1.30 JLT Novices Chase
Yorkhill sets the standard here, I think he is the best horse in the race. He has his issues and while most people would worry about his jumping – to me that isn’t a big concern at all. His jumping won’t be an issue for m and the English fences are a lot softer than Irish fences meaning that if he does make a mistake around Cheltenham I’d be confident he’d get away with it. Going left handed will suit him as he has a tendency to jump left so that won’t be an issue. Top Notch is fancied to beat him, but if you put them both in a hurdles race then Yorkhill is streets ahead of him ability wise. Yorkhill can run poorly, his run at Aintree last April proves that but for him to still win that day proves he’s also hugely talented and I think on pure ability he will take a lot of beating here.
2.10 Pertemps Final H’cap H’dle
One horse who is probably coming in under the radar is Isleofhopendreams. He’s not getting any younger but he’s still coming in to this race with a good each way chance. He just got beaten at Christmas in Leopardstown in a qualifier for this race over 3m but I won on him last month in Punchestown, also over 3m and he won well so he will have every chance. At his current double figure price he could finish in the places in a very competitive handicap hurdle.
2.50 – Ryanair Chase
Un De Sceaux was beaten last year in the Champion Chase over 2m but over 2m 5f here I think he will prove to be the best horse in the race. The trip will be ideal as he has learned to settle a lot better in his races and his jumping has definitely improved. He won the re-arranged Clarence House at Cheltenham and following him home that day was Uxizandre who won this race in 2015.
Uxizandre was off the track for a long time before his run behind Un De Sceaux and I think the dreaded “bounce” factor could come in to play here. We saw it with Jezki in Gowran when he was beaten on his 2nd run back and it is a danger here too. Empire Of Dirt ran well in Leopardstown behind Sizing John in the Irish Gold Cup but in my eyes he needs to progress again to be a genuine Grade 1 contender.
Of the outsiders, I think Sub Lieutenant has some good form to his name and he won well at Down Royal early in the season and was also a runner up to Sizing John but that was in the Kinlough Brae at Thurles – a race where Sub Lieutenant went off favourite. He also ran well behind Djakadam in the John Durkan over 2m 5f and I think he could finish in the money behind the winner for me, Un De Sceaux.
3.30 – Stayers H’dle
It’s hard to get away from Unowhatimeanharry who, in my eyes, is the most solid favourite of the week out of the horses that are currently not odds on. He has a very similar running style to Big Bucks and he always just does enough without being overly flashy and he always seems to get the job done, I think he’s as solid as they come and I would be surprised if he doesn’t win and I can’t look past him.
4.10 – Mares Novice H’dle
Let’s Dance is the banker of the week here for me. She’s a 2nd season Novice and is in great form, I think she is clear of anything else in the race. She was 4th in the Triumph Hurdle here last year and she has really strengthened up this year. She has been very good all through the season and I just can’t see her beaten.
One that might finish 2nd to her is Airlie Beach who gave me a great day out when I won the Grade 1 Royal Bond on her at Fairyhouse. Airlie Beach is a high quality mare but on preparation, Let’s Dance has had a terrific prep and she’s arriving into this race in great shape. Perhaps in Punchestown if both lined up again then Airlie Beach may turn the tables but for now, Let’s Dance is extremely solid.
Stay tuned for Danny’s take on Friday for his look at the Gold Cup day action.
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