The Willie Mullins-trained Min is 5/2 at BetVictor (from 3s) for the Grade 1 Dublin Chase ahead of the declarations later today for the 2m Chase at Leopardstown tomorrow. Mullins has three of the first four in the betting with Chacun Pour Soi the 7/4 market leader and Cilaos Emery 4/1 also likely to represent the yard. If they all stand their ground it will be some race and it will tell us who is the best of the Irish. With Defi Du Seuil and Altior the best of British, the Champion Chase promises to be one of the races of the Festival.
At Lingfield today a market move for Martyn Meade’s Headland would be worth noting in the 7f Claimer given this is the yard’s first runner of the year. The four-year-old was not at his best when last seen on turf but both his disappointing runs have come on undulating tracks – Epson and Brighton – and he has been gelded since his last start.
Preference, however, is for Unforgiving Minute (1.40) who travelled very well when third in a Kempton handicap on Wednesday and this represents a drop in grade for Sean Curran’s veteran who has won his last couple of starts in this grade. He may need a decent gallop at this 7f trip, but Adam Kirby rode him earlier in the week and should get a good position from stall two if the race becomes tactical.
Emmet Mullins brings Oriental Eagle across the Irish Sea for the valuable Conditions event over 2m but he meets a couple of useful sorts from the stable of Mark Johnston including King’s Advice (2.10) who had such a remarkable 2019 winning eight of his 11 starts and rising 40lbs in the ratings from 71 to 111.
The six-year-old son of Frankel is still an entire horse, but he showed no sign of interest waning last season when he was one of the stars of the flat turf season and he won his seasonal reappearance here over 12f so the polytrack surface holds no terrors.
At Chepstow Eden Du Houx (1.50) was recently taken out of a race at Wetherby recently with a self-certificate which is a bit of a concern, but this dual winning Bumper horse for David Pipe is taken to break his duck over timber. The selection receives 6lbs from the previous winners and a bigger danger may come from Fidelio Vallis who was made debut for his British debut at Uttoxeter back in November but failed to give his running. Jockey Bryony Frost later advised that the saddle had slipped on the gelding.
A market move for Never Learn would be worth noting in the near 2m 4f handicap chase but my two against the field are On The Road – wearing first-time blinkers – and Indian Brave (2.55) with marginal preference for the latter who ran well at Sedgefield last time. The form of his previous second over today’s C&D has been franked in no uncertain terms by the winner and he will be staying on when others have cried enough under Robbie Dunne.
The mare Cavok (4.00) may have more to offer in staying chases for Ben Pauling and talented conditional Luca Morgan who takes off a valuable 7lbs on the recent Uttoxeter winner. The selection may have “stolen” the race at the Staffordshire track with the rider on the second possibly guilty of over-confidence. The mare has won on heavy ground between the flags and a 7lbs rise looks fair.
In the mares’ handicap chase at Catterick I hope to see Irish raider Alohamora (3.40) take the spoils in receipt of 5lbs from Molly Childers. The selection has won her last couple in Ireland including over fences on her penultimate start and conditional jockey Gavin Brouder is excellent value for his 7lbs claim.