Iroquois Racecourse – 10.30pm Saturday
Willie Mullins has stayed true to his word as earlier this year he called for the greater internationalisation of jump racing. He runs both Nichols Canyon (11/10) and Shaneshill in tonight’s $200,000 Iroquois Hurdle in Nashville. The pair of Irish runners dominate the betting for this 3 mile event, which sees a $500,000 bonus for any horse that wins both this race and the World Hurdle at Cheltenham World within a 12 month period.
Free Tip: Nichols Canyon 11/10
Ruby Walsh will ride Nichols Canyon and that must be a telling decision as could have easily swerved for Shaneshill. This is the only horse ever to beat the “Machine” Faugheen and he also looks a horse that has been crying out for a step up in distance after his 27 length third behind Annie Power at Aintree over two and a half miles last month. The ground should be pretty firm here in America tonight so that should suit this horse who also has a very nice turn of foot.
Shaneshill (13/8) warrants plenty of respect though and it was only the booking of Ruby on Nichols Canyon that made me swerve that way from a betting perspective. Danny Mullins will ride this stayer who was desperately unlucky when last seen in the Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown. He travelled very well throughout the race and when Ruby moved him to the outside to make his challenge, he unfortunately had a crashing fall at the final flight. How he is after that fall is anyone’s guess and I think Nichols Canyon may just catch him for speed in the closing stages on a firm surface.
As these are not actually proper fences (They are more like Fixed Brush Hurdles and are quite small in comparison to the fences in the UK), Nichols Canyon could be at more of an advantage in that respect. He is a very slick hurdler, jumps efficiently and at speed so that could make all the difference at the business end of the race. It is Ruby Walsh’s birthday today so he will be very eager to celebrate it with a victory but we are in for a real spectacle no matter what the final result is.
NOTE: This is not on TV but we will provide LIVE updates on Twitter!