After a memorable weekend of National Hunt racing at both sides of the Irish Sea, our tipster Kevin O’Malley takes a look back at the key action and also suggests one to back in the Arkle...
The Champion Buveur D'Air answered some questions in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, when absolutely pulverising Samcro for back-end speed, an impressive victory which saw the two-time Champion Hurdle winner become an even money favourite to add his name to the few horse list that have won it three times. Jack Kennedy set a very sedate early pace on Samcro, which was strange given this horse stays five furlongs further. Given a Championship gallop over two miles, he could still come alive and run a blinder in March, but you’d be wanting a price more like 14-16/1, instead of the 8-9/1 currently available before being tempted into an each way bet on Samcro just now.
On Sunday, the brilliant Apple's Jade put in a career best effort on RPRs to win her third Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse. Like a fine wine, Apple’s Jade is getting better with age. Slicker in her jumping, more relentless in her galloping and more ruthless with her dismissal of rivals. Remarkably, she’s still only a 6yo, rising seven now of course, but ultimately the perfect age to take on the top 2m hurdlers now. It would be a crime to our sport if she ran in the Mares’ Hurdle again, given the level of pace and form she is displaying at the moment. In receipt of her 7lb allowance, she would surely be closely involved in the finish of the Unibet Champion Hurdle, but she'd probably need a good cut in the ground rather than fast. A general 10/1 shot, you’d prefer to be absolutely sure she’ll take her chance before backing her ante-post. She’s probably 3/1 to run in it at the moment, so is an unbackable proposition just now. Hopefully, Michael O’Leary will do the right thing and give Gordon Elliott the green light to train her for the two mile showpiece. Gigginstown House Stud has never owned a winner in the race. How exciting would it be for a fully tuned up Samcro and Apple’s Jade to be lining up together against Buveur D’Air, to fully test the dual Champion on his quest to emulate the likes of Istabraq and Make A Stand? It’s free to dream, folks…
25/1 Knocknanuss is up to Arkle standard
Lalor (Racing Post Rating 160 / Topspeed 130) sets a clear standard in the Racing Post Arkle market, but the Gary Moore trained KNOCKNANNUS put in a serious effort on Friday at Newbury in the Novices’ Handicap Chase. In opposition were several smart recent winners arriving in form, along with a returning Clondaw Castle who was very well supported in the betting. But from his BHA mark of 133, this 8yo gelding absolutely broke the hearts of his rivals with an outstanding round of running and jumping, winning by some 17 lengths come the finishing line. He ran to an RPR of 158 there and a Topspeed figure of 126, so is not far at all off what Lalor did at Cheltenham, not to mention the fact that he was very keen early and was eased right down in the closing stages of the race.
He may not have the profile of an Arkle winner, as a horse rising 9 years of age. But as an evidence based punter, it’s clear to me that he has the ability to fare very well in an Arkle Trophy Chase. Kalashnikov ran to an RPR 141 and TS of 119 on his chasing debut, while Mengli Khan ran to 144/59 in a very modest time despite the visual impression. It often pays to look beyond what you see and give some attention to the actual achievement on show. On what we’ve seen so far - it is very early days admittedly - Knocknanuss should not be 25/1 for the Arkle (trainer has mentioned it as a target, he also must go left handed) when so many others are trading much shorter in the betting, yet have some considerable work to do to achieve what this Beneficial gelding did on Friday.
You can get in touch with me via email: Kevin.OMalley@GG.CO.UK OR by finding me on Twitter: @KOM_GGRacing
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