Marsh Novices’ Chase
Although he is 12 years old FAUGHEEN (5/1 generally) has enthusiastically embraced a belated chasing career that has seen him win all three of his starts over fences, including two Grade 1 wins. A win here would see the roof of the stand be in danger of coming off, such would be the reception he’d receive. And I think it is an entirely likely proposition.
His latest win from Easy Game showed he has retained both a fair measure of his ability but also his attitude remains good. He possesses plenty stamina and will be tough to hold off up that hill if he can stay with them until that point. There is the chance that one of his younger, improving rivals, may have too much zip for him but I think he rates a bet at the odds, a horse with his novice chase profile would normally start shorter and it is doubts about his age rather than performance doubts that have lengthened the price.
Mister Fisher may prove the biggest danger.
A PLUS TARD (7/4 generally) has been all the rage for this among the Irish since his brilliant win from Chacun Du Soir at Leopardstown over Christmas. He won at this meeting last year, the stable are in great form and he ticks almost all the boxes.
Last year’s winner Frodon is a possible fly in the ointment if given his own way up front. Bryony Frost’s riding style is ideally suited to this horse and I’d be worried if he’s allowed to bowl along in front and then kick off the turn, in which case catching him may be difficult. But A Plus Tard is arguably better at this stage than the opposition Frodon beat last year and I think teh De Bromhead horse will win.
Discussion around this should focus on PAISLEY PARK (4/6 Unibet, Bet365) whose unbeaten streak continues unabated. He looked a little ring-rusty last time and took a bit of time to get into top gear but once he did he quickly settled matters. This test suits him ideally and I think he will be very difficult to beat.
If there was to be a shock then City Island, who won the Ballymore so convincingly last season but whose chasing career was curtailed, could be the one to provide it. Back to hurdling and on the back of a wind operation he might have something to offer. Bacardys, very capable on his day and a thorough stayer, is one to consider in the each way market, also at a big price.
Other races –
Brown Advisory Stable Plate – BLAZER (16/1 generally) shaped with a deal of promise when 4th after a long lay-off at Leopardstown. He could be the one to serve it up to favourite Simply The Betts, an exciting novice whose latest form was franked earlier in teh week.
Mares’ Novice Hurdle – Plenty with possibilities but last year’s runner-up CONCERTISTA (6/1 Betfair, Paddy Power) looks reasonably priced given that this has likely been her main target all year. Floressa could give her most to do while Minella Melody is another who is highly respected.
Kim Muir H’Cap Chase – A top rider is a definite asset in a race of this nature and Barry O’Neill fits the bill on PLAN OF ATTACK (10/1 Coral, Ladbrokes, William Hill). De Bromhead’s string are in enviable form and his third in the Paddy Power Chase last time was a grand effort. That came on the back of a series of progressive efforts including a win at Aintree in October. He could have plenty more in the locker and has teh right trainer/jockey combination to deliver that potential here.
Pertemps Network H’Cap Hurdle – If you are a puzzle fan then this is for you. The ideal scenario is to come into this race under the radar and the qualifying series encourages just that. Sire Du Berlais, last year’s winner, runs off a 7lb higher mark this time around and has to give weight all round. That may not stop him though as he won with a bit of authority last year having met trouble in running. But while he looks sure to run well he may find that rise in his handicap mark just allows one or two to get past him and top of my list is WELSH SAINT (7/1 BetVictor, Boylesport), who is from a top yard, is on the improve and is up only 4lbs for his winning handicap debut last time in a decently contested qualifier for this (Kilbricken Storm in behind).