Wicklow Brave was disappointing in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on Saturday. I don’t know whether it was the ground that beat him but he just seem to tie up between the last two flights when the others quickened.
Hopefully something will come to light to explain it as he traveled well in the race up to then. Identity Thief was a good winner though and showed real guts to get back up to deny Top Notch. He could have beaten him six lengths if he didn’t make that mistake at the last though.
There’s three Grade Ones on the Fairyhouse card on Sunday and they’ll take some getting as the going is now heavy. I’ve a fair book of rides though (below) and hope to visit the winner’s enclosure this time at least.
12.40 Grade 3 Juvenile Hurdle 2m
I’ve picked up a nice ride on MISSY TATA for Gordon Elliott. She caught my eye when winning at Down Royal and as Bryan Cooper is on Gigginstown’s Rocket Punch it’s a lovely spare ride to get. The Elliott yard is flying and he had a treble on Saturday so I’m hoping that run keeps going. In the first race at least ….
1.10 Grade One Royal Bond Novice Hurdle 2m
I could have gotten this wrong. It was a 50/50 decision and I’ve just gone for LONG DOG over Bachasson as he should handle the testing conditions.
There’s little between them and Bachasson is actually rated 3lbs above Long Dog. Whoever handles this stamina-sapping test best will come out on top. It was a close call and I just hope I’ve gotten it right.
1.40 Grade One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle 2m 4f
There’s wasn’t too much soul-searching in picking ARCTIC FIRE though. He looks to have plenty in hand on the ratings (19lbs) and the step up to 2m 4f will suit him. All the others need career-best runs – to match – and then beat him. Mouse Morris’s Alpha Des Obeaux could give him most to do while Taglietelle has some decent form but if the real Arctic Fire turns up he’s the one they all have to beat.
2.40 Grade One Drinmore Novice Steeplechase 2m 4f
Bryan Cooper had the choice between Outlander and No More Heroes and has chosen Gordon Elliott’s runner who was impressive at Punchestown in his beginner’s chase when beating Futuramic.
But Outlander has beaten No More Heroes before in a Grade 2 hurdle at Leopardstown that subsequently produced three winners (Martello Tower, Killutagh Vic and Windsor Park) at Cheltenham. While No More Heroes may not have been on his game that day, Outlander beat another of today’s opponents Free Expression in a beginners chase at Punchestown earlier in the month by a length and a half. So there’s not much between these two either.
Monksland had a bit of class about him over hurdles but is pulled out again pretty quickly after winning his beginners chase at Gowran Park last weekend over this trip. Shantou Flyer has run up a sequence of wins and while there’s no stamina doubts – he mightn’t have the speed that’s needed. The 4m Amatuer Chase at Cheltenham looks up his street next March.