For my first selection today we head to Thurles for a conditions chase run over two miles and two furlongs.
I think that this looks a race that surrounds Rubi Light and the Charles Byrnes trained Arnaud. Now that the weights have been released for the Aintree Grand National, I think there is a strong possibility that we might see some much better showings from Rubi Light. The ten year old produced probably his best run over fences in some considerable time, when second to Turban last time out over two furlongs farther. If that race was run over today’s trip he would more than likely have held on as he was caught late in the day. If connections decide to adopt the same aggressive front running tactics here, he could be a hard horse to peg back.
The biggest opposition to the favourite here should come from the Charles Byrnes trained Arnaud. The seven year old produced some decent performances when first sent over fences but has been somewhat of a disappointment since. While the seven year old did produce his best run this season on his last start, if we see a more assured performance from Rubi Light here Arnaud is going to have to improve a great deal. Even though Arnaud has winning form on today’s surface, I think he is probably better on a sounder surface.
The two remaining runners here look like they will be fighting out for third unless first time blinkers see Irish Thistle improve a great deal.
Rubi Light (WIN)
For my second selection today we head to Taunton for a four runner affair over two miles and half a furlong.
Heading the betting is Whispering Harry who arrives here seeking a hat trick of wins over fences. The 6yo ran out a very narrow winner over course and distance on his last start and I have a feeling that the handicapper might be starting to get a hold of him. On paper he does look handicapped up to his best now and while he might be open to more improvement, I think that one of the others looks like he might be better handicapped.
The one that I like in this is top weight Swaledale Lad who is long over due another win over fences. The 8yo was narrowly denied at Mussleburgh last time out by an improving sort and I don’t think he meets the same caliber of horse in this contest. Some of the early form that he showed over fences would suggest that there could be the best part of a stone improvement to come from him. He is a solid jumper and if himself and Whispering Harry don’t cut each others throats for lead, the gelding looks the one they all have to beat in this contest.
The only other runner in this you could give a serious chance to is the Ben Case trained Cookstown who also comes here on the back of a narrow defeat. The 8yo only has his fifth start over fences here and while open to more improvement, I don’t think he is as well handicapped on paper as the selection.
Swaledale Lad (Win)
For my last selection today we head back to Ireland for some Grade 2 action over two miles and four furlongs.
I think Milsean looks the one they all have to beat here as he looked to be running out an easy winner on his last start, but just seemed to run out of stamina. It was probably an expedition to see if the horse was Albert Bartlett bound or Neptune bound. With that in mind he should welcome the drop in trip here and looks the one that they all have to beat as he easily brings the strongest hurdles form in to this contest.
The selection probably has most to fear from another Gigginstown inmate in the shape of Sub Lieutenant. The 6yo steps back down in grade here having contested two Grade 1 events, in his last two starts. This also represents a new trip for the son of Brian Boru and it just might see him improve for the step up. It’s hard to read who is the stronger of the Gigginstown representatives at times, as they have won with their second string on a number of occasions this season.
The remainder in the lineup are going to have the show major improvement to trouble the two Gigginstown inmates, with Fine Article appealing most.