Sunday brings a nice couple of jumps cards. In the UK there’s Huntingdon and Carlisle. Over in Ireland there’s meetings in Cork and Naas. Cork has their feature race of the Cork Grand National today so we’ll be dipping into that for some value.
The opening contest at Cork is a 2 mile maiden hurdle. There’s some nice lines of form to follow for favourite TIGER VOICE.
Returning over timber last month he seemed to get unlucky and bumped into a smart one in Janidil. The 2 had pulled 27 lengths clear of the rest of the field. The 1/3 favourite that day Janidil took the contest by 2.75 lengths. A distance that may have been shorter if Tiger Voice had been a little bit more fluent at the final flight. The form’s had an immediate nice boost as Janidil went in again yesterday in a handicap hurdle at Down Royal. You’d assume that Tiger Voice only has to run to the same level again to take a contest like this. There’s nothing as smart in this race as the rival he bumped into last time.
The selection did have a spin over hurdles as a 3yo, in a couple of juvenile hurdles including the one that was won by Band Of Outlaws. It would seem that he’s come along a lot since then and another summer under his belt would have brought him on physically. Main competition in the field is looking like second favourite Arthurian Flame. Hailing from the Joseph Patrick O’Brien yard this 98 rated flat recruit could be a smart one if he takes to jumping. It’s a bit of a gamble to take making the assumption he’ll make a smooth transition to hurdles but O’brien has been quite successful with his duel purpose yard over the last couple of seasons. JJ Slevin takes the ride and it’s one keeping an eye on for future endeavours if he fares well today.
It’s the usual 100 runner clutter from an Irish hurdle. There’s a strong looking one at the top of the market and if he runs to the form he’s already shown he’s going to be very difficult to beat.
Coming back over to the UK for a Class 2 handicap hurdle in Carlisle. Rapid improver AYE RIGHT is the attention grabber here as he took his tally to 5-11 over hurdles. He won his seasonal reappearance in a 21 furlong race at Kelso. That was a class 2 affair where the selection was lugging around top weight. He made all that day under Dickie Johnson and the handicapper gave him another 5lbs for his troubles.
Blow By Blow being entered makes this contest a little more interesting. He’s pulled up in his 4 of his last 6 starts but comes in off a mark of 147 here and is the highest rated horse. This spares Aye Right a little and gives him a cary weight of 11st6lbs. With top weight going elsewhere and despite the extra 5lbs the handicapper lumped him with we should expect another bold bid from this Aye Right.
There is a few interesting rivals to note in this race. Bordeaux Bill is a class 2 hurdle winner and comes here only 4lbs heavier than his last win. The only issue with him is he tends to need his comeback run and although his stable are in fine form he’ll need to blow away the summer cobwebs. Crixus’s Escape is the other runner of note. Winning a class 3 event when last seen back in March. He won by 5 lengths at a big price and shoulders an extra 6lbs for his efforts. It’s a bit harsh considering he was gifted the race by a leader falling at the last and leaving him in the clear. This one has won off a break before and if fully wound up could be dangerous off a low looking mark of 128. It’s if he can prove himself as a class 2 horse. His last run in this company yielded a 7th of 9 and he was 4lbs lower than today’s rating.
There’s a few dangers in the field but if Aye Right continues his upward curve, the cover provided by Blow By Blow should help him nail in a 3rd successive win.
The 5th race at Cork is the Cork Grand National. A 3.5mile handicap chase to test some of the Irish long distance horses. With only 16 runners it’s not too cluttered to dissect. I’m quite keen on one here for the Mullins Yard. He tends to just pick up these kinds of races. He only sends one in this race and that is PONT AVEN. It’s quite interesting that Willie would only saddle one in such a race.
The line of form that drawing me to this one is winning a race just over 3 miles by 28 lengths. He was a short price favourite for that run but did it easily and drew clear with minimal effort. He still looked like he had plenty in the tank off that run so the 3.5 mile slog here looks achievable. He made his seasonal return in September and was headed on the run in on a 3 mile chase. This has given him the handicap rating of 134 and he’s nice and unexposed to go and take a race like this. A small break of 39 days and he should be raring to go off the back of that run.
There’s obviously a few interesting ones in here with Out Sam being last year’s winner and he only comes in 4lbs higher for this year’s effort. He has to be respected but his form has tailed off since that victory. Cloudy morning showed he has an engine winning a 3 mile 7 furlong handicap chase. That was off a mark of 117 and he’s a massive 12lbs heavier here. Running 8 days ago isn’t ideal either for this sort of marathon coming up. He had a spin over hurdles to sharpen him up and protect his chase mark. If he can back up quickly he will still likely be plugging along in the late stages of the race.
There’s a few in there with chances but the handicapper might have already had his say over their efforts. Pont Aven is the relative unknown here and being so unexposed against rivals he could be a good one to be on at a nice price of 7/1.
Rounding out Sunday’s selections with a trip to Huntingdon and the second division of their Handicap Hurdle. 19 days ago JIMMI CHEW made all in a course and distance effort on his seasonal return. That gives him a justified favouritism to do the same thing again off a 6lb higher mark.
The selection may only have won by a short head for his last victory but him and second place For Jim had pulled 18 lengths clear of 3rd place. He gets the same conditions today. If he gets a nice soft lead again he’s going to be hard to peg back from the front. He went 4 lengths clear turning for home last time but just seemed to idle in front late on and clattered 2 out. He started to wander around before the last as tiredness was probably making it’s mark. He was joined by a rival in the last 100 yards and clung on gamely to seal the win. He showed a real bit of determination to hold his lead under late pressure when clearly very tired. He galloped them into submission last time and there’s very little to suggest he won’t do the exact same thing again.
The concern in the field is handicap debutant Peter’s Portrait. Finishing 3rd behind Diomede Des Mottes back last month by 24 lengths doesn’t look fantastic. He’s relatively unexposed though and could put in a bold effort despite carrying top weight. This race is looking weaker than the one that Jimmi Chew won last time. With only 1 clear rival in the market and his price hardening all the time it’s easy to think that the 6 year old will repeat his last win in similar fashion.