The first big Saturday jumps action of the season takes place at Gowran in Ireland and CeeBee is back with previews of the Champion Chase and the handicap hurdle.
16.35 Gowran Park – PWC Champion Chase 2m4f – Good Ground
A roll of honour that includes Sizing Europe, Kicking King, China Rock and Justified. Last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup 3rd went down by a head in a thrilling finish. This is a proper grade 2 chase. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the return of the National Hunt season!!
This year’s field includes a dual G1 winner from last season and two other Grade 2 winners. A strong field, let’s go through them.
Alelchi Inois – has featured in my last two summer blogs, the Kerry National and the Galway Plate. On both occasions I wrote the same thing – there’s nothing in his form to suggest he’s a 147 rated animal. He won a few small field novice chase last summer. He’s not up to this level, especially conceding weight to a few rivals.
Clarcam – Won the G1 Manifesto Novices Chase at Aintree in April. I’m not sure he’s a proper G1 chaser though, a 160+ horse like some of those on this roll of honour. In a bad 4yo hurdle year he was beaten at both Aintree and Fairyhouse. As a chaser his G1 win last Christmas came against a well below par Vautour and Ted Veale. Beating Ted Veale 17L on soft ground is nothing special. Then 15L (2nd Leopardstown receiving 10lbs) and 30L (8th in Arkle) behind Un de Sceaux before winning at Aintree. Neither of those outings suggested he was top class. The Aintree victory came against Vibrato Valtat who was also coming off a below par Cheltenham run, unlikely to be suited by 2m4f and perhaps feeling the effects of a long season. Back in third was the 144 rated Val de Law. I think 159 might be a little too high for Clarcam, a dual G1 winning novice but it was only when Vautour and Un de Sceaux were absent or well below their best.
Shanahans Turn – is the selection here. The Galway Plate winner is now rated 153 (6lbs behind Clarcam and 3lbs higher than Texas Jack). Importantly he has a fitness edge over Clarcam. 2m4f on good will pose no problems, arguably his best effort last season came in October over 2m4f on good ground at Punchestown. He travelled and jumped like a real class horse and won easily in the end at Galway. The form was held up fairly well in Listowel by the Paparazzi Kid. It wouldn’t surprise me if Shanahans Turn followed Road to Riches on a serious upward curve after winning the Galway Plate. As a big weak hurdler he also suggested he had bags of potential.
Devils Bride – beat Texas Jack in Listowel 2wks ago but it looked to be a slowly run affair and when the sprint for home began Devils Bride was in the right place and got first run on TJ. He has a lot more on his plate here and will need to improve on anything he has shown so far.
Indevan – chased home Shanahans Turn in a G2 Novice Chase last season but has shown very little of late. Tailed off in Galway, Kilbeggan and Listowel on his last 3 starts he’s impossible to fancy.
Texas Jack – was arguably unlucky in Listowel but it’s no co-incidence he’s often unlucky. 1 win in his last 14 starts – he’s an unreliable weak finisher. The uphill pull from 2out in Gowran won’t suit. Some of his best runs have come on softer ground also. The 5lb weight allowance brings him into this but the lack of regular pilot Paul Carberry is another negative.
Cailin Annamh – (translates as rare girl if you’re curious) both over hurdles and throughout her novice chase campaign she looked well short of this sort of G2 class but her last outing in Galway was much improved. However Rebel Fitz was returning after 10mts off, Colour Squadron had been brought down 3 days previously and Conquisto is bang out of form. Perhaps that race didn’t take much winning and she still is a high 130s mare. It leaves here with a stone to find.
In summary – Clarcam is slightly overrated and conceding fitness (educated guess) to Shanahans Turn who is in great form and will be suited by the test. Texas Jack not reliable enough and the others not good enough.
3 points win Shanahans Turn at 3/1 with Ladbrokes
16.00 Gowran Park – 3m Handicap Hurdle
Thekingofconnemara is the selection here. He won this very race last year (3miles on good ground) after a break so I’m hoping for a repeat scenario. His other first time out efforts in the previous two seasons have yielded place efforts at 16/1 and 20/1 respectively. Clearly a horse that goes very well fresh. He’s changed stable, Liz Doyle to Lar Byrne, during his summer break so I suspect the new local trainer will be eager to hit the ground running with his new prospect. Trip, track and ground obviously not a problem.
Icy Reply for the powerful Willie/Ruby combo will like the 3m trip on good ground. Buster Dan Dan was visually very impressive when winning at Listowel whilst the Tony Martin trained Guess Again is rated 22lbs below his chase mark. All 3 have rock solid chances but Thekingofconnemara is too big a price to ignore. Play each way and keep the stakes to a minimum
0.5 points each way TheKingofconnemara at 33/1 with Ladbrokes