Santini was a gutsy winner of the feature Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday and was subsequently trimmed from 9s to 7/1 at BetVictor for the Gold Cup in March. Paisley Park is now Evens (from 5/4) to retain his Stayers’ Hurdle crown at the Festival after impressing in the Cleeve Hurdle although it will be fascinating to see if Thursday’s Galmoy Hurdle winner Benie Des Dieux is re-routed from the Mares’ Hurdle to take on Emma Lavelle’s stable star in the Grade 1 contest.
The picture should become a bit clearer after this weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival when the brilliant mare Honeysuckle is likely to take on the boys in the Irish Champion Hurdle. If Henry De Bromhead’s six-year-old maintains her unbeaten record at Leopardstown on Saturday – she is BetVictor’s 6/4 market leader – she is likely to run in the Champion Hurdle at the Festival, leaving Benie Des Dieux with something of a penalty kick in the Mares’ event.
The ground was described as soft – good to soft in places – at noon on Sunday for today’s seven-race card at Kelso. Sirwilliamwallace (1.15) was well supported when runner up at Ayr earlier in the month but was no match for a promising sort of Nicky Richard’s. He is taken to go one better with the mare Maid In Manhattan considered the main danger. She was beaten when coming down last time but that was in listed company and this represents a drop in grade.
Manetti is a triple point winner who is only 5lbs higher than when scoring at Ayr last time and he must have every chance of following up especially if he brushes up his jumping. Lastin’ Memories (2.15) is blinkered for the first time and the form of his 4L second to Dunly at Ayr earlier in the month was given a boost when the winner followed up from an 8lbs higher mark at Newcastle. If the headgear brings about some improvement, then I feel Sandy Forster’s eight-year-old will be difficult to beat.
Donald McCain had a welcome double at Doncaster on Friday, and I hope to see The Con Man (3.15) go one better than when runner up at Haydock last time. The selection is 5lbs higher in the weights this afternoon, but I still believe he may be up to defying his current mark. The slight step up in trip should also suit.
Ebony Jewel did us a favour when scoring at Haydock last time, but I felt Black Pirate (3.45) was value for more than the winning margin when scoring at Wetherby over Christmas and is taken to follow up. The selection was having his first start for over 600-days on that occasion and I would hope there is further improvement with that run under his belt.
Over at Plumpton and the form of Cap Du Mathan’s (1.30) third at Chepstow last time was give a boost when the winner – Harry Senior – won the Grade 2 contest at Cheltenham on Saturday. The selection can be keen, and I don’t think the drop back to the minimum trip will be an inconvenience.
On official figures Young Lieutenant has every chance of beating Cat Tiger (2.30) in the Novices’ Hurdle but I’m not convinced the former was at his best on heavy ground at Lingfield last time and the Warren Greatrex string remain quiet. Amateur jockey David Maxwell cramped up in the saddle in a Hunter Chase when clear last week, but he gets on very well with Cat Tiger and I hope he can return to winning ways aboard this C&D winner.
When Whisky In The Jar made his seasonal debut at Aintree last month the Olly Murphy yard were largely out of sorts. He has been dropped 5lbs in the weights this afternoon with the stable in much better form – a check of the market is advised.
Marginal preference, however, is for Hideaway Vic (3.00) who has had a wind operation since finishing second to Young Bull at Ffos Las back in November, The latter has won his next couple of starts and Hideaway Vic should appreciate the step up to three miles for the first time given he is the half-brother to a winning hurdler over 3m 3f.