AMERICAN MIKE 13/2 generally – 0.5 POINTS E/W
GRANGECLARE WEST 7/1 generally – 0.5 POINTS E/W
We have 2 selections in this race.
A race which has been won by some good horses over the years and the trip is 2m 6f. The ground will be lovely racing ground with the weather looking good today and then a few showers tomorrow, nothing which will get in the ground too much.
The current favourite here is the Barry Connell trained Good Land who was an impressive winner when winning at Leopardstown back in December. You have to respect any horse trained by Barry Connell as he is a very shrewd trainer but this time I am happy to swerve the horse at the prices, as he is out of maiden company mixing it with some top class horses. He may step up to the plate and be a serious horse but he is up in trip and class and I can find enough negatives to take him on at the prices.
The 2nd favourite is Quais De Paris who is trained by Willie Mullins and this is the horse Paul Townend has chosen to ride. He was a winner at Tramore on New Years Day but he wasn’t that impressive over a trip of 2m. He is now up to a trip of 2m 6f so maybe that is what he wants, but for me I can’t be backing him ahead of some of these as we don’t know he can mix it at this level just yet.
Instead I have opted to play 2 horses each way in AMERICAN MIKE and GRANGECLARE WEST who I believe offer some excellent value.
Starting with AMERICAN MIKE who looked top class last season when winning his first 2 starts in bumpers, before coming home 2nd to Facile Vega in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival and then 3rd to the same horse at the Punchestown Festival.
He made his debut over hurdles at Down Royal in November as an easy 6 length winner over today’s trip of 2m 6f. Admittedly he didn’t jump that well but he went away from a horse called Letsbeclearaboutit who has won since and is now rated 132.
He then went to Navan 3 weeks later and was down in trip and he was beaten into 2nd by Dawn Rising when going off a short priced favourite. That horse has since gone on to finish 3rd in the Grade 1 Lawlors Of Naas Novice Hurdle so the form is actually not that bad.
AMERICAN MIKE didn’t jump great again and looked sluggish coming over the last like something was amiss. He is a horse who now has plenty to prove but I like the fact he has not been seen since November and they have clearly been looking after the horse, so they can bring him back in good condition.
I also can’t get out of my head the way Gordon Elliott has talked about this horse in the past and is the apple in his eye. Given the confidence he has in the horse I am sure he will be chomping at the bit to get him back and prove to everyone that he is still a serious horse.
At the price he is very good value in my opinion and back up in trip and on nicer ground we will hopefully see the real AMERICAN MIKE. E/W.
Our 2nd selection is GRANGECLARE WEST who is trained by Willie Mullins and seemingly his 2nd string. He will be ridden by Danny Mullins and I am hoping they let him lob along in front as there is no better jockey from the front than Danny Mullins. GRANGECLARE WEST was a very impressive winner at Navan at the end of November winning by an easy 13 lengths. He was sent to Naas for the Grade 1 Lawlors Of Naas Novice Hurdle and sent off 15/8 fav. He flopped and could only manage 5th of 8 but he striked me as a horse who wanted to go up in trip, so today’s trip of 2m 6f will be right up his street. I am happy to forgive the horse a bad run and the return to better ground should be appreciated. Would anyone be surprised to see this horse return to form after looking so impressive on debut over hurdles? I wouldn’t and at the prices he also looks like excellent value. He is also sired by presenting so you have to think this better ground will be to his liking. E/W.
WAR LORD 4/1 generally – 1 POINT WIN
You have to think that back down to this level WAR LORD has a great chance of defying top weight and is excellent value. A horse who finished 4th in last year’s Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and this was followed up with an excellent 2nd in the Manifesto Novice Chase at the Grand National Festival. So far this season he has run in the Grade 2 Haldon Cup when 3rd behind Greaneteen and although he was well beaten, Greaneteen is a serious horse so no shame in defeat. Last time out he was pulled up in a competitive handicap on New Years Day at Cheltenham, where he clearly didn’t like the hustle and bustle.
Now back down in class and in a small field, WAR LORD should run a big race here.
His form is much better in smaller fields and when he has run in races with 7 runners or less, his form reads 112123 and it is only in big fields where he has underperformed. He has come down the handicap to a mark of 145 and judging by how well he ran last season, he should be up to winning off this mark against horses who are not in his league. The weight is obviously not ideal but the price is too big to ignore. WIN.
DOLOS 11/4 generally – 1 POINT WIN
This race should be called the DOLOS Handicap Chase as he has won the race 3 times in the last 5 years off marks of 149, 157 and then last year off 143. He was also 2nd in 2021 off a mark of 158 and also 2nd in 2018 off a mark of 144. He is just laid out for this race each and every year and over the last 5 years he has not finished outside the first two, winning the race 3 times. At 11/4 what is there not to like and I am happy to keep it simple. Paul Nicholls has been in amazing form this season and his horses are going great guns. You have to be very very surprised if DOLOS is not involved here. He is rated 146 this time around which is 3lb higher than last year and he once again carries top weight. The fact Harry Cobden takes the ride and they are happy not to use a claimer is another big clue. WIN.