Snow Falcon (WIN)
The next race on the card is a three mile ultra competitive Pertemps qualifier.
At the head of the market is the Tony Martin trained Dara Tango who looks potentially very well treated. The gelding spent two years off the track with an injury but showed that he still retains his ability with two good comeback runs. It is however a big ask to concede weight all round on ground this soft in such a competitive race. With that in mind there looks to be more value in backing one of the others at an each way price.
My main each way fancy in this is Speckled Wood, the mount of AP McCoy. The daughter of Like a Butterfly reverts back to hurdles after a few runs over fences and looks to be on a lenient mark. She runs here of a mark of 128 but looks value for at least 12lbs on the best of her form and the blinkers also go on for the first time. At times she has had a bit of difficulty concentrating on the job and I think she has been in need of blinkers for a while.
One that I like in this at a big price is War of the Penneys who looks like he could be primed for a bold show. The son of Presenting runs off a mark of 114 here but looks to easily have 10-15lbs in hand on the best of his form. The 6yo is reunited with Kevin Sexton having been ridden by a seven pound claimer on his last two starts. Sexton has got on really well with the horse in the three times he has ridden him, winning once and being beaten just a head on another occasion. The cheek-pieces also make an appearance for the first time and this could be a sign that a sudden return to form is imminent.
The best handicapped runner in the lineup on paper is the Tony Martin trained Edeymi. The biggest concern with him is that he returns from a 510 absence and I think he has a preference for a better ground. As long as he retains all ability he is probably a horse to keep in mind for the rest of the season, whatever happens today.
War of the Penneys (E/W)
13:20 Leopardstown Un Atout (WIN)
13:50 Leopardstown The next race on the card is our first Grade 1, the Christmas hurdle run over three miles.
This is a race where four of these are having their seasonal debuts and I think it might be best to concentrate on the runners arriving here race fit.
Heading the market is the enigmatic At Fishers Cross and I think he has been targeted at this race. While he was disappointing on seasonal debut, it would not be the first time that he has done that and he did not look fit that day and a break of 57 days will see him arrive here fully tuned up. I think the key to this horse now is cut in the ground as all bar one of his wins has come on either soft or heavy ground. As long as he jumps adequately here, I think he looks the one they all have to beat.
Jockey arrangements on the two Mullins horses would suggest that Briar Hill may need the run here, unless they are trying to pull a fast one. Zaidpour has always struck me as a very frustrating horse and while he has two wins at three miles, I have always thought he looked so much better at two mile four furlongs. If At Fishers Cross turns up at his best here I think he might struggle to get past him.
The Sandra Hughes trained five year old Lieutenant Colonel is the potential fly in the ointment here as he is open to plenty of improvement. While he has winning form on ground with cut in it, I think he might struggle against this company in it.
As for the remainder in the lineup, Monksland would have a chance but it is a big ask returning from a 710 day absence and hard to know if all ability remains intact.
At Fishers Cross (WIN)
The Herds Garden (E/W)
The penultimate race on the card is the Grade 1 Lexus chase run over three miles.
Heading the market is the Nicky Henderson trained Bobs Worth who has not been seen since finishing a slightly disappointing fourth in last years Gold Cup. This ground will also be the softest ground that he has encountered in his entire career and I think he just might struggle on it,especially as he is having his first run for some considerable time.
Renewing rivalry with Bobs Worth is Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere who put in a decent enough performance on comeback. That run just left the impression that he would come on massively with that experience under his belt. Some may say that last seasons Gold Cup was a below par renewal as some horses ran well below their marks. That might be the case and maybe Lord Windermere is a much better horse than he is being given credit for. I think we will find out a huge amount about this horse here and he just might put in another top performance and people might start taking him seriously.
Boston Bob had his career stalled a bit when he fell at Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals in 2013 and it did take him a while to get over those falls. He has looked a proper horse since he has gotten over them falls and not much separates himself and Lord Windermere on RSA running in 2013. Some may say that Bostob Bob would have held on only for falling that day but I think Lord Windermere was just about to collar him. While he has plenty of winning form on heavy ground, I just think he is a better horse on a sounder surface over this trip. I will probably be kicking myself if he wins this but I am going to overlook him in favour of Jim Cullotys charge.
Of the remainder Road to Riches and Sam Winner are not without a chance but the latter has to prove he is up to winning in this company.
Lord Windermere (WIN)