A good quality Grade 3 contest for juveniles only and a potential pointer towards the Triumph Hurdle & Fred Winter at the Cheltenham festival next month. Read on for our tip, betting preview & runner by runner guide.
IN SUMMARY: It could be hard to split Landofhopeandglory and DINARIA DES OBEAUX, both of whom have solid Graded form in the book already, but preference is for the second mentioned in receipt of no less than 14lbs from the Joseph O’Brien trained 4-year-old. Gordon Elliott’s filly showed that she’s potentially out of the top class when third in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown a couple of weeks ago and she would have finished closer to top juveniles Mega Fortune and Bapaume were it not for making a two out. A big run is expected before a tilt at the Cheltenham festival. Ex Patriot is perhaps best of the rest and can fill the frame, but has a lot of improvement to find in order to trouble the main pair on this occasion.
LANDOFHOPEANDGLORY – Rated as high as 103 on the flat when trained by Aidan O’Brien and quickly made up into one of the best juvenile hurdling prospects earlier in the season, winning his first 3 starts over sticks before losing his unbeaten tag at Leopardstown (2m, Yielding) on Boxing day. Was attempting to give away a 3lb penalty to the smart Bapaume on that occasion and only beaten a little less than 2 lengths, so still came out as the best horse in the race. That form subsequently gained a massive boost with the winner and third, Mega Fortune, finishing second & first respectively over the same C&D in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle a couple of weeks ago and the now Joey O’Brien trained 4-year-old will be a big player once again.
AMAULINO – Ran a very solid race at Navan (2m, Yielding to Soft) last month when trying to take on older horses in a novice hurdle but finished over 22 lengths behind Landofhopeandglory at Leopardstown before that and clearly has a lot of work to do in order to turn the form around. Has the potential to do better and will be winning races, but outclassed against some of these and more of a long-term handicap project.
PROSPECTUS – 2-3 over hurdles and showed good form over C&D four weeks ago when getting the better of a well fancied Gordon Elliott gelding in the shape of Dakota Moirette. Today’s even softer ground will suit Prospectus better given how strongly he seems to get home but sandwiched inbetween his pair of wins was a hammering in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle in which Landofhopeandglory was second and that leaves him with too much to find. He will get closer this time around but should not be a win contender.
BOBABOUT – More exposed than most having already raced 6 times over hurdles but has been shown up as being no better than average in finishing 13 lengths behind Mega Fortune at Down Royal (2m, Good) in November and then again a couple of weeks later when 12 lengths off Landofhopeandglory at Punchestown (2m, Soft). Has jumping issues as well and not one to be considered at this lofty level.
CHAMPAGNE PAT – Got off the mark at the fourth attempt at Gowran (2m, Good to Yielding) in November but that wasn’t much of a race and the form hasn’t worked out at all. Beaten 32 lengths by Prospectus over C&D at the end of January and has masses to find with any number of the opposition. Easily swerved.
EX PATRIOT – Peaked at a rating of 86 on the flat for Ger Lyons but failed to win in 7 attempts and was later sold in November for €38,000. Took to hurdling straight away when getting the better of the reopposing Mengli Khan over C&D (Soft) six weeks ago and posted an even better effort in defeat when fifth to Mega Fortune in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown (2m, Soft) recently, but was still beaten by 15 lengths and needs to find dramatic improvement to turn the tables on runner up Landofhopeandglory.
MENGLI KHAN – Bought for 155,000 guineas after reaching a mark of 96 on the flat for Hugo Palmer and was well backed into 9/4 favouritism on his hurdling debut for Gordon Elliott over C&D in January. He shaped well there, finishing just a length behind Ex Patriot and looked like a horse who would improve for the experience. Should do exactly that but this is a very hot race in which to have a second hurdling attempt and he rightly looks like the Gigginstown second-string. One to watch but not for this contest.
SWORD FIGHTER – Stablemate of Landofhopeandglory and got the better of that rival when they met on the flat last year in a Group 3 at the Curragh. Rated 112 in that code and arrived to the hurdling game with a big reputation but hasn’t taken to it as anticipated, finishing in last of 8 behind Dinaria Des Obeaux and Ex Patriot in the Grade 1 at Leopardstown recently. Can’t be supported after that and needs to jump better.
CHARMS BRACELET – Showed moderate ability on the flat but didn’t run too badly on her one and only hurdling start to date, finishing sixth of 20, 13 lengths behind I See You Well. Should break her maiden in this code at some point in the future but it won’t be in this race. She’s outclassed and has no chance of placing.
DINARIA DES OBEAUX – Extremely impressive winner on her hurdling debut at Cork (2m, Soft to Heavy) in December, defeating 21 rivals by a minimum of 29 lengths despite being relatively weak in the betting for a Gordon Elliott winner of one. Jumped up in grade two weeks ago in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle and ran a cracking race in third behind Mega Fortune and Bapaume, beaten 10.5 & 3.5 lengths respectively but would have been even closer were it not for a bad mistake two flights from home. Gets at least 7lb from all of the geldings and is in receipt of a full stone from Landofhopeandglory. That makes her claims look very sizable and with improvement likely to emerge on just her third hurdling outing, she’s a major contender.