There’s just one place to be this Saturday and that’s at Down Royal for the annual renewal of the Grade 1 JNwine.com Champion Chase.
In what promises to be a truly fascinating renewal of this race, the 2007 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kauto star will be having his first start outside of Britain since he joined Paul Nicholls’ Somerset stable and The Listener will be amongst his rivals in this coveted three-mile event.
Kauto Star of course was comprehensively outpointed into second place by stable companion Denman in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, the blue riband holder ultimately being beaten some lengths into second place. It can be argued that Denman is a truly outstanding horse and that Kauto Star therefore lost little caste in defeat. Kauto Star is bound to be well forward for this assignment and the French-bred is recommended to possess too many aces for The Listener, now trained by Nick Mitchell but no stranger to success on this side of the Irish Sea.
The main supporting event at the Maze venue is the Grade 3 Killultagh Properties Ltd Chase and it should prove profitable to row in behind Finger Onthe Pulse in this two and a half mile contest.
Finger Onthe Pulse has already a win under his belt this season for the Tom Taaffe-trained gelding made a victorious return to the fray by defeating Holly Tree in a Grade 3 two mile one furlong chase at Limerick earlier this month. Holly Tree paid a compliment to this form by winning over fences at Galway earlier this week and Finger Onthe Pulse should continue on his upward trajectory by showing a clean pair of heels to Noland here.
Mudslinger will surely go close in the William Ewart Properties Handicap Hurdle. This own-brother to former Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Newmill has been in terrific form of late and he failed by just a neck to concede all of 16 lbs to the well-backed De La Rue in a two mile handicap hurdle on his most recent start at Gowran Park in early October having previously won a Bellewstown handicap hurdle in late August. Mudslinger is a most consistent sort that is confidently predicted to regain the winning thread at the expense of the hat-trick seeking Quartino.
Lugato is quite well-treated in the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle and James Lambe’s representative looks likely to see off Mister Lucky whilst former winning point-to-pointer Captain Nash should have most to fear from Mr Gerrard in the Lough Developments Ltd (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.
On Sunday, there’s a top-class domestic programme with the final turf meeting of the flat season taking place at Leopardstown whilst the Grade 3 paddypower.com Cork Grand National Handicap Chase occupies top billing at Cork.
At Leopardstown, P’tit Fute could prove capable of springing a mild surprise in the Leopardstown November Premier Handicap. This Francis Flood-trained gelding posted a truly stellar performance by winning the 2006 GPT amateur riders handicap at Galway.
That may be well and truly past tense by now, but P’tit Fute still showed that he’s an extremely classy sort by sluicing home from Mister Top Notch in the Denny Havasnack (QR) Race at Tralee earlier this month. Whilst P’tit Fute faces a definite rise in class here, he’s still recommended to dispose of Shaun Harley’s stable stalwart Muskatsturm.
Almass fits the profile of a clearly-improving filly and Kevin Prendergast’s three-year-old is the most likely winner of the Knockaire Stakes, a listed race over seven furlongs.
On her most recent start, Almass destroyed the opposition in a listed contest over an extended mile at Cork with the daughter of Elnadim ultimately beating Jalmira by four and a half lengths. It’s quite significant that Almass was raised seven lbs to a new mark of 110 after that performance and she’s likely to continue on her merry way here at the expense of Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Don’t Panic.
Fame And Glory should cap a truly memorable campaign for trainer Aidan O’Brien by obliging from Mourayan in the Eyrefield Stakes and Michael Halford’s Davourin, a creditable sixth on his most recent start at Naas, should claim the scalp of Angels Story in the Ravens Rock Handicap.
Competition meanwhile is likely to be intense in the marathon Grand National Handicap Chase over three and a half miles at Cork and Alickadoo is recommended to triumph at a good price in this coveted Grade C contest.
Trained just seven miles away from Cork racecourse by TJ Nagle at Kilavullen, Alickadoo justified a degree of market support by winning a three mile handicap chase at Gowran Park on his most recent start at Gowran Park on October 4th. The step up to three and a half miles is unlikely to inconvenience Alickadoo and, whilst this race will be by far the most competitive one that he has run in to date, he’s still recommended to dispense with this season’s Kerry National fourth A New Story.
Spiriton should give further credence to the ‘horses for courses’ theory by landing the Grade 3 Dial-A-Bet 1800 721 821 European Breeders Fund Novice Hurdle.
The Paul Cashman-trained Spiriton never even remotely came out of second gear when winning a two mile three furlong handicap hurdle at the most recent meeting here on October 19th. Whilst this will be Spiriton’s initial attempt at three miles, he’s a quite classy horse that formerly won on the flat in his native Germany and he should prove capable of seeing off Glenquin Castle here.
Terence O’Brien’s East Beach should attain a deserved turn by shrugging off Damien’s Oscar in the paddypowertrader.com I.N.H. Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Maiden Hurdle. Zara’s Truce is definitely the one for the ‘getting-out stakes’ in the Irish Foal Levy Mares (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race, a race that could also concern Booley Bay.