Apples Jade landed the Grade 1 3m Hurdle at Leopardstown yesterday and was cut to 5/4 from 6/4 with BetVictor for the Mares’ Hurdle. The race, however, was marred by the fatal fall of last season’s Staying Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon who had been a wonderful servant to connections.
Today’s jumps card from Kelso was abandoned due to frost at the Borders track yesterday and today’s card at Doncaster must pass a 7am inspection with the ground described as good to soft (soft in places) at the time of writing.
Only five due to post for the extended two mile novices’ handicap chase and Azzurri is likely to have been freshened up by his 100 day break since disappointing at Worcester back in September. His fencing had impressed when winning two novice chases at Southwell back in the summer and he looks sure to go close for the in-form yard of Dan Skelton.
Paul Nicholls won the 2m Novices handicap Chase twelve months ago and saddles Copain De Classe (1.30) this afternoon. The selection reverts to the minimum trip having run well on his chase debut when third at Ascot over 2m 3f. The winner of that event (Benatar) is now unbeaten in three starts over fences and Copain De Classe has the scope to make his mark over the larger obstacles.
Black Op (2.05) shaped with considerable potential when fourth in a hot Newbury Novice Hurdle on his hurdles debut and I will be disappointed if this former Irish point winner didn’t improve for the step up in trip.
I hope it’s a good day for Ditcheat and hope to see Antartica De Thaix (2.40) return to winning ways in the listed Mares Chase dropping back to 2m 4f. The selection was no match for Mia’s Storm at Market Rasen last time but that mare remains potentially very good despite falling at Kempton on Boxing Day in Grade 1 company.
At Leopardstown Monalee (1.55) puts his RSA Chase credentials on the line in the Grade 1 3m Novice Chase. The selection is currently 6/1 favourite at BetVictor for Cheltenham and 4/5 for this afternoon’s contest and I believe he is a potential Gold Cup prospect. Mullins saddles Rathvinden and he is one of a number of potential dangers in a race where I expect the selection to drift to odds against such is the quality of opposition.
Former Champion Hurdler Faugheen has about 20lbs in hand on official figures in the other Grade 1 on the card and looks a steering job but his odds mirror that and it is a race best watched.
At Southwell do check the market to see if there is any confidence behind the filly Kohinoor Diamond stepped up to two miles for the first time on her fibresand debut. Stamina looks her forte but course winner Serenity Now (1.50) looks ready for a try at two miles and get the narrow vote for Brian Ellison.