Not a great day yesterday. I had an antepost wager on Impaire Et Passe at 10/1, but it was in the "Supreme" hurdle and not the "Ballymore"; just as I had an antepost wager on the Supreme winner Marine Nationale at 25/1, but it was in the Ballymore - right horses, wrong races! Hats off to The Real Whacker winning the "Broadway" chase from the front, but in doing so he beat Gerri Colombe into 2nd (he probably should have been in the NH Chase over 3m6f); while my antepost on Thyme Hill was well off target. In the Coral Cup h'cap hurdle, Fil Dor didn't enjoy the experience at all and dropped-out mid-race. Like a lot of people, I was sucked into the Edwardstone camp for the QMCC, but the writing was on the wall early, and Energumene has now won this prestigious race twice without having a decent blow. I made no selection in the Grand Annual, but Thyme White (on my shortlist) was going well when falling 2-out.
So, we go into the third day with Mighty Potter needing to win the "Turners" to complete a £10 win double with Arkle winner El Fabiolo.
1:30pm Turners Novice Chase over 2m4f
Based on the form this season, Mighty Potter looks much the best horse in this line-up. The only chink in his form is his failure to complete in the Supreme Hurdle last season. His rivals today don't look good enough to beat him unless Mighty Potter underperforms. The British-trained Balco Coastal (Henderson) and Stage Star (Nicholls) may be the ones to give the fav most trouble. Stage Star ran a tremendous race here on Trials Day in January, but before that you would not have considered him capable of winning this race, and I think he needs to find another 10lb of improvement. I like Balco Coastal, as he won a decent handicap at Kempton on his 2nd chase race, and was just outstayed by Gerri Colombe LTO, and that form looks strong. He would be my eachway selection at 12/1. The Irish trained Appreciate It and Banbridge both don't look good enough.
2:10pm Pertemps Final handicap hurdle over 3-miles
What a cracking race this is, and we found the winner at 25/1 last year. It takes an exception horse to win this race with more than 11st to carry, but this years' race looks weaker than usual, so we may get a strong show from Walking On Air on 11:5 who was a late qualifier winning LTO in Feb. However, my money is on The Changing Man a 6yo who is improving with every run, travels strong and stays 3-mile well, and he's won on soft ground - he's 25/1 with Bet365, and 22's elsewhere (6-places, 5th odds).
Selection: THE CHANGING MAN - £5 eachway @ 25/1 (6-places, 5th odds a place)
2:50pm Ryanair Chase over 2m5f
This should be a shoo-in for Shishkin, as he is easily the best of these. Shishkin is probably the the equal of Energumene even now after his health problems, and I cannot see anything coming close. All my antepost doubles etc involving the horse have gone down (although I did post on 31Dec that readers should include him in doubles & trebles as he was available at odds of 8/1 for the Ryanair Chase) so, what can follow him home? I think it will be Fury Road and Envoi Allen who will battle it out for 2nd & 3rd; and I shall have a couple of straight-forecasts with Shishkin to win and that pair to be 2nd. Both stay the trip and more, but this trip is probably their best; and both have run well at the Festival in previous years.
3:30pm Stayers' Hurdle over 3-miles
This years race is a tricky affair. Most of the trials during the season have been indifferent races, always excuses for one horse or another. Flooring Porter has won this race for the past couple of years, and readers of the blog know that - we've been on him both times! However, in the run-up to winning those races he'd posted performances at around 160 (he's rated OR164), and this season he's run a couple of poor efforts below 150. If Gavin Cromwell has brought him here in top-form, he will prove tough to beat. Teahupoo has his ground, and showed when winning the Hatton's Grace (Honeysuckle was 3rd) that he's a high-class 3-miler. Come the race, the weather forecast is heavy rain this afternoon, which is reminiscent of when Klassical Dream won the Supreme in 2019, so he should cope today, and he goes well off a long break. If there's one trainer who can bring a horse to win a race like this off a long break, it's Mullins, so I'm very interested in this one at odds of 9/1 (with Bet365, 4-places 5th odds). I've already advised an eachway antepost wager on French-trained Gold Tweet, and I won't put anyone off having and eachway punt on him at 11/1 (Bet365), although I cannot see him winning today. I don't think Blazing Khal is good enough on form to be the 2nd-fav, and Home By The Lee found nothing when asked in this race last year. For me, the winner is one of Flooring Porter, Teahupoo and Klassical Dream, and though it pains me to do it, at the odds and based on this season's form, I'm advising an eachway wager on Klassical Dream to be the recipient of some Mullins magic, with a "saver" on Flooring Porter, just in case.
Selection: KLASSICAL DREAM - £5 eachway @ 9/1 (Bet365, 4-places, 5th odds)
plus: FLOORING PORTER - £3 win @ 11/2 (available generally)
4:10pm Plate handicap chase 2m4f & 127yds
This looks a difficult race to fathom, especially as the weather looks awful this afternoon, heavy rain. This can go to a rank outsider, but the winner is usually well supported in the market. I was very impressed by both Il Ridoto and Fugitif when they battled-out the finish over C&D on Trials Day here in January, and of the pair I think Fugitif looks primed to run well in this race and odds of 10/1 (Bet365, 6-places, 5th odds) look fair; but I can't recommend a wager in what looks a competitive race.
I'm going to give the Mares hurdle a miss, and go straight to the:
5:30pm Kim Muir (amateur riders) h'cap chase over 3m2f
Jockeyship is very important in this race, and any horse ridden by JJ Codd (who has won this 4 times) has to be considered. As such, Duboyne trained by Gordon Elliott and recently 2nd in the Thyestes Chase in Ireland is one to note. Also note Angels Dawn who was fav for the Grand National Trial in Ireland LTO but unseated his rider mid-race when going well. Different jockey today, and he can go well in this race. I also like the other Elliott-trained runner, Ballykeel who has been aimed at this race for some time. He has a decent jockey on board as Mr Swan has won 10 races for Elliott and odds of 25/1 (6-places, 5th odds) or 33/1 (PaddyPower, 5-places, 5th odds) look fair. There will not be many finish this race I reckon, and I'm happy to take the 33/1, for a small wager.
Selection: BALLYKEEL - £5 eachway @ 33/1 (PaddyPower, 5-places, 5th odds)
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