absence when third in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown last month and he is entitled to improve for that experience. Still only an eight-year-old the Noel Meade trained gelding can enhance his Festival credentials.
Smashing (3.45) was no match for the exciting Un De Sceaux at Fairyhouse last month but had the third 30l away and is taken to give the weight (7lbs) to the mare Upsie who finished runner-up at Limerick last time having looked all over the winner for much of the contest. AP McCoy takes over in the saddle and she will win her share of races over the larger obstacles.
A fabulous flat card from Meydan and Genius Step (2.45) could still be ahead of the handicapper having scored over C&D back in November from a 6lbs lower mark. This six-year-old entire goes well for Richard Mullen and he can take this at the expense of Touch Gold who will be sharper for last week’s promising return after a nine-month absence.
In the 1m 1f turf race Steeler (4.30) can get his head back in front for Charlie Appleby and William Buick; the selection hasn’t won since the 2012 Royal Lodge Stakes but should have the race run to suit and must go close.
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