Only one place to start and stay this Sunday with a simply majestic card at the Co Meath track. We start off with a look at the Royal Bond Novices Hurdle which is a grade one and won in the past two years by Jezki and The Tullow Tank. Today’s renewal see the current Supreme Novices favourite make his first appearance over the smaller obstacles. He was a decent yardstick in France and comes here with a big reputation. Willie Mullins has pitched him in here first time up which shows how highly he is thought of. However saying that the price is unattractive for a first time out horse in a grade one. While he may turn out to be the best of these I am going to oppose him today.
Nicholas Canyon is the Mullins second string on bookings and the former Gosden horse won as he liked last time at Cork however this is harder with his jumping in much need of improvement is opposed.
The selection is Princely Conn, who at current prices is the current outsider of the field but is not without his chance. He flopped last time out in a Grade 3, however I don’t feel that was his true running. It seemed an after thought since winning his maiden well. The interesting form is over bumpers for this JP McManus horse, he finished a head behind Sheamus who has since gone on to win a couple of nice events. Also has form with Black Hercules, Windsor Park, Vigil and Emerging Talent. All of which reads very well. Hopefully he will come on for the experience and can run a big race. Given there are only seven runners, in which I refuse to back e/w, he is taking for win purposes at a big price.
Of the remainder Tandem could be best for Dermot Weld, he was well backed at the Galway festival and finished behind Draco on that occasion who reopposes today. he should reverse them placings at least today.
Princely Conn (WIN)
Next Grade one on the card is the Hatton Grace over two and a half miles. This race was supposed to be the starting point of the super mare Annie Power however she was found lame, so favourite is the admirable Zaidpour. Just at a shade of odds on, he is a twice grade one winner, winning this race two years ago. He likes the track and should be involved, but at the price he is overlooked.
Little King Robin is an admirable mare and ran a fine race behind Hurricane Fly and Jezki, She would have a great chance however given how long she has been kept going, she will be passed over this time, with the ground not sure to suit.
Jetson will forever be infamous for lowering the colours of Quevega at the Punchestown festival, however the half brother to Jezki is not clear to confirm that he is up to the level and may have just caught Walsh and McCoy watching each other.
Preference is for Lieutenant Colonel who needs to step up here but has course and distance form, he reverts back to hurdles after finishing second in beginners chase. But his hurdle form is top class behind all the top novices last year and should take some beating.
Lieutenant Colonel (WIN)
What a cracking renewal of the Grade One Drinmore Novice Chase over two mile four. The first four in the market look the main ones to focus on and it would be disappointing to see another win.
The Tullow Tank is a worthy favourite and should take all the beating. He won here on chase debut beating the well fancied Mala Beach that day. This is probably the best beginners chase form in Ireland. A grade one winning hurdle whose only defeat came behind the all conquering Vautour at Leopardstown. The Tullow Tank, named after Irish Rugby player Sean O’Brien, wasn’t 100% right that day when losing his unbeaten record and should continue his progression today.
As mentioned the main dangers are towards the fore in the market. Valseur Lido beat Champange James well the last day, however it turns out the later had an injury that day so I am unwilling to take the form on face value.
Apache Stronghold was impressive at Down Royal on chase debut but that form has been let down in a subsequent beginners chase on Saturday where the second was poor.
At bigger prices, if a few of the protagonists fail to fire, Aerlite Supreme and Followmeuptocarlow may run into a place but in truth I can’t see past The Tullow Tank for win purposes.
The Tullow Tank (WIN)