Race Time: 4.25pm Meeting: Fairyhouse
Full Race Name: Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Novices Hurdle (Grade 2)
In a race dominated by the big names – Walsh, Mullins, A J Martin, A P McCoy, Rich Ricci, John Breslin (the list goes on) – our tip represents rather more modest connections. Well bred, he’s only had 8 runs under Rules, recording two wins. He’s yet to finish out the top 3 in his hurdles starts, but what catches the eye first is his National Hunt Flat form. He gave 4lb to Noble Endeavor as a 4 year old and was beaten just 8 lengths; that winner is our tip for the Grade 2 Hurdle earlier on the card. Given that form is from way back in 2013 (a year and a half ago) we need to find something more recent, and two pieces stand out. He gave Sir Scorpion 7lb in May 2014 before beaten him by a round 13 lengths; that’s the same Sir Scorpion who won a Grade C Handicap today at Fairyhouse off a mark of 112 probably running to a mark of 130+. More recently that that, he was beaten just 2 lengths by the promising Shemshal and fought hard to finish 3rd in a Listed race two months ago.
He’s a very likeable type, who is really coming into his own and improving fast. He’s around 8lb worse off in the weights with Blair Perrone and Max Dynamite, but several of the horses above him are young horses who had hard races at Cheltenham while he comes here fresher. If he can continue his progression (and I can’t see why he won’t) I think there’s definitely more to come and he’ll love the conditions. Last time he ran here he was beaten by Couleur France who has since been competitive in a Grade 2 and a Grade 1 and I don’t think he got home that day over the extra 4f.
Onto the Mullins trained horses: both Rich Ricci owned horses, Sempre Medici and Max Dynamite, take their positions at the head of the betting though it is the former with favouritism, still available to back at the best price of 3/1.
Sempre Medici was last seen completing the Grade Three Vincent O’Brien, performing really rather admirably to take sixth place at a large price of 33/1. With Danny Mullins taking the ride on that occasion, the five-year-old finished just 12 lengths off the eventual winner Wicklow Brave. Whilst it is true that the Medicean-sired horse has yet been unable to live up to the expectation of his eight length debut win over hurdles at Cork, it wouldn’t be true to say that his failure to capture any follow up successes were due to a lack of technique or ability, rather he has run into some really excellent horses. The Mullins mount finished second to Supreme Novices’ finisher Jollyallan at Kempton before coming a-cropper against a superb quality field in the Grade One Deloitte Novices’ Hurdle at Leopardstown. This field included Neptune Investment first and third Windsor Park and Nichols Canyon.
There is no doubt that, rated 142, Sempre Medici is the class horse of this race and will be the one the rest will all be looking to beat come post time. The other Mullins-Ricci collaboration, Max Dynamite, put in a better showing than his stablemate in the Vincent O’Brien but was carrying a burden 7lbs lighter than the Fairyhouse favourite. On terms tomorrow, the Great Journey-sired charge will have to show tremendous improvement to frank this form. In many ways Max Dynamite is a similar character to Sempre Medici, following up a solid flat career with an impressive looking debut over hurdles. Much like his rival, he is yet to live up to this six length Thurles debut that got horse racing trackers so hot under the collar.
Between this initial win and his Festival outing Max Dynamite picked up second in a listed race before bombing in a Grade Two at Naas when the 11/10 favourite. The five-year-old does not have the same excuses as Sempre Medici in terms of coming up against fields so deep and so strong suggesting that he may be punching above his weight when going head-to-head with the charge tomorrow. Max Dynamite can be backed at the best price of 7/1.
Only one horse separates these stable companions in the betting, this being Tony Martin’s more experienced Blair Perrone. The six-year-old has proved himself to be a deadly killer at 2m, beating former Champion Bumper winner Silver Concorde by two lengths at Leopardstown before seeing off Henry De Bromhead’s Domesday Book by over four lengths at Gowran Park. One of three horses rated 138 in this field, the current second-favourite ditches the headgear that accompanied both his victories but is declared to be adorned with a tongue strap. Irish Gold Cup winner A P McCoy rides.
Another former entrant in the Deloitte at Leopardstown, the John Breslin-owned horse can be picked up at the best price of 4/1 across the board.
Of the remaining seven runners, Sandra Hughes’ Phil’s Magic will be looking to continue his run of finishing either first or second in all of his hurdles outings since making his debut at Kilbeggan. He has over six lengths to find on Max Dynamite and is still available at 8/1.
At an even bigger price, Cardinal Palace could be anything after finishing second to Felix Yonger at 18f at Leopardstown on his first and only run over obstacles.