The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle eases into day two and the Elliott trained Glan (133) should be ten pounds ahead of the handicap through Whisky Sour. Barry John Foley’s five pound claim that day brings them together and with the weight recalculation she should be making a mockery of the Turf Club 123 mark.
Galopin des Champs’ (170) flawless chase debut glistens the Ladbrokes Novices Chase to the blindness of the opponents and apart from the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle winner from last year’s Cheltenham festival, the contest is an intriguing one.
There’s little doubt that the best horse heads the market and should win handy but betting without opens a fascinating contest.
Beacon Edge (160) and Fury Road (158) were close to inseparable at Fairyhouse with the latter going on to win the three mile Grade 1 novice chase here at Christmas. However, it is the Faugheen Novice Chase scorer, Master McShee (166) that looks likely to be best of the rest. He has always shown this level of ability but only now has transcribed that ability to this level. If their are any flaws in the fav then Paddy Corkery’s stable star should pick up the remaining pieces.
Gaillard du Mesnil has not reverted to his hurdle form over fences and may well switch back to the smaller obstacles if the spark doesn’t reignite soon. Having said that, he was a lot closer to Capodanno (156) in their Beginners Chase and drawing a line through subsequent meeting with Bob Olinger shows him in better light (154).
Chacun Pour Soi (171) was scintillating in the 2021 Dublin Chase and a reproduction of that level of form would make him hard to beat again. His copybook has been somewhat blotted in the past twelve months and there is reason to take him on.
Captain Guinness may only have a figure of 160 but his maturity is enhancing his ability. Once a reckless tear-away, he is now settling better and I’ve no doubt a big day is in him. Despite his antics in the Arkle last year, he ran with credit. He ran away with Rachel Blackmore, encouraged by the headless Allmankind, and yet finished with a 96,34% efficiency speed to claim third.
The British raider is Greaneteen (170) and he is a fascinating contender. He only has a pound to find on Chacun and won’t be travelling over for the fresh air. At 100/30, he represents far better value than the 4/5 favorite.
The Bulmers Secret Orchard Leopardstown Handicap Chase is always a great contest and with Grand National winner Minella Times topping the weights off an official figure of 159 shows how classy the field is.
Gallant John Joe was put up as a horse to follow a few seasons ago and while those predicted heights have yet to come to fruition, he remains well handicapped and looks to be suited by conditions. Playing devil’s advocate makes him three pounds well in but on the wider grace of form he would have a lot more than that to mess with.
The other interesting runner is the so called ‘second coming’, Samcro. His career hasn’t exactly gone as expected when he was a novice hurdler or even a Cheltenham winning novice chaser but even on the worst of his form he would be five pounds well handicapped and with Davy Russell on board I fully expect him to out run his 20/1 odds.
It is hard to find reason to oppose Honeysuckle in the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle of which she was victor twice recent. The unbeaten mare is 4/11 to hold on to that title and aside from being the best in the race (168), the next highest performer, Zanahiyr (166) has to concede a mares allowance of seven cruel pounds to her. That means Honeysuckle not only is the one to beat but by giving her an advantage on top of that, Zanahiyr needs her to underperform by nine lengths.
The argument against her, and it is merely clutching at straws, is the unseasonal weather we have been having. If it were to affect her into season prematurely then there is a possibility that she can underperform. Also, Zanahiyr is a young horse and though he is precocious, he atill should have improvement in him on his 166.
But on the face of it, the most likely result is Honeysuckle beats Zanahiyr into second.
Sir Gerhard (163) has impressed on taking to hurdles and heads the market for the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle. He should go very close too but will have to be at least at his best to hold off an on song My Mate Mozzie (162) and Three Stripe Life (161). It looks a much closer contest than the market suggest.
Three Stripe Life was no match for Sir Gerhard in Bumpers and that sticks in the back of the mind. Sir Gerhard is open to the most improvement and is most likely to win.
Legendary trainer, Arthur Moore, doesn’t saddle too many these times but he has always kept a good one and in Sea Ducor (148) he has a fifteen pound well handicapped hurdler who was second over course and distance to Grade 1 winner, Master McShee last season. It is hard not to fancy his chances.Ballyadam was a slick hurdler last season and I was surprised by the decision to semd him chasing. He made a balls of two out in the Supreme Novices Hurdle when well held by Appreciate It but still ran to a speed figure of 146+. He runs off 146 but his Grade 1 form is better again so if he can translate that to handicaps then he could potentially be eleven pounds well in.