The Irish Gold Cup threw up a strange but heart-warming winner courtesy of Edwulf, the horse who so very nearly lost his life at Cheltenham last March, but if we saw a future Gold Cup winner at Leopardstown on Sunday, surely it was either Monalee or Samcro.
Monalee is 3/1 for the RSA Chase with BetVictor after a wonderful round of jumping in the 2m 5f Grade 1 Novice Chase whilst Samcro is 10/11 (from 6/4) with BetVictor for the Ballymore Novices’ Chase after a sensational performance in the 2m Grade 1 Novice Hurdle. Samcro looks to have the world at his feet and connections are adamant we will not see him at his best until he goes over the larger obstacles.
Both today’s jumps cards are subject to “precautionary” inspections with both tracks optimistic that the localised snow showers will not abandon racing.
At Market Rasen, Chasma ran better than her finishing position would suggest when unplaced at Leicester last time but Stoical Patient (2.20) has been well entered up in recent weeks and she is taken to land her third chase success from her last four start for Gary Moore.
Nicky Henderson’s Burrows Edge has been a beaten favourite in his last three starts and this step up in trip looks sure to suit. Knight In Dubai (2.55) ran a good race in a Warwick Grade 2 last month, however, and this slight drop back in trip should suit Dan Skelton’s five-year-old who can give 6lbs to the unexposed Lambourn runner.
I’ve been banging on about Master Of Finance stepping up in trip for some time now and the seven-year-old has had a wind operation since running down the field at Cheltenham having his first start for Lucy Wadham. That said he is, arguably, a better horse on decent ground and he is overlooked on this occasion, although I do believe he will be winning races if the ground ever dries out.
The handicapper has certainly given Board Of Trade a chance and a market move for Future Security having his first start for Dan Skelton would be significant, but I am going to give the vote to top-weight Craggaknock (3.25) who looked as if he was on his way back when second to the well-handicapped Westend Story at Wetherby last month.
Leighton Aspell keeps the ride and this son of Authorised was rated 15lb higher in his pomp than he can race from this afternoon.
Just Minded (4.00) should appreciate this step back in trip having finished third at Catterick last time in a decent Novice Chase over an extended three miles. The selection won a Novice Hurdle here last March and is bred to be a chaser – this looks a fair opportunity for Sue Smith’s 7-y-old to get off the mark over the larger obstacles.
Toby Lerone did not look a winner-in- waiting when pulled up at Hereford last week in a race, he had won 12 months ago. Warden Hill (4.35) won a Novice Chase for Mick Channon over C&D back in 2015 and won a point-to-point last month under today’s amateur rider.
At Sedgefield, I will be disappointed if Instant Replay (3.15) cannot defy a 4lbs rise for scoring at the Durham track over a couple of furlong shorter last month. Connections feel he will make a decent 3m Chaser in time but he coped well enough with soft ground last time and can follow up.