my thoughts and bets @ punchestown day 2 -- 29/4/2015

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my thoughts and bets @ punchestown day 2 -- 29/4/2015

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3:40 Martinstown Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle

Next to impossible with plotted-up horses aplenty I’m sure about to leave their form miles behind in this race confined to conditional riders and many small yards have won this Final in the 11 years since it was first run. Therefore I suggest if you do play then keep stakes to a minimum.
Sea Beat has been a talking horse for a season and a half now but his row of duck eggs keeps extending. Only rated 119, I am sure Arthur Moore thinks he is better than that and maybe this better ground will be more to his liking having finished third to Windsor Park on his only Flat start. Cassells Rock might be another who will appreciate this better ground for Tony Martin having won twice when summer jumping last year.

Oscar Knight has course-winning form when successful here in February having also run another couple of good races at Punchestown and he has not had a chance to race on better ground yet. He is also owned by J P McManus who sponsors this race series for which this is the Final and he is also represented by the Aidan O’Brien-trained Egyptian Warrior who is another with a sound-surface profile so can leave his recent efforts behind. Landau has a sexier profile than most being Gordon Elliott-trained and having won two of his last four starts including when sent over to Exeter so he is likely to be the fore in the betting.

Nickname Exit looks the number one of Willie Mullins’ pair ahead of Tarabiyn and won his only race over hurdles so he too is one for the sexy-profile punters. However, he was third behind Russian Bill in a bumper in January and now has to give Noel Meade’s charge 4lb here. Russian Bill would also be a leading fancy if we overlook his last run where he was too bad to be true in a Grade 3 novice hurdle having won his previous two starts and, in Ger Fox, he arguably has the most talented young rider in the race on his side.

Short List

Russian Bill

Oscar Knight

Cassells Rock

Nickname Exit

Sea Beat


Probably the most horrible race of the meeting to try and work out and nothing really to add to the above but Landau and Egyptian Warrior would be the two of the septet I have highlighted to leave out. RUSSIAN BILL would be a token selection ahead of NICKNAME EXIT as I think he’s pretty good if you can forgive him his last run and I like his jockey in this boys’ race. The other three of OSCAR KNIGHT, CASSELLS ROCK and SEA BEAT are included more in hope that they will improve for the better ground than they have been racing on of late.

4:20 Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle

Restricted to horses with no more than one win over timber of any age, Davy Russell has won the last three renewals and has been booked for On Fiddlers Green who was not disgraced when beaten 15l into third by Shaneshill last time out at 100/1 after winning a maiden hurdle and he is only 8lb off the top-rated contender which is the far more experienced Sadler’s Risk (140) who was sixth in the Triumph Hurdle three years ago for Philip Hobbs having been a good horse on the Flat but never kicked on. Now with Henry de Bromhead, after being well beaten in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase, Sadler’s Risk was sent back hurdling and won here on New Year’s Eve before finishing second of three last time out with Aklan a disappointing tailed-off last of three. He looks there to be shot at by an improving horse though. Second top rated just 2lb adrift is Identity Thief and he looks the one to beat. He got found out in the Grade 1 Deloitte Hurdle but the 1-2 have both won Grade 1s since then so no shock that he couldn’t compete with distinction there and his chance is better judged on his second to Sempre Medici in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse earlier in the month.

Of the others rated 130+, Total Recall and Prince Of Scars both represent Sandra Hughes. Total Recall has the advantage of being a course-and-distance winner when taking a maiden hurdle here in February since when he has been outclassed in two Grade 2s including finishing one place behind On Fiddlers Green last time out and Prince Of Scars was just 3l adrift back in fifth. Shantou Flyer has not run for 78 days since running poorly in a Grade 3 at Clonmel in testing ground but his only win came on Good ground so this better surface could be key and he has place claims on his second to Free Expression in a Grade 2 at Navan in November. This is a drop in class for Gerdago who has been struggling against the likes of Dedigout and Felix Yonger recently and his 3½l third to Dedigout in the Boyne Hurdle gives him a shot. Aidan O’Brien’s Marchese Marconi completes the 130+ contenders and has the Flat class to be a factor having finished second to Windsor Park at Galway in October but he has not matched that over timber. The rest don’t look good enough.

Short List

Identity Thief

On Fiddlers Green



The Grade 2 over this trip at Fairyhouse earlier this month should have a bearing featuring ON FIDDLERS GREEN, Total Recall and Prince Of Scars who finished third, fourth and fifth behind Shaneshill but IDENTITY THIEF looks the one to beat on his second to the smart Sempre Medici at the same meeting over 2m and if he can reproduce that form over this extra 4f, he can outclass his rivals. It may have been a messy Boyne Hurdle but GERDAGO ran well to finish third not beaten far and this is a drop in class from that contest. Although eighth of nine in another Grade 2 last time, he was only beaten 9l so he has to be considered for each-way purposes.

4:55 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle

First run in 2008 and upgraded to a Grade 1 race three years ago having previously been a standard novice hurdle and then a Grade 3 and Grade 2, therefore this staying novice hurdle equivalent of Cheltenham’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over 3m is still finding its feet to an extent so trends are thin on the ground. In its seven runnings to date this contest has provided surprise winners with four striking at a double-figure price, though The Midnight Club and Beat That justified favouritism, the latter beating Don Poli into second 12 months ago in the race’s classiest running to date. Those two winners were also the only two winners that had previously won over 3m under Rules.

The Albert Bartlett third, No More Heroes, has the best 3m form in the race and he may well have won at Cheltenham had Bryan Cooper not gone for a run up the inside rail and was quickly chopped off. In testing ground it took him an age to get into top gear again and he was only beaten 1½l by Martello Tower. He is a gorgeous stamp of a horse that looks every inch a potential top notcher when he is sent chasing so the big question is whether 47 days is enough recovery time after a very hard race?

Willie Mullins has won two runnings with The Midnight Club and Marasonnien but was out of luck with Don Poli finishing second last season and also in 2013 when his favourite and second-favourite, Ballycasey and Inish Island, finished third and second respectively behind Morning Assembly. He did saddle the 1-2-3 the previous season however and has decided to raise the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up, Shaneshill, up to three miles. He cruised to victory over 2m4f at the Fairyhouse Easter Meeting in a manner that suggested another half-mile for the last season’s Grade 1 Bumper winner on this card shouldn’t be a problem and most top class bumper horses tend to be stayers. Mullins also runs the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle winner, Killultagh Vic, but he won that handicap off just 135 so even a 7lb raise for that win leaves him 11lb to find with Shaneshill. He does shape like a real stayer however and is open to more improvement for the extra half-mile. Mullins also runs Roi Des Francs who was third behind Killultagh Vic at Cheltenham giving 4lb and beaten 4½l so there is little between them on that evidence. He was pulled up at Aintree however behind Thistlecrack in the Grade 1 2m novice hurdle so has a wellbeing question to answer.

The Colin Tizzard-trained Thistlecrack will be attempting to emulate Beat That last year who won this prize after winning the Sefton at Aintree. A surprise 25/1 winner at Liverpool but the step up a mile brought around tremendous improvement, Alpha Des Obeaux would have given him a race but for a last-flight fall but he still beat the remainder by 13l. A second British challenger is the Harry Fry-trained Fletchers Flyer who was set to contest the Albert Bartlett but withdrawn on the morning so he is fresh having not run since narrowly beaten by Definitely Red in a Grade 2 at Haydock where he looked to have the race in the bag for most of the home straight giving the runner-up 3lb. Rebecca Curtis completes the British invasion sending over Binge Drinker who has won four of his six starts over hurdles but he was found out both times he went into pattern-race company.

Arctic Skipper, Fine Article, High Stratos and Sub Lieutenant complete the field. Arctic Skipper looks too inexperienced having his third hurdles start (I like race-hardened horses for top-class staying novice hurdles) coming off a maiden hurdle win on his second start, High Stratos likewise, Fine Article is exposed and one paced and was beaten into second by Roi Des Francs at Clonmel but Sub Lieutenant has a squeak if he stays this longer trip having finished fourth to Nichols Canyon over 2m4f at Aintree and beating the Albert Bartlett runner-up, Milsean, by 5½l on his previous start, though the runner-up that day did improve significantly for a real slog at Cheltenham.

Short List

No More Heroes


Fletchers Flyer


I think that NO MORE HEROES is the best long-term prospect in the field and the one to beat if he has recovered from a hard race in the Albert Bartlett even if SHANESHILL is officially rated the better horse by 6lb on his Supreme Novices’ Hurdle run. That figure was put up over a mile shorter trip than he faces today however but he should stay, it’s just whether he is quite as good over 3m as he is over shorter. The pair met in a Grade 2 over 2m4f at Navan in December and No More Heroes came out on top and I think he is even more likely to do over another half a mile. Thistlecrack has a Grade 1 win to his name but I prefer FLETCHERS FLYER of the British raiders who missed the Albert Bartlett which could prove to be a blessing in disguise given what an attritional race it was.

5:30 Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup

The Cheltenham Gold Cup has to be the starting point as seven of the last 11 winners contested jumping’s blue riband at the Festival. Although Coneygree has been put away for the season, we still have Djakadam and Road To Riches representing jumping’s blue riband, who had such a good battle for second taking their chance in addition to On His Own (5th), Boston Bob (10th) and The Giant Bolster (pulled up). Djakadam ran a blinder to be second given only one six-year-old had won the Gold Cup since 1963 which was always my sticking point with him but no horse travelled with more purpose behind Coneygree for the meat of the race. The concern is how much did that hard race take out of a young horse who was having just his sixth chase start and Willie Mullins has alluded to that in the build up to deciding whether to declare him or not. The more battle-hardened Road To Riches finished on his tail and might be better equipped to recover in time of the pair chasing a third Grade 1 win of the season. Last year’s winner was also a successful favourite and it has been a very good race indeed for the market leader with nine of the last 13 proving successful. It will be interesting to see which of this pair or Don Cossack is sent off the market leader.

Three years ago China Rock was the only Gold Cup representative in the field (though he could finish only eighth at Cheltenham beaten 48l by Synchronised) and won here a 20/1 so it is not all about the Gold Cup principals. On His Own ran well to finish fifth and has since won again beating Roi Du Mee in a Grade 3. He did bomb out in this race last year however after he was second in the Gold Cup and I would be disappointed from a race fan’s perspective if he can win at the age of 11, especially as there has been no winner of this race over the age of ten. His owner-mate Boston Bob won last season’s renewal but he has not been in the same form this season. I have to conclude that his wins in last season’s Melling Chase (beat Rolling Aces) and this race (beat First Lieutenant) were both below-par renewals. The fact that Paul Townend rides On His Own in preference to Boston Bob says plenty. The Giant Bolster didn’t fire in the Gold Cup being another who was thrown out of his comfort zone by Coneygree placing too much pressure on his sticky jumping. He reserves his best for the New Course at Cheltenham so I don’t see him bouncing back to his best here.

Given that this race takes place over 2m4f, it is a little surprising that the John Durkan Memorial Chase has been the best Irish guide having featured as many as seven of the last 16 winners stretching back to Imperial Call in 1999. Then again, it is also run at Punchestown and course form has counted for plenty in this race down the years as ten of the last 11 Irish-trained winners had won at Punchestown before which is something Djakadam and On His Own have yet to achieve. This season’s John Durkan witnessed Don Cossack beat Boston Bob and Lord Windermere. The other key Irish race is the Lexus Chase which has thrown up four of the last 12 winners and saw Road To Riches beat On His Own with Boston Bob back in fourth.

The Betfred Bowl winner doesn’t often run here but has a good record when it does. This year’s winner, Silviniaco Conti, has been put away until the autumn however but the narrow runner-up, Ballynagour, takes his chance having only been beaten a head in a first-time hood. The most impressive performance at Aintree was put up by Don Cossack who sauntered to victory in the Melling Chase running to a mark of 171 (can be argued to be much higher) which makes him the top-rated horse in the race. The worry is are Gigginstown going to the well too often with him and too soon after a big performance? He won very easily but beating Cue Card 26l into second has got to take something out of a horse hasn’t it? Flemenstar is declared but it looks like a contingency plan if something goes wrong early in the 2m chase on Day 1 and he doesn’t stay anyway.

Short List

Road To Riches

On His Own



Firstly, in-running bettors take note as five of the last nine winners were leading from as far as four out. Extend that to six who were in front three out. A cracking race made even more interesting by the declaration of Don Cossack so soon after his Aintree demolition job of Cue Card but I would have thought that Cooper would ride Don Cossack leaving Paul Carberry to take the mount on the Meade-trained ROAD TO RICHES having won the Grade 1 on him at Down Royal in November but the fact Cooper is on Road To Riches strikes me as significant and I think he might be better equipped than Djakadam at this stage of their careers to run to his Gold Cup form after they both endured a hard race. Having stated that I would disappointed if ON HIS OWN won, and I would be, that doesn’t mean he can’t win with question marks hanging over whether some of his rivals might underperform after hard races last time out, and I think he might be the best each-way or place-only play. Yes, he blew out in this race last year after an exceptionally hard run in the Gold Cup when beaten a nose after his jockey received a seven-day ban for overuse of the whip so I can forgive him that and he does jump out to his right so this course should suit better than Cheltenham. He is also in great heart having finished fifth in the Gold Cup and then easily beating the in-form Roi Du Mee. The fact that Townend rides rather than last year’s winner Boston Bob also encourages me that he will run a big race. BALLYNAGOUR put up a career-best effort when upped to this trip when just beaten by Silviniaco Conti in the Bowl which has been a good guide to this race and what price would the dual King George winner be here? Ballynagour was also a close third in the 2m Grade 1 chase at this meeting last year after a placed effort at Aintree and is fresher than most so I can see him outrun his odds.

6.05 Attheraces Champion INH Flat Race

The most prestigious of the six bumpers scheduled at the Punchestown Festival and, unlike the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, it is restricted to amateur riders plus seven-year-olds are allowed to take part, though none do this year.

As the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham is the only other Grade 1 race of its type in Britain or Ireland, it stands to reason that it is likely to be the most significant guide which is the case by a huge margin. Since this Grade 1 event at Punchestown was first run in 1992, 12 winners contested the Cheltenham version of which 11 finished in the first six at Prestbury Park including last year when Shaneshill reversed places with Silver Concorde when they filled the first two places again. In doing so Shaneshill became the fourth runner-up at Cheltenham to gain ample consolation here following Tiananmen Square, Aeries Girl and Arctic Camper so Modus, a 1½l runner-up to Moon Racer last month, is trying to become the fifth. Like the winner he missed the break which may have proven to be a blessing in disguise before storming through the field in a first-time hood on his seasonal debut having not run since finishing unplaced in the same Festival Bumper the previous year. If he can reproduce that form he should have no problem holding off Supasundae (6th), Montana Belle (8th), Bay Of Freedom (9th), Bellshill (10th) – since finished second at Aintree, Au Quart de Tour (13th), Livelovelaugh (15th) and Bordini (pulled up). The question marks are whether he was flattered by coming through off a strong pace, will the hood work again and will he bounce as that was a big run following a year’s layoff? Of the 12 winners that ran in the Champion Bumper only Hidden Universe (19th) in 2010 had finished out of the first six so Supasundae still qualifies as interesting on that count having run a good race on his first start for Henry de Bromhead.

The other quartet to run at Cheltenham were all trained by Willie Mullins who collectively disappointed. In fact the Irish disappointed as a whole as it was a 1-2-3-4 for the Brits. Mullins also runs the unbeaten-in-three Pylonthepressure who looked like being one of his biggest hopes in the Festival Bumper (though he was not the intended ride of Patrick Mullins so not their number-one hope) but was withdrawn on the morning. Given how his other bumper horses ran at Cheltenham though, there has to be a question mark whether he would also have been up to it. Patrick Mullins rides Bellshill today with Jane Mangan coming in for the ride on Pylonthepressure. With a jaw-dropping eight Weatherbys Champion Bumpers winners, Willie Mullins is clearly the number-one yard for top-class bumper horses and he has won this race on five occasions and saddled four more horses to finish second.

Modus, Altior and Wade Harper represent the British and it is very strange how British-trained horses have a far better record in this Grade 1 race than the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival down the years and the David Pipe-trained The Liquidator was another winner two years ago. Since this race became a Grade 1 in 1995, the Brits started to take a keener in interest and won four times in the next 11 years courtesy of Arctic Camper, King’s Road, Royal Rosa and Refinement when they were seriously outnumbered which was certainly surprising to me given that they could hardly bag a Champion Bumper within the same time frame when being responsible for the majority of the field. In addition to their five winners, British-trained horses have supplied five runners-up. All in all, as they don’t travel over in great numbers, the British have a good record here. Modus’ form claims are there for all to see and Wade Harper from the David Dennis stable arrives here off the back of a win at Market Rasen having finished second at Haydock. He is owned by Favourites Racing who likes runners in Ireland so I have to think he is more of a social runner rather than as serious contender. Altior is sent over by Nicky Henderson having bypassed Cheltenham for which he was an intended runner. His close-up third to Barters Hill in a Listed Bumper looks a lot better now given the winner then added the competitive Grade 2 Bumper at the Grand National Meeting.

Five-year-olds supplied the 1-2-3-4-5-6 two years ago and six of the first seven positions last year. Restricted to horses aged no older than seven since 2007, as with the Champion Bumper there was a time when I was keen to take on four-year-olds but, after struggling terribly in this race (as they did at Cheltenham) it has been different of late (as it also has for Cheltenham) with Dermot Weld’s Hidden Universe winning in 2010 aged four and the same yard went close again the following season with a four-year-old when Waaheb was sent off 15/8 favourite in receipt of 8lb and was only beaten a short-head with another four-year-old, Jenari, back in third. Hidden Universe became only the second of his age ever to have won this contest two years ago with Royal Rosa being the only other four-year-old to have prevailed here. Two four-year-olds take the plunge and both have good claims as Disko was impressive here 70 days on his only start for Noel Meade (has won three of the last ten renewals in addition to Tiananmen Square who won the inaugural running in 1992) and Charbel is 2-2 for Thomas Mullins winning at Leopardstown and Limerick. However, of the last 16 winners all but three had raced no more than three times under Rules. The only once-raced winner was Sweeps Hill who was the chief beneficiary of Dunguib’s disqualification a few months later.

Short List






The home team usually get spanked by the Irish in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper but on the six occasions when the Brits were successful at Cheltenham, they also provided the runner-up and even a 1-2-3-4-5-6 in 2003. This year they had the 1-2-3-4 so they look to hold the aces in this division this season, especially as none of Willie Mullins’ quintet, four of which run again here, could not finish in the first nine at Cheltenham. The runner-up, MODUS, is the form horse and the Brits do well in this race from few runners so it is hard to knock him off a short list. Given the British form is stacking up better than the Irish this season I also want to include ALTIOR for Nicky Henderson especially as his Newbury form was franked by the hard-as-nails Barters Hill at Aintree. DISKO would be unlike Noel Meade’s other winners of this race being a once-raced four-year-old but there was so much to like about his only start when he won well here by 15l that the Gigginstown-owned, Nina Carberry-ridden contender can be filed in the ‘could be anything’ category. I also like the fact they wanted to miss Cheltenham with him to be aimed at this prize instead. Charbel is another unbeaten four-year-old to be respected but as top-six finishers in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper have won this race 11 times, then I have to include the only other qualifier from Cheltenham, SUPASUNDAE. He looked potentially special when beating the Champion Bumper fourth, Yanworth, at Ascot in December looking a real physical beast when trained by Andrew Balding and was subsequently bought by Alan Potts and put away until Cheltenham and pulled too hard for his own good at the Festival so his sixth place finish can be marked up.

6:40 Guinness Handicap Chase

This 100,000 euros contest is the big handicap chase of the meeting and don’t be concerned if your fancy failed to finish in the first three last time out as 12 of the last 15 winners failed to occupy a top-three slot on their previous outing yet 12 of the last 18 winners started between second and fourth-favourite which suggests that this is a handicap for plotted-up horses.

Following novices in handicap at the big spring Festivals is never a bad thing and they have an eye-catching record in the most valuable handicap chase of the meeting winning seven of the last 16 runnings, Klepht being the latest two years ago at 12/1 who is trying to win it again off a 1lb lower mark and David Mullins taking off another 5lb and he showed he might be coming back to form with a fair effort in the Plate at Cheltenham beaten 13l. A shame that there are no novice representatives this year but Gold Bullet is having just his sixth chase start. He is a horse I like and didn’t stay when thirteenth in the Kim Muir but looked an improving individual when beating Baily Green last time at Clonmel when dropped down to this trip and, although he officially not a novice so doesn’t meet the excellent novice stats, effectively he is given his lack of chase starts. You Must Know Me held every chance when he fell two out in that same contest so I have to also like his chance of running well if I like Gold Bullet. Toon River is chasing a third win in four starts and also respected.

Three fairly recent winners had run at the Cheltenham Festival in the Grand Annual, Plate and Arkle Trophy. Philip Hobbs’ Bouchasson followed up his shock 50/1 win in Ayr’s Future Champions Novices’ chase by winning here 15 years ago but that was the last time a British-trained horse proved successful. That said, the Brits have only found one too good in two of the last six seasons. Warren Greatrex sends over Baby Mix who was not disgraced in the Red Rum Chase on his first run for 16 months at Aintree finishing sixth of 17. Nicky Henderson has declared Ericht but he has been disappointing in four starts since he was third to Johns Spirit at Cheltenham in October.

Willie Mullins has trained five of the last 11 winners so his top weight Turban clearly requires the closest scrutiny. A faller when in fifth (but well back) in the Topham last time out (in which Art Of Logistics was a well beaten sixth) after finishing tenth in the Grand Annual, his chance is best judged on his defeat of Rubi Light at Clonmel in February. Rubi Light, who would prefer it softer, only got as far as the third in the Grand National but won his previous two races so Turban was beating an in-form horse. However, 12 of the last 16 winners carried under 11st and, in the last ten seasons alone, 33 of the 40 top-four places have gone the way of horses carrying less than 11st so it was some performance for Scotsirish to win off 11st 10lb four years ago. The weight stats also put me off Bright New Dawn, Rathlin and Foil Dubh.

Paul Nolan won this race in successive years with Torduff Boy (2002 and 2003) and his Kymandjen only found one too good two years later. He ran King Vuvuzela last year and he ran okay to finish fifth and he is back again off a 3lb lower mark. The winner from 12 months ago is also back and Orpheus Valley is off a similar handicap rating again. In fact, he is 1lb lower and he showed his first piece of worthwhile form since that win last time out when third to Rubi Light. It would appear he is being trained for a repeat. Also returning is last year’s third, Pass The Hat, but he is 12lb higher this year.

Short List

Gold Bullet

You Must Know Me

King Vuvuzela



I think GOLD BULLET is a horse to follow and I take him to follow up his win at Clonmel. It might have been close between him and YOU MUST KNOW ME had the latter not fallen two out so a sneaky little reverse exacta may also not go amiss here, just in case that form line is the best on offer. I backed KING VUVUZELA in this race last year mainly off the back of Paul Nolan’s record in the race and taking the view that this had been the plan and he ran well enough to finish fifth so I can’t put you off chancing him each-way again at what is likely to be a working man’s price. Of the last two winners of this race who return again, I prefer KLEPHT to Orpheus Valley. Klept was my main fancy when he won this race in 2013 and he looks to have been trained for a repeat having shown more spark at Cheltenham last time.

7.15 Old House, Kill INH Flat Race

This is the fifth running of this bumper for horses not to have won under Rules aged five, six or seven. Unlike the Day 1 bumpers, there is more form to dissect as all but four of the 17 runners have run including three who have won a point-to-point; Articulum, who won 38 days ago for Terence O’Brien, Raise A Tail for Jessica Harrington (who bred Articulum) who was scoring on his second try between the flags 134 days ago and, most interestingly given how well David Pipe does at this meeting from few runners, Champers On Ice who won by 12l last month and the stable have turned to Jamie Codd which always catches the eye.

The best piece of form under Rules looks to be that of the Dermot Weld-trained First Figaro who was second to Space Cadet in one of the four bumpers at Leopardstown’s Christmas Meeting. That particular bumper may not have been as strong as usual this year but Weld tends to run his best young horses at that meeting so the fact that he made his debut there is significant to my mind. Also runners-up on their last start are Rosetub, but she is still a maiden after eight starts, Edwulf, who is sent over the Irish Sea by Ben Pauling and given he has a top bumper horse in Barters Hill to measure him against, that makes him interesting on his debut under Rules having been second in a point-to-point in December, and Arkwrisht for Willie and Patrick Mullins for Gigginstown but he was a beaten favourite on both his starts. Exxaro is also worth a mention for Henry de Bromhead having twice finished second in bumpers including to the useful Sub Lieutenant before finishing fourth over hurdles and now returning to bumpers.

Short List

First Figaro

Champers On Ice



Hard to be confident about any of the five non-Grade 1 bumper races at this meeting but I like it when Dermot Weld introduces horses at the Leopardstown Christmas Meeting as they are usually well regarded to FIRST FIGARO would be my tentative selection to improve for that initial experience. David Pipe won the Grade 1 bumper at this meeting two years ago and sends over CHAMPERS ON ICE for his debut under Rules having won a point-to-point and as the Brits seem to have the best bumper horses around so far EDWULF also makes it on the shortlist for the very much going-places Ben Pauling stable who know what a good bumper looks like as we have seen with Barters Hill.

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