All true jumping enthusiasts will be tuned into Channel 4 this Saturday to view the national hunt action from the second session of the three-day Paddy Power meeting at Cheltenham.
The featured race at the famed Prestbury Park venue is the Grade 3 Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase and it should prove profitable to row in behind Ashley Brook.
The Kevin Bishop-trained Ashley Brook rolled back the years in the best style imaginable by making a victorious return to the fray with Richard Johnson in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter earlier this month. This undulating track will more than likely suit Ashley Brook and the 11-year-old is taken to continue on his merry way at the expense of Peter Bowen’s Yes Sir.
Simon looks the part in the Servo Computer Services Trophy Handicap Chase. The John Spearing-trained Simon is without doubt one of the toughest horses in training and, although a casualty on his most recent start in last season’s Aintree Grand National, the son of Overbury is recommended to get back on the winning trail by beating Turko.
Tom Hogan’s Kirbybroguelantern should supplement his recent authoritative success at Naas by disposing of Overserved in the Clean Event Handicap Hurdle and the hat-trick seeking Resounding Glory, trained by Richard Fahy, should have most to fear from Starluck in the Racing K Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle.
On Sunday, the featured race at Cheltenham is the Grade 3 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle – a renowned Champion Hurdle trial – and Rippling Ring is likely to regain the winning thread in this extended two-mile contest.
Rippling Ring was a former near top-class flat horse in South Africa and Paul Nicholls’ charge can avenge a most disappointing fifth-placed effort on his return to action at Aintree by beating Franchoek here.
Cool Operator should justify the lengthy trek southwards from Howard Johnson’s Co Durham stables by landing the Grade 2 Independent Newspaper Novices’ Chase and I’m So Lucky is likely to upstage Lord Henry in the paddypower.com Handicap Chase.
Peter Bowen’s No Panic should attain due reward for his consistency by obliging from Valerius in the Cotswold Style Intermediate Handicap Hurdle. The Paul Nolan-trained Shinrock Paddy meanwhile can augment last month’s facile Gowran Park bumper victory by upstaging McMurrough in the Cheltenham Business Club Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
De Bromhead ‘Sizing’ up Punchestown
PunThere’s additionally plenty of domestic racing action with a two-day weekend fixture at Punchestown whilst enthusiasts also have the option of travelling to Cork on Sunday.
At Punchestown’s Saturday fixture, the ‘Dusty’ Sheehy-trained Trafford Lad is the clear class act in the Grade 3 A Space Cabins Florida Pearl Novice Chase.
Trafford Lad of course finished a fine third behind Fiveforthree in the Grade 1 Ballymore Properties Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival.
The Tragic Role-sired gelding required the intervention of the stewards on his debut over fences in the Grade 3 Buck House Novice Chase over two and a quarter miles as he was beaten a short head into second place by Rare Bob.
Trafford Lad was however awarded the race in the stewards’ room and the likelihood is that he will continue on his merry way by disposing of Siegemaster.
Freds Benefit holds outstanding prospects in the Event Centre Handicap Chase. On his final start last season, Willie Mullins’ son of Beneficial won a two and a quarter mile novice chase with Ruby Walsh at the Punchestown festival. Freds Benefit is a horse with a serious turn of foot and the drop down in trip to two miles is therefore unlikely to inconvenience him and he’s taken to dismiss Jamies Choice.
Enda Bolger should continue his dominance of cross-country races by saddling Garde Champetre to triumph from stable companion L’Ami in the Event Power Risk Of thunder Chase and Willie Mullins’ Cadspeed can vindicate his third-placed debut effort at Clonmel last month by returning to the coveted number one slot from Dunguib in the Gain Stars Of Tomorrow (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.
Local Knockeen-based handler Henry De Bromhead will surely experience a profitable afternoon at Punchestown on Sunday with Sizing Europe and Sizing Africa.
Sizing Europe is of course one of the best hurdlers around at present and he propelled himself into the superstar league with a scintillating eight-length victory in the Grade 1 AIG Europe Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown this past January. Unfortunately, Sizing Europe then failed to justify 2/1 favouritism in the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle ultimately finishing in fourteenth place behind Katchit.
There were however extenuating circumstances behind Sizing Europe’s Champion Hurdle run and the son of Pistolet Bleu is confidently recommended to make a winning return to action here from Jered.
Sizing Africa on the other hand has already had two runs over fences this season, winning both times. It’s safe to say that the six-year-old never even remotely came out of second gear on his most recent start at Cork when beating Dancing Hero by an unchallenged 27 lengths. Sizing Africa should make it three wins over fences here and it seems that Tranquil Sea is the one for the forecast.
John Murphy’s Whatever Next is put forward to triumph from Your Sum Man in the GAA Fundraisers Beginners Chase and Corskeagh Royale is likely to excel from Mick The Man in the I.N.H. Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Maiden Hurdle.
At Cork, Here Comes Sally will surely go close in the featured Blackwater Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles.
Here Comes Sally experienced the best possible conclusion to last season by winning a €30,000 handicap hurdle at the Punchestown festival and Paul Pierse’s mare made a quite satisfactory return to action by finishing eleventh behind Kirbybroguelantern over two and a half miles at Naas on October 25th. Here Comes Sally is confidently recommended to build on that display here by claiming the scalp of Red Vinto.
Adrian Maguire’s recent Galway victor Mr Warbucks is taken to claim the scalp of See U Bob in the Mitchelstown Hurdle and Preswell Lad, a close relation to King George VI Chase winner Wayward Lad, is definitely the one for the ‘getting-out stakes’ in the Killetra Pro/Am INH Flat Race.