Starting off with such promise over fences this season, JETSTREAM JACK is surely capable of better than what he has been showing in recent times. Rated 135 over hurdles, the seven year old won on chasing debut at Tipperary before posting an improved effort to finish second behind A Toi Phil and ahead of Disko in a Grade 2 at Punchestown in November. He hasn’t gone on from that however and was subsequently well beaten on three runs since, though showed that he was perhaps returning to form when third at Navan last month. The ground was firmly against him in that run and a return to less taxing ground should be ideal, with the overwhelming thought in our heads being that he can do better this time around. Davy Russell will give him a peach for Gordon Elliott and the fact he remains on the same mark as that latest run may well be generous of the handicapper.
Perhaps the most intriguing runner in the race is Willie Mullins’ Polidam, who will be making his Irish debut today for the trainer after spending all of his career thus far in France with the Chaille-Chaille yard. He has been a very productive runner for that stable, running well at a good level, winning a competitive conditions chase at Auteuil in October before going close in a listed race at the same venue in November. He’s also posted some good efforts over hurdles so perhaps an opening mark in Ireland of 137 could be quite generous, as he’ll stay the trip strongly and he could improve for the better ground on offer here. Ruby Walsh takes the ride which speaks volumes and he could well be too well handicapped to ignore.
Although he’s not been at his best since returning with a win over Cue Card in the Charlie Hall Chase, Irish Cavalier is starting to look to well handicapped to ignore. Since that gritty victory over Menorah and Cue Card in October, he’s mainly been disappointing, with perhaps his best effort being a fifth in the Ascot Chase where he was still well beaten. In the Topham Chase on his latest start he wasn’t necessarily disgraced when eleventh, but does need more this time around, with the handicapper dropping him another pound. A return to these fences should help and he’s a strong stayer at this trip, with a mark of 155 still only 2lb above his mark when winning this race twelve months ago. He has definite place claims under regular rider Paul Townend and has to be respected.
Although he’s not been the most consistent this season, Rightdownthemiddle looks likely to throw down a very strong challenge off this mark for Gordon Elliott. He was a good seventh at Leopardstown earlier this season in a Grade A handicap and although he pulled up on his return to fences after a hurdling one, he ran a good race to be a clear second behind Sizing Coldelco at Aintree in a listed race. Back over the Irish Sea he is now 5lb below that mark which makes him very interesting with conditions to suit and this drop back in trip perhaps in his favour. He has the services of Jack Kennedy for this and he should be going close if getting a clear round off this mark.
A lot of these have had tough seasons, so the lightly raced and potentially fresher Vintage Vinnie could have a role to play for Rebecca Curtis and Jonathan Moore. A good third in a tricky looking race at Newton Abbot earlier in the season, the eight year old hasn’t necessarily been disgraced the last twice when midfield in two runs at Aintree, the latest of those in the Topham where he only weakened towards the last. He has been lowered 3lb in the handicap as a result and he should find this somewhat easier, back over regulation fences with conditions to suit. He has definite place claims at a decent price and wouldn’t be an overly surprising winner looking at the best of his form.