1.10pm: 2m Maiden Hurdle
Nichols Canyon is a really nice horse who was highly rated on the flat with John Gosdon. He is schooling well at home and is in good form. Willie Mullins has had him in the yard for a while now and is very happy with him, so he should give a good account of himself. Like any other first timer he’ll improve for the run, but he looks good enough to get away with one or two errors on his first time over hurdles. Motown Bob ran well last time out coming third over course and distance, so his bit of experience would pose a danger but we’re expecting a good run from Nichols Canyon. He would be my best bet of the meeting.
1.40pm: 3m Novice Hurdle (Grade 3)
Ask Vic (3/1) did really well on her last run to win a handicap in Listowel but there is a lot of rain forecast for Cork and the worry is whether she’ll handle the soft ground. She is by Old Vic so that would imply she should hopefully go on it. She’s rated 128 so at the weights that would give her the best possible chance in the race and, although three miles is an unknown, we’re confident she can get it. Marchese Marconi (9/2), Martello Tower (15/8) and Thekingofconnemara (6/1) all have to be respected and Ask Vic is stepping up in class to a Grade 3, but hopefully she can pick up some black-type and go close.
2.45pm: 2m 4f Novice Chase (Grade 3)
Perfect Gentleman (11/4) drops back in trip to this 2m 4f after winning over 2m 7f at Tipperary and in fairness he will handle soft ground. The concern is that the shorter trip might prove a touch sharp. I rode The Crafty Butcher (7/1) when he came third over this course and distance a fortnight ago and he’ll have improved for that. He definitely has a big chance. Sadler’s Risk (15/8) is a failed hurdler, while Un Beau Matin (11/2) only looked OK on his winning debut at Punchestown.
3.20pm: 3m 4f Cork Grand National
Unoccupied (6/1) (above) came second in the Irish National last year off a 10lb lower mark and then won the Ulster National at Downpatrick before getting disqualified so he has an each-way chance here. Sword Fish (7/1) won this race last year and is just 3lb higher this time around, so we do need him considerably worse at the weights. The way he won the race last year on soft ground was impressive and he can go well fresh. He’s the one we all have to beat.
Naas: 1.25 2m Chase (Grade 3)
I won this race for Willie Mullins on Twinlight last year, and Felix Yonger goes there this time. He’s a good horse, and arguably better this time than he is later in the year, but at the weights he meets Moscow Mannon on considerably worse terms than he would do in a handicap and that might be difficult.