More than a feeling
Alex Hammond is leaning towards Bostons Angel in one of four Grade 1 races at Leopardstown.
Last Updated: 10/02/12 6:28pm
Sadly, Newbury's Super Saturday meeting has been beaten by the big freeze.
The frost covers had been down for almost a fortnight, but it was 4cm of snow that did for it in the end.
However, at the time of writing there is hope the meeting maybe rescheduled, possibly next week, or the main races could be saved. With Cheltenham just over a month away trainers will be desperate to get final runs into their festival bound horses.
Well, despite that disappointment there are four Grade 1 races to look forward to at Leopardstown on Sunday.
The Hennessy has seen a number of high-profile defections, including Synchronised, Jessies Dream and Quito De La Roque all bypassing the three-mile race.
So, Quel Esprit is Sky Bet's 11/10 favourite for Willie Mullins but he's by no means a solid proposition over fences. You may recall as a novice he fell twice and was brought down once and as a result lost his confidence.
However, Mullins has been treading softly with him this season and he has won two lesser races easily. He still hasn't been foot perfect but he now takes the big step back into Grade 1 company.
Jessica Harrington saddles 7/2 second favourite Bostons Angel who won last year's RSA Chase but has been keeping a bit back for himself this season it seems. He won a Novice Hurdle at Doncaster in first time blinkers two years ago but hasn't worn headgear since going chasing.
However, his trainer has decided to run him in cheek-pieces on Sunday and he has apparently worked well in them in the build up to this race. He was due to run in the Lexus over Christmas but Harrington wasn't happy with him then so let's hope he puts his best foot forward here. The only concern I have is that the RSA sometimes bottoms novice chasers and I hope he can recapture his best form.
China Rock is 5/1 for Mouse Morris. He pulled up in last season's Gold Cup where he was injured and has had one run since when 4th in a hurdle race last month. He was fourth in this race last year and wouldn't want the ground to be too testing.
Magnanimity is 13/2 and Dessie Hughes is going for both the tongue tie and cheek-pieces for the first time in this race. He was fourth to Bostons Angel in the RSA last term and has only run once since when beating one home in the Lexus Chase over Christmas.
Follow the Plan has been running with credit this season and at 16/1 could be an option for each way punters. So, it seems there are ifs and buts about all the leading contenders and I'm going tentatively with Bostons Angel and hope that the headgear helps him reproduce his best.
There are five entries for the 2m 5f Dr. P.J. Moriarty Novice Chase. Last Instalment is vying for favouritism with Bog Warrior with both horses owned by the Gigginstown Stud, but it seems unlikely that they will take each other on here.
Last Instalment is trained by Philip Fenton and he looked brilliant in Grade 1 company at this track in December. That was his third win in a row since going chasing and he handled the step up to that company with the minimum of fuss. He will appreciate soft ground as he is a big, heavy-topped horse.
He drops back in trip here, but will be stepping back up to three miles for the RSA Chase for which he is 7/1 third favourite behind Grand Crus and Bob's Worth.
Bog Warrior is 12/1 for the RSA Chase but he is more likely to run at Naas on Saturday.
Edward O'Grady will saddle Shot From The Hip who won the Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown last spring. He was well backed for his chasing debut but let his supporters down there.
However, he has since won at Fairyhouse last month. Watch out for the horse he beat at Fairyhouse, Ninetieth Minute, who runs at Naas on Saturday as he should give an idea how good that form was.
Willie Mullins runs Call the Police and Lambro with Ruby Walsh siding with the latter and Paul Townend booked for Call the Police. Lambro was second to subsequent Irish Arkle winner Flemenstar on his last outing early last month.
The step back up in trip will be much more to his liking as the two-mile trip there was short of his best. He is clearly improving and shouldn't be dismissed even against a horse as good as Last Instalment. At the likely prices I'm going to take the favourite on with Ruby's mount.
The third Grade 1 is the Deloitte Novice Hurdle and it's great to see that Nicky Henderson has supplemented Captain Conan for the 2m 2f contest. He drifted like a barge before his British debut in the Tolworth Hurdle but despite that won the Grade 1 by a narrow margin from Colour Squadron who threw his chance away by hanging in the Sandown race.
Henderson thinks highly of this horse but we apparently won't see the best of him until he goes chasing. Henderson feels this run will tell him where he stands with the horse. His main market rival is the Willie Mullins trained Sous les Cieux who was behind Cash and Go over two miles at Leopardstown over Christmas.
The extra two furlongs will suit him better here. Cash and Go takes a step into the unknown trip wise for Edward O'Grady having won all his three hurdle starts over two miles. Lord Windermere is an interesting runner for Best Mate's former jockey Jim Culloty.
He has only had the three starts (all over hurdles), he fell on debut and has since won his maiden and a Listed Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in December. Culloty describes this horse as a slow learner, but now he has got the hang of things could be a real threat to the protagonists and at the likely prices could be worth a punt.
The opening race on the card is the two-mile Spring Juvenile Hurdle. Willie Mullins' Ut de Sivola takes the step up into Grade 1 company. He is currently 12/1 with Sky Bet for the Triumph at Cheltenham in March. There's a strong British challenge with John Ferguson's Asaid entered along with Noel Quinlan's Crafty Roberto (who was the benefactor from Grumeti's fall at Newbury) and John Quinn's Countrywide Flame.
Sportsmaster is 20/1 for the Triumph for Edward O'Grady, he landed the odds when beating Hisaabaat at Naas last month. It looks very competitive and Ut de Sivola will quite rightly be very popular, but it may be worth backing Asaid each way as his trainer is doing very well with this type of horse.
Bostons Angel in the Irish Hennessy @ 7/2 with Sky Bet
Lambro in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase
Lord Windermere in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle
Asaid in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle (each way)