An extremely competitive day at Leopardstown on Boylesports Hurdle day which hopefully will beat the weather. We start with a two-mile four maiden hurdle.
Fletcher was a big eye-catcher for me finishing nine lengths behind Windsor Park in a maiden over course and distance over the Christmas period. He was held up out the back that day and was never nearer than at the finish. He travelled promisingly throughout. Davy Russel takes over in the saddle which must be a positive and should improve for that outing as he hadn’t been seen since March prior to that run. He is the current favourite and looks like he will be tough to beat.
AP McCoy is over for a good book of rides. His first one comes in this race on the second favourite for Noel Meade and boss JP McManus. This Oscar gelding has very view miles on the clock for a seven-year old and this will only be his fourth run under rules. If he retains the ability of finishing second behind Just A Par in 2012 he will surely have a chance.
The two newcomers are the most interesting runners coming from strong connections of Gordon Elliot and Aidan O’Brien. The formers horse Champione is well-bred and would have to have a chance in what may not be the strongest event. Given the trainers record with first time out horses, any market support would be key and a chance is taken that he prove best despite his lack of experience.
Mentor for Aidan O’Brien is also interesting however the yard struggle in both codes with horses first up and he may just need the experience.
Champione (E/W if 5/1 +)
Next up we tackle the Boylesports Hurdle with a full twenty-five runners due to go to post. Won impressively by Gilgamboa last year and its more JP McManus that lead the market this year. UK raider Snake Eyes for Nicky Henderson leads the market with AP booked. He finished sixth in this race last year and off a five-pound higher mark he should run his race again. However there should be better handicapped horses in this race.
Waxies Dargle has come in for support in the Ante Post market. Noel Meades charge runs here off the same mark as winning last time at Fairyhouse. He is improving but this may be too much.
Kate T, Rock The World and Shantou Ed are all linked in with a previous run that the later won over course and distance. He may struggle to confirm that form at revised weights with Kate T the most likely beneficiary and she should strip fitter for her previous run. Rock the World is improving however another hike in the weights may anchor him. However with Barry Geraghty booked should not be dismissed.
Sea Beat for Arthur Moore and Clondaw Warrior for Willie Mullins, both trainers have excellent records in this race, ran below par in the Ladbroke last time out and will need to improve to get involved.
The selection is Follow The Sign, He ran a cracking race to only be caught late on over slightly further last time at this venue. He was collared close home with the winner confirming the form with a good run at Naas yesterday. Oliver McKiernan has had his horses in great form without getting the results. Shane Cremin takes an additional seven off and with a feather weight he should go close dropped in trip at a price.
Follow The Sign (E/W)
We finish the day with a three-mile seventeen runner handicap. Mydor is the market leader for Tony Martin and Ruby Walsh, he is sure to go off a short price and does appear well handicapped given his easy win at Fairyhouse. However he is up a net thirteen pounds for that run without the benefit of Shane Shortall’s claim. This event is much more competitive for a horse who struggles to win off sub a hundred marks, he is far too short in the mark et.
Useful Smurfer won last time out he also is subject to a hike in the weights and will need to carry a heavy load today on what is sure to be testing conditions. He had been out chasing and prior to the switch back to hurdles. His marks are now in line with each other and may struggle to win again in the near future.
Mireya and Theatre Bird both ran in a Grade Three Mares hurdle over Christmas, they were well beaten that day and this is more their level.
The selection is Ravished who absolutely hacked up at Limerick over Christmas. Bryan Cooper takes over for retained owners Gigginstown today, he is up significantly in the weights however is open to improvement back over hurdles. This son of Oscar once finished fourth in a maiden hurdle behind Champion Hurdle winner Jezki. While clearly not as good he is taken to improve past his current mark.
Ravished (E/W if 4/1+)