2.00pm Lingfield - Kalashnikov
The excellent jumps card at Lingfield on Sunday is subject to an 8am inspection with prospects in the balance although temperatures were due to hit a barmy 5 degrees on race day.
Two For Gold won the valuable 2m 6f+ Fleur De Lys Chase – Bristol De Mai beaten less than a length in third – last year, and this is likely to have long been the target for Kim Bailey. The same cannot be said of the flying grey who was due to run at Haydock yesterday before that meeting failed to beat the current freeze.
The outsider of the six-runner field is KALASHNIKOV, who was beaten more than 60 lengths at Wetherby in the Roland Meyrick on his first start for almost 648 days on Boxing Day. Amy Murphy fits blinkers on her 10-year-old this afternoon, who may have found the ground quicker than ideal in Yorkshire last time but ran well for a long way.
He should be a different proposition with that run under his belt and gets the each-way vote.
1.40pm Thurles - French Dynamite (Nap of the Day)
I’m looking forward to seeing the imposing Allegorie De Vassy – 6/4 favourite for the Paddy Power-sponsored Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival – in the opening Grade 2 at Thurles, but she will start at very prohibitive odds.
The other Grade 2 on the card, the Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase, is of more interest from a betting medium, which sees the brilliant Chacun Pour Soi step up in trip to an extended two-and-a-half-miles for the first time.
Willie Mullins’ 11-year-old was readily brushed aside when third behind stablemate Blue Lord in a Leopardstown Grade 1 over Christmas when all he did was stay on at one pace. The was no disgrace to be beaten by Blue Lord, but the fact that he couldn’t get past the admirable Captain Guinness was a bit of a concern.
It is almost two years since he had 8L to spare over Fakir D’oudairies over 2m 1f+ at Leopardstown, but we know Joseph O’Brien’s 8-year-old needs this trip, and he is likely to have come on a bundle since chasing home the outstanding Galopin Des Champs in the John Durkan on his reappearance.
Fakir D’oudairies was no match for Allaho in this corresponding race 12 months ago, and I wonder if he will have to play second fiddle again to FRENCH DYNAMITE, who I felt travelled like the best horse in the race in the 3m Grade 1 Savills Chase over Christmas before his stamina gave way.
The return to this intermediate trip will suit him, plus he receives 6lbs from the market leaders - he gets the each-way vote. I appreciate that the form of his Paddy Power second over this trip carrying 11st 6lbs on his penultimate start leaves him with plenty to find with the principles, but he is clearly progressive, and this might be his time.
Do note I will also be looking at the markets without the favourite(s) when they open on race day.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.
Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets