Stu “Jimbo” Williams
GRADE 1 PREVIEWS:
3.50 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF Annie Power Mares Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m4f
Benie Des Dieux looked home and hosedin the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenhamprior to her final flight departure, however, there’s a very good chance that Willie Mullins’ talented mare will gain ample compensation tomorrow.
Rich and Susannah Ricci’s eight-year-old beat Apple’s Jade amongst others in the corresponding contest 12 months ago and looks to have a more straightforward task this year given that her closest rival is rated just 145. Therefore she may prove very hard to beat if putting in a clear round.
Stormy Ireland and Good Thyne Tara placed second and third respectively in the above mentioned Cheltenham contest and are undoubtedly the biggest threats to their stablemate tomorrow.
The former has chased home both subsequent champion hurdler Espoir D’Allen and high-class mare Laurina this season and stayed on strongly behind Roksana, who has since advertised that form well in Grade 1 company at Aintree, at Cheltenham. While the latter actually placed second behind Stormy Ireland at this venue in November and could easily pick up place money once more.
Gigginstown House Stud representative Tintangle placed third in the Grade 2 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham prior to a fourth placed effort behind the hugely exciting Honeysuckle in Grade 1 company at Fairyhouse 13 days ago.
The form of the latter contest has received significant boost from the runner-up Elfile, who ran out a comfortable 10 lengths winner of a Listed contest on Thursday. However, Gordon Elliott’s mare will still need to find significant improvement in order to feature here.
With Discreation has only made it to the racetrack twice in four years, however she 2-2 under rules and could therefore be anything. She does, however, have to overcome both a year of the track and a lack of experience, which will make her job very difficult given the class of opposition.
Benie Des Dieux is a class above these and should record back-to-back victories in this Grade 1 contest if putting in a clear round. While Stormy Ireland, who has chased home some smart opposition this season, looks the one for forecast purposes.
4.25 – AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m
Fusil Raffles created a deep impression when storming to success in the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton in February, however – frustratingly, he also created a very deep cut when clipping a hurdle in the closing stages and was ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival as a result.
The Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned four-year-old also sidestepped Aintree en route to this meeting and therefore arrives here incredibly fresh compared to the majority of his rivals.
The speed that he displayed at Kempton could prove a lethal weapon here and Nicky Henderson will have a good idea of where he stands with some of these on a line through dual Grade 1 scorer Pentland Hills.
Fakir D’oudaries appeared to be a juvenile hurdler of significant potential when scooting clear to record an impressive 13 lengths success in Grade 2 company on Cheltenham Trials Day, and again displayed definite promise when staying on resolutely to claim a fourth placed finish behind the hugely exciting Klassical Dream in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March.
The JP McManus owned juvenile then gave the aforementioned Pentland Hills a real race at Aintree and only went down by narrowest of margins. Therefore connections will be hopeful of gaining some ample compensation tomorrow.
French Made and Way Back Home placed first and fourth respectively in Grade 2 company at Fairyhouse 12 days ago.
The former was having just his third start for Willie Mullins and was considered good enough to contest the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle following a comfortable three-and-a-half-lenghs success at Clonmel in January. While the latter arrived at Fairyhouse in search of a hat-trick and will hope to bounce back with Robbie Power in the saddle.
Gigginstown House Stud will be represented by both Coko Beach and Surin.
The former ran a big race to place second in the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham and will attempt to make his presence felt in this higher grade. While the latter was last seen chasing home the sadly departed Sir Erec and Gardens Of Babylon in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival, therefore she could easily outrun her price with a handy 7lbs Mares allowance further enhancing her prospects.
French Made and Surin are open to further improvement. While Fusil Raffles looked very smart at Kempton and should go close with freshness on his side. However, FAKIR D’OUDARIESboasts plenty of experience and sets the standard based upon his fourth placed effort in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and subsequent runner-up effort behind Triumph Hurdle hero scorer Pentland Hills at Aintree. Joseph O’Brien’s four-year-old jumps well and knows how to battle – two assets that will stand him in good stead tomorrow. He won’t mind the conditions and could prove tough to beat if none the worse for his heavy spring campaign.
BEST OF THE REST:
5.00 – Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase (Grade B) 3m120y
Acting Lass beat some smart opposition on his first three outings over fences and recorded his latest success off just a 1lb lower mark at Ascot in January 2018.
The lightly raced eight-year-old took to fences like the proverbial duck to water and was sent off a warm 7/2 favourite for the often competitive Grade 3 Betdaq Handicap Chase in February last year. However, it’s fair to say that things didn’t go to plan that day and he could only finish a remote ninth after being held up in rear.
This will be no easy task given that Acting Lass is returning from 434 days off the track. However, he won first time out in each of the last two seasons and will undoubtedly be primed for this valuable prize.
His canny handler struck with the ever-popular Unowhatimeanharry in the Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle on Thursday and often aims a few of his better horses at this fixture. Therefore it would be no surprise to see this promising son of King’s Theatre go very close tomorrow close.
SELECTION: Acting Lass 5/1 – 2pt win (888 Sport)
5.35 – Ballymore Handicap Hurdld (Grade B) 2m4f
Canardier has performed with great credit this spring and arrives here following a fine fifth placed finish in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham and third placed effort in the Grade 3 Merseyrail Handicap Hurdle at Aintree
Dermot McLoughlin’s seven-year-old will compete from just a 1lb higher mark tomorrow but, crucially, will encounter his preferred ground conditions which could make all the difference.
A reproduction of those fine efforts would make him a very lively contender here and he looks an each way bet to nothing with Paddy Power offering 6 places.