On Saturday, my eyes will be firmly fixed on Gowran Park, where Envoi Allen makes his seasonal return in the Grade 2 Champion Chase. Having won the Ryanair at Cheltenham last year, I think it’s a fairly safe bet that connections will have him headed in the same direction this year.
As we’ve seen previously, he’s usually primed to be at his best for Down Royal and Cheltenham, so it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to me if he does get turned over tomorrow, but it’s great to see him back on the track anyway.
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Beyond the big race at Gowran Park on Saturday, there’s plenty of other interesting Jumps action happening all around the UK, but I’ve managed to narrow it down a bit to bring you five decent selections. Four of those run at Market Rasen and the fifth will try his luck in the last race at Gowran Park.
We get under way with a decent Maiden Hurdle, where I think Casa No Mento will take some stopping. The Twiston-Davies yard are in really good form at the moment and this mare started her racing career by winning on debut for them. It was no fluke either, as she went on to finish a close second in a competitive race at Sandown two months later.
The stable then threw her in at the deep end, by running her in a Grade 2 at Aintree, where she only managed to place tenth out of 20, but she will find this one much more suited to her capabilities. This is a good race for her to make her Hurdles debut and I think she’ll definitely give the field here a run for their money.
The second race at Market Rasen is a Juvenile Hurdle and there are some really nice horses in the line-up. Two Past Eight, running for Alan King, is a rather likeable sort who has two wins at Aintree and Fontwell already to his credit. He sets a decent standard here under a penalty, but perhaps Our Boy Wes is going to be another smart one for the Emmett Mullins team.
He showed decent enough form on the Flat, but he took to Hurdles like a duck to water and won very well on debut. The horse that came second to him that day has gone on to win since, so Our Boy Wes certainly appears to have some potential. In fact, I believe there is a lot more to come from this one and I’m hoping that he will prove me right on Saturday.
The three-miler here looks competitive enough and I’d love to see the 10-year-old Young Wolf go well for the Jonjo O’Neill team, he has been a great horse for connections. But the one that jumps out at me here is Tedwin Hills.
I did put him up once before and although he ended up coming second to a real improver that day, he was clearly the best of the rest. However, a repeat effort of that run would stand him in really good stead in this race. Emma Lavelle is really good at placing her horses right, he is very well-treated here and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t go very close indeed.
There are some very nice sorts running in this Handicap Hurdle and there are plenty in with chances. Castel Gandolfo returned to form last time out and was a little unlucky not to get the job done, so he won’t be too far away, especially so if he gets held up for a bit longer this time. Liverpool Knight, running for Olly Murphy, is a nice progressive type and there will still be a bit of space for manoeuvre off his current mark.
But the one that I fancy the most here is Enthused, who runs for James Owen. He has improved very nicely in his last two starts and has been really strong in his finishes, which is an attractive attribute to have in this race. Although Liverpool Knight is a strong finisher too, when it comes down to it, Enthused runs off a much more lenient Handicap mark here and I think that will be enough to carry him into the winner’s enclosure on Saturday.
The closing race at Gowran Park on Saturday is a Beginners’ Chase and Largy Debut is one that has a decent chance here. To me, he has always looked more like a Chaser than a Hurdler and he’s sure to go well.
That said, I think that Letsbeclearaboutit is a touch classier and definitely looks a little bit more straightforward. He certainly caught my eye last season and I think he will do better the further he goes, but for now, this 2m 4f Chase is a great starting point for him and I think he’ll take some beating here.
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