Race Time: 2.10pm Meeting: Down Royal Day: Saturday 31st October
Distance: 2m 4f Full Race Name: Powers Irish Whisky Chase (Grade 2)
What a cracker of a race (that belongs on the TV in our view), with some top class early entries luckily reflected in an intriguing line up, although not quite as strong as we would have hoped. As the market shows, it’s set to be a head to head between Clarcam (5/4) and Ptit Zig (11/8) and both have their pluses and minuses, but both should be too good for the rest of the field.
Clarcam, to be fair, looks like the one they may all have to beat, with the two and a half mile trip perhaps more to his liking than some of his market rivals. Wins at Limerick, Navan, and Aintree announced him as a better than average prospect, and he also has the added edge of a recent run to put him straight for today when third at Gowran Park. That wasn’t the best of runs, sent off at 7/2 though, and it does suggest the door has been left open.
We’re glad Paul Nicholls has sent over Ptit Zig and not Saphir De Rheu for this, and we think that he can barge his way through that open door with hopefully some better jumping than he showed last season. Still only a six year old he goes well fresh and won some decent races at Ascot and Cheltenham last season but didn’t run up to expectations at the Festival when only sixth to Vautour, and they think he is a lot better than that bare form at home. Reported to be schooling well at home in Somerset and ready to return to the track, this could yet prove to be his make or break season as they decide his best trip and future targets but make no mistake, he is a class act. Given he gets a 2lb allowance from Clarcam, we think that Cheltenham run would be enough to put him right up there today, and he carries the best form in the field with excellent wins in the Dipper Novices’ Chase and the Mite Novices’ Chase back in winter of last year. The ground won’t be an issue for him whatever it comes up and even with the fitness benefit Clarcam carries we’d much rather be on the English raider.
Wounded Warriors & Devils Bride both looked likely to run here, but neither has been declared, and the only horse other than the front two which isn’t 100/1 is Shanahan’s Turn. We thought he may appeal to Each Way thieves given he won the Galway Plate off a mark of 142 and is miles clear of anything else in the field (aside from the front two of course) but the bookies aren’t stupid and odds of 13/2 lasted for about 3 minutes before being cut into 5/1 – so you can get your money back if he places. He’s a good horse, and deserves to pick up some nice prize money, but he shouldn’t be winning this and we imagine his win only price will be far, far higher than 5/1.
We won’t waste time talking about the outsiders too much, other than to drop a couple of hints for who might finish 4th – exciting right? Shadow Catcher won a novice chase two weeks ago, beating Guitar Pete, but his official rating of 133 reflects his level of ability fairly accurlatey and he’s far from unexposed having four runs chasing already (three seconds and a win), all to around the same level. Even with a 11lb allowance from Clarcam we just can’t have him winning. The other three we aren’t even going to spend the times writing their names out, with ratings from 113 right down to 81, they’d need to start at the same time as the 1.40 to have a chance of winning this…