The Dark Horse previews the Hunter Chase at Clonmel and the final race at Meydan at the Dubai Racing Carnival on Thursday.
1 point win Celtic Thunder at 20/1 with Paddy Power and Boylesports
0.5 points win Tulpar at 20/1 with Paddy Power, Betfred and Bet365
JP McManus and Barry Connell have runners in this maiden hunter chase and the pair head the market.
Strangford Lough ran well on his debut in a point when owned by Enda Bolger before shaping with promise on his hurdling debut at Down Royal in McManus’s colours. However, his jumping hasn’t been too convincing in either start and at a short price, that’s enough for me to head elsewhere.
Hedgeinator started his life in the pointing field at Punchestown where he unseated his rider before running in 2 maiden hurdles. He returned to the pointing field at Tinahely last month where he put up a good performance to win in the quickest time of the day but he’s only a maiden winner and he hasn’t been overlooked in the market.
The horse of most interest in this race hasn’t completed on his last 2 starts but he showed enough ability in both (particularly the latter) to think he could run better than his price of 20-1 suggests. That horse is Celtic Thunder. He raced handily for much of the race at Down Royal 2 starts ago and was still in a share of the lead at 3 out but the effort looked to be taking its toll when he fell at 2 out having dropped back into 3rd. Last time out at Thurles he raced clear in a leading group of 3 with Two Rockers and Current Exchange. Given their previous runs at Down Royal, it was encouraging that Celtic Thunder was able to go with Two Rockers halfway down the back while Current Exchange was dropped and pulled up. The effort to stay with a classy rival took its toll after 4 out and he had just been headed for 2nd at 2 out when his jockey was unseated. That was a fine effort from him and although there could be a fair bit of competition for the lead Celtic Thunder looks overpriced at 20-1.
Tulpar is the other selection and returns to the track after an absence of 434 days. His point form in 2013 was nothing to get excited about but his performance on rules debut in a beginners chase was more encouraging. He raced enthusiastically for a long way and really attacked the fences, often gaining ground over his rivals. He travelled smoothly into 4th going to 2 out but pecked on landing having stood a long way off the fence. He soon recovered to challenge in the straight and went to the front on the run to the last but was wayward approaching the last fence which likely led to the error that caused him to unseat his rider. Despite that, it was a promising start to his time under rules. He raced keenly once again when sent over hurdles on his next start at Thurles where he finished 4th to Golantilla. He raced handily/led throughout and was headed by Golantilla between the last 2 hurdles before being beaten 2¾ lengths into 4th. It was another promising effort and the 1st and 2nd have gone on to be rated 133 and 125 over hurdles respectively. There is the obvious concern with him that he races keenly and is returning off a long break in testing conditions but he looks a little overpriced at 20-1.
1 point win Majeed at 14-1 with Betfair Sports
Majeed’s running style does mean that he could be identified as an unlucky or eyecatching loser more frequently when races don’t pan out ideally for him and become a frustrating horse to follow but the manner in which he ran last time suggests he shouldn’t be 12-1 in this event.
Prior to running at Meydan, he won his last 2 starts in the UK at Kempton and Chelmsford under Jamie Spencer. Spencer was on again for his dirt debut at Meydan but the horse hated the surface and was well beaten. He switched back on to the turf for his latest outing over 1m4f. He was dropped out a few lengths off the back of the main pack on the first bend by Paul Hanagan before being moved about 3 off the inside down the back off a slow pace. He ended up in last place entering the straight before being brought manoeuvred widest of all in the straight. He was still in last with 300m to go before quickening well to only be beaten by 2½ lengths.
Given his woeful position in that race, he put up a good performance yet Tannaaf is getting far more attention having put up a similarly eyecatching effort in that race. While Tannaaf is 4-1 2nd fav, Majeed is 14-1 with Betfair Sportsbook and that price looks generous despite a concern that he might get another troubled trip from the back of the field.