By News Team
5th February 2021
It’s the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown with Grade 1s on the card, while there is some good action across the Irish Sea at Sandown as well as at Musselburgh in Scotland.
Nick Luck has run through it all for us at William Hill.
PADDY’S POEM can land a nice prize in the TV opener at Sandown on Saturday (1.15pm). He loves this track, goes okay on the ground, and ran exceptionally well on his comeback behind Ibleo (good winner since). He raced prominently on a searching pace that day and may feel less heat on the front end this time in receipt of bundles of weight at 11/2.
HITMAN receives a bit of weight from main rivals Messire Des Obeaux and Shan Blue in the Scilly Isles (1.50pm) and he can make the age allowance count at 11/4. This intermediate trip looks spot on, and there was very little in his Henry VIII defeat to dissuade me that he was a possible star in the making. The smart mare Dame De Compagnie might give him most to think about.
YALA ENKI, at 8/1, is a sporting alternative to the front of the market in the Cotswold Chase (2.20pm). He’s hard as nails, stays forever, won’t mind how bad the ground gets and gets a chunk of weight from most of his rivals. The other key point is he’s very effective going right-handed with the fences coming up thick and fast, while the principals all have a marked preference for going the other way round.
ALNADAM can bounce back after his Kempton disappointment in a tricky handicap (2.55pm) up next at 4/1. He’s a fair bit less exposed than most of these and, although he is a fair bit higher than when winning here before Christmas, that was a really competitive race which has worked out well. Kempton didn’t suit last time and this track and ground are much more up his street for a yard in sparkling form.
KILTEALY BRIGGS looks to have found a very good spot if he opts for the Masters (3.30pm) rather than going to Wetherby. He has way more room for improvement upped to this trip relative to most of his rivals, and I like that he’s been in pretty deep against classy horses. He’ll find the rhythm of this a whole lot easier and I fancy him quite strongly at 11/2.
MIN can upset his better fancied stablemate Chacun Pour Soi in Leopardstown’s Dublin Chase (1.35pm). Nobody close to the two horses would normally countenance the idea, particularly after last year’s race, but the key for me is the ground. Min goes on just about anything – and Leopardstown soft will be ideal – but Chacun is all speed to my eye and it is no coincidence that his sporadic and brilliant appearances at the top level have been on a good or yielding surface. Patrick Mullins will have no shortage of belief in the bankable Min, and I fancy a minor shock here at 9/2.
SALDIER might be another Rich Ricci/Willie Mullins second string to upset the applecart in the Irish Champion Hurdle (3.15pm). A horse with issues, he nonetheless has a stack of ability, as he showed when all over Espoir d‘Allen when falling at the last a couple of years ago. He looked badly in need of the run when fancied on his comeback and is a decent enough price here at 11/1 on ground he will enjoy.
SAINT XAVIER is a horse that interests me in the Edinburgh National at Musselburgh (3.45pm). He’s an old hand, but he ran a really sound race at Kempton last time where he left the impression that this marathon trip on reasonably decent ground might be right up his street. I’ve got a lot of time for his trainer, who I think might have found the key here with blinkers applied.