A cracking days racing featuring a number of Cheltenham clues starts the weekend writes Martin Pennington
Course and distance winner Blood Cotil is taken to continue his unbeaten record since switching to Willie Mullins by taking this very valuable Grade 1 Juvenile contest. A winner at Fairyhouse in his Maiden Hurdle two starts back by a very easy seventeen lengths he built on that here over Christmas when taking a Grade 3 contest when sent off a 4/9 favourite his course experience could prove useful here under the ever capable Emmet Mullins.
Rising Time represents the yard of County Wexford trainer Paul Nolan and she has been fairly consistent over hurdles so far and she goes particularly well for today’s jockey Michael Doran having won two under him and placed another twice from just six outings together. Rising Time hasn’t been seen out since running moderately behind Avondhu Lady at Fairyhouse overfences in December but crucially she sports a first time hood today and fresh off a break she can go well for connections.
Buthelezi was a very useful horse on the flat having been beaten just 8 ¾ lengths in a Group 3 at Newbury two years ago and he made the perfect start to his hurdling career when running out the ready winner of his sole Hurdles start to date at Aintree in December. The extra furlong here looks likely to suit him and whilst that was on soft ground he should handle the softer surface here today and taking on a number of horses who disappointed on their latest starts he looks the most reliable option for up and coming UK based trainer John Ferguson.
Texas Jack has taken a while to come good over fences and he travelled best of all two starts back when tackling a 3m Novice Chase here over Christmas. Stamina got the better of him that day and he ultimately weakened into third placing, however he made no mistake here last time out when tackling today’s course and distance for the first time to beat today’s rival Lord Windermere by half a length. He was a very useful hurdler and although beaten by Boston Bob when they met in that sphere back in January 2012 he appears to have taken to fences better given that the favourite struggled home as a 1/5 favourite for his chasing debut at Naas in December.
Tony Martin has made a habit of providing shocks in Grade 1 races here in recent seasons, largely thanks to the very useful Benefficient and he can provide another here in the shape of the Gigginstown House Stud owned Bog Warrior. The selection made a highly promising start to his chasing career last season when slamming today’s likely favourite Flemenstar by 7 ½ lengths at Navan in November 2011. Whilst Flemenstar has since reversed that form in emphatic fashion in a Grade 3 at Naas the selection ran too badly to be true. Having suffered a fall on his comeback run at Down Royal he’s been campaigned over hurdles since, proving himself to be a very useful performer by easily defeating the formerly high class Solwhit and the Willie Mullins trained Zaidpour in his two most recent starts. He’s a confirmed stayer and is still relatively unexposed over fences and can provide a shock in this Grade 1.
Rory Anna is taken to build on her comfortable win at Gowran Park on Thyestes day here by taking this big field handicap hurdle. She travelled well into the race that day and though she made a mistake at the final hurdle she fully deserved her victory on that occasion. Prior to that she’d finished third to today’s rival Tennis Cap though she was closing on the winner at the finish. The selection wasn’t beaten far in this last year and though she’s higher up in the weights the ground conditions should be more to her liking today.
Warne is taken to enhance his reputation in this field by recording a second Hunter Chase success in this event which is sure to prove a key pointer towards the Cheltenham Foxhunters next month. Warne was a very decent hurdler and is still unexposed in points and Hunter Chases having had just the two starts in points, the most recent of which was an easy seven length victory over Mandy Carroll at Ballinaboola last month. That was Warne’s first outing of the season with his previous start being an easy Hunter Chase success at Listowel back in June. He takes on the countries leading Hunter Chasers here but comes here relatively fresh whilst other leading contenders had hard races last time out or would prefer underfoot conditions to be less testing.
Mikey O’Connor’s Golden Rascal is taken to build on his highly promising debut behind the potentially top class Golantilla at Cork last month. Held up in rear Golden Rascal made good headway on the outside of runners two furlongs from home before his effort petered out. The third from that race Nouveau Moulin has won convincingly since and he could shock some of his better fancied rivals.