It is due to be very cold, but largely dry, in the build up to the two-day Dublin Racing Festival which begins at Leopardstown on Saturday. There are only a handful of British runners over the weekend, but Gary Moore looks sure to saddle Knocknanuss (5/2 with BetVictor) in the Irish Arkle if the forecast is correct – needs decent ground – although Joseph O’Brien’s Le Richebourg (13/8 market leader at BetVictor) was hugely impressive over C&D last time.
There is a precautionary inspection planned at Wincanton this morning at 8am with some forecasts suggesting rain others sleet and snow at the Somerset track. Tom George has his string in good form and a chance is taken on Cruiseaweigh (1.55) who has not yet fulfilled his initial promise when he beat Elgin in an Aintree Bumper.
The selection wears a hood as he is very keen and was also fitted with a first-time tongue-tie for his reappearance (2m 4f) when pulled up following a near two-year absence. He drops to the minimum trip this afternoon and is potentially well-treated. A market move for Drops Of Jupitor would be worth noting.
I though Dan McGrue would make a decent novice chaser this season, but it looks as if connections have decided to keep him to hurdles this term having lost so much of the season. He makes his belated seasonal debut this afternoon and looks sure to run a big race, but preference is for Jimmy Rabbitte (3.00) who receives 19lbs from the Paul Nicholls-trained Dan McGrue.
Jimmy Rabbitte was all out to score at Catterick from a 10lbs lower mark last time, but I’m not convinced he appreciated the undulations and the runner up – Snowed In – invariably runs well at the Garrison track.
If Fakenham passes their morning inspection I would hope to see Brandon Castle (3.50) land his hat-trick for Neil King whose runners do well at the track. A decent stayer on the level I would expect to see Jeremiah McGrath make plenty of use of his mount around these tight turns.
The opening 12f handicap at Newcastle is , but I like the look of Home Before Dusk (4.05) who stayed on nicely into third on his first start at the trip at Wolverhampton last time. This lightly-raced maiden has been off the track since November, but the hope is that Keith Dalgleish will have him fit and ready after his short break.
At Meydan I was hoping to see Woven (3.40) step up to a mile having finished with a rare rattle when runner up over 7f here three weeks ago. The selection was, arguably, unlucky on that occasion having been hampered soon after the start. Jim Crowley keeps the ride. If Sporting Chance settles better than he did on his reappearance – behind Woven – he would have a chance of reversing the form, but he has yet to prove he gets this 7f trip.
I wouldn’t give up on Key Victory stepping back up to 10f, but I have always been an admirer of Oasis Charm (5.25) and I hope he can give William Buick a winner on his comeback from suspension although he does also have several fancied rides in the dirt races for Godolphin who have dominated the Carnival to date.
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