Last year’s winner Hunt Ball was arguably the story of The Festival given the parties involved, but what will this year’s renewal bring. Has one been laid out? Probably half dozen have in all honesty, but here we go with a look at the Irish challenge for Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase.
Start by looking at the marks they are running off:
|Sweet My Lord||131||140|
|White Star Line||130||132|
Handicapper has been very kind to a couple of these. Starting off with Alderwood, it looks like we will see him in the Grand Annual as he’s not been tested over the trip nor have connections mentioned a step up in trip.
Buckers Bridge is interesting. He was a dual bumper winner, beating Morning Royalty comfortably at Punchestown on his second start, and has solid form over fences this season. He looked second best on chase debut to Sword Of Destiny before he was awkward at the last, still either way it would have been a commendable performance. Sword Of Destiny was penciled in for the Drinmore prior to the blunder and as such had his target lowered next time out, but this Grade 3 Hurdle winner did it very well next time out. Buckers Bridge did take up his engagement in the Drinmore, but obviously something was amiss as Andrew Lynch eased up early, and he was given a fair bit of time off.
Off the track for 79 days, he came back to form in the Grade 2 Flyingbolt Novice Chase defeating Twinlight in the shadows of the post. Appreciated the testing ground as it brought his stamina into play, he wasn’t beating a back number here. Twinlight is a three time winner over fences, Grade 3 and a Grade 2 amongst those wins, as such it’s no surprise that Henry De Bromhead had ideas of the Jewson:
“He jumped super and battled well. I hope that trip was a bit sharp for him and we’ll step him up a bit in distance.
“He’s entered in the Jewson at Cheltenham. I also put him in the novice handicap chase but he probably won’t be qualified for that now.”
Guess the Jewson plans are now on hold, and it’s not often Henry De Bromhead sees a horse of his on back of a Grade 1 run and Grade 2 Chase win, run off 140 in a handicap.
Carlito Brigante has been laid out for this, and on Irish ratings, he’s 5lb+ before he even gets his favoured spring ground. He won earlier this year on his Chase debut, but it is interesting the post race quotes on Racing Post and Irish Racing:
Carlito Brigante was entitled to win on ratings. We´ll keep him going for the summer, we might run him at the first Cheltenham meeting in October and then leave him off for the festivals next spring – Gordon Elliott
He was entitled to win that on his hurdle rating,. Nothing went right for him last season. He had a wind op after his first run and had to have stitches after Cheltenham. It’s nice to get him back on track. He’ll be kept going during the summer and then left off after the Cheltenham meeting in October. Gordon Elliott
Strange how the Racing Post didn’t report the injury suffered in the Coral Cup, nor the wind op. Anyway his next start was at Perth, and from then his Chase rating has fell 15lb with his last chase start being a fourth to Dynaste at the Paddy Power meet. The race developed into a bit of a sprint, but he was still in with every chance coming down the hill, and he was far from knocked about. Given his usual prep run at Dundalk, it’ll be interesting to know if he has had a wind op this winter. Rightly up there at the head of the market, but short enough for me at 8’s.
White Star Line was the closest challenger to Hunt Ball last season, which given what winner has done since is no mean feat, and this year he’s off a 3lb lower mark. Last season he was showing fair form against decent types, this year he’s been campaigned over staying trips, and not exactly firing, but his final start showed promise. Not knocked about, he stayed on nicely after the rider let the race develop around him and trainer was quick to confirm that this race was the target once again. Note only 14 fences were jumped contrary to the 17 stated in the Racing Post results.
With a Field Safety Limit of 20, he will need a little luck to get in as currently listed 45 and Toner D’Oudairies will need a little bit more as he’s is listed 61.
Tuesday I will have a closer look at the UK charge.