Thomas Hobson – 13:10
Thomas Hobson jumped terribly in his first start at Listowel and ended up falling at the last. He jumped well at Galway, albeit not perfectly.
He’s been doing really well since. There’s a marked improvement in his schooling at home so hopefully he’ll transfer that to the track. Well, he’s going to have to to beat Tycoon Prince. Two fair horses and Henry de Bromhead’s Three Stars is decent too.
Arctic Fire – 13:40
He was second in the Champion Hurdle and ran really well without winning last year. Officially, on ratings, he has a good bit in hand. What he’s probably missing is fitness and match practice, compared to the others.
Arctic Fire is definitely fitter than he was when he ran in Down Royal last year when he came second to Little King Robin. He improved dramatically during last season and his work has been very good so far.
The only thing he doesn’t want is all this rain that’s falling, but there’s nothing we can do about that.
Let’s get today out of the way first and then see where we go next.
Twinlight – 14:50
He should handle the ground and won this race last year. He also won the Paddy Power Chase in Leopardstown in December and carries a Grade One penalty because of that. That will make it difficult for him. He seems to be in good form, but I just worry about him conceding that penalty.
Blair Perrone – 15:25
Kitten Rock is the one to beat. I won on Kitten Rock last year and he struck me than as an out and out chaser. The only time he was beaten was in the Champions Hurdle so there’s no disgrace in that. He strikes me as a horse who will definitely improve over fences. He’ll be hard to beat. In fairness to Blair Perrone, he won the maiden hurdle and the winners’ hurdle in Gowran. He’s a decent enough horse and hopefully he can give Kitten Rock a run for his money.
Coneygree – Sandown – 2:25
Last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner has found a nice opportunity to start off the season. It’s very hard to pitch horses straight into a Grade One race.
It’s like soccer players and their pre-season. They play plenty of friendly matches before they play in the Premier League.
Coneygree’s front running style means that every day is a hard day. I expect him to win, but it won’t be as easy as many think.