THAT’S A WRAP HAS THE RIGHT PROFILE FOR SUNDAY’S FEATURE
I am at Leopardstown on Sunday for Coral.ie Hurdle day.
I ride THAT’S A WRAP (3.10) in the feature race. It is a wide open race as usual, 23 horses wheeling around the inside track at Leopardstown, but my horse deserves his place in it. He has a chance.
He was very good the last day at Leopardstown over Christmas. He lost his position a little in the crowding towards the inside on the run around the home turn, but he picked up nicely once he got into the clear and he came home well to get up and beat Veinard by a half a length.
The handicapper raised him 7lb for that, and this is a step up in grade, so he is going to have to progress again, but he is a young horse and he is relatively lightly-raced.
You’re usually looking for a horse like him who can improve in a competitive race like this.
Heartbreak City is obviously the one that we all have to beat.
He won over hurdles at the Galway Festival in July and, if he can translate his Ebor form or his Melbourne Cup form back to hurdles, he would be a very well handicapped horse.
I ride JELAN (1.10) in the opener, the 'download The Coral App' Mares Maiden Hurdle. She is a full-sister to Jezki.
She won her bumper at Galway in October, and she didn’t run badly on her first run over hurdles at Leopardstown on St Stephen’s Day. She should be able to build on that.
I ride another well-bred horse in the Coral.ie 'best Price Guaranteed On Irish Racing' Maiden Hurdle in BOUBAFLY (1.40), a half-brother to Anibale Fly.
He hasn’t run yet, but Tony obviously thinks enough of him to allow him make his debut in this race. If he turns out to be as good as his brother, he’ll be all right.
I actually ride ANIBALE FLY (2.10) a half an hour later in the Grade 3 'money Back On Fallers' At Coral.ie Novice Chase. Yorkhill is going to be very difficult to beat, but we’ll have a go.
Anibale Fly just didn’t turn up at Kempton last time. He didn’t jump, he didn’t travel, he just could never find his rhythm.
Before that, he was good in winning on his debut this season, and he stepped up on that to finish second behind Coney Island in the Drinmore Novice Chase.
Hopefully he can return to that type of form. He will need to if he is going to get close to Yorkhill.
I ride SHADOW CATCHER (2.40) in the Coral.ie Leopardstown Handicap Chase. He is a decent stick, but he is what he is, the handicapper knows how good he is.
He continues to pay his way though, and he has a habit of running well in good races.
HOOD CAN HELP REGAL ENCORE...IF ASCOT GETS THE GREEN LIGHT
Hopefully racing will go ahead at Ascot on Saturday, hopefully the course will pass its early-morning inspection, because it should be a great day’s racing if conditions allow.
I'm due to ride REGAL ENCORE (3.35) in the bet365 Handicap Chase. He came good the last day. After pulling up twice in his first two runs this season, he put it all together last time in the Silver Cup in the fog at Ascot.
He is up in the handicap a little, and he is down in trip a little, which is not ideal. He will wear a hood, which he hasn’t worn for a while, and that should help him relax and, if he does relax through his race, that will give him a chance.
There are not many opportunities for him with his rating, so he has to run in these races, even if the distance might be on the short side for him. But if he is in the form that he was in the last day, he should run a good race.
I ride KOTKIKOVA (1.50) in the Grade 2 Olbg.com Mares' Hurdle, and I am looking forward to riding her again.
She didn’t run too badly in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas. She wasn’t beaten far in the end, and it was her first run here, it was her first run since she won in France last April, so she should come on for it. It was an encouraging run.
We are still figuring her out, but this looks like a good race for her, a three-mile Grade 2 hurdle confined to mares, and hopefully she can step forward from her seasonal debut.
If she does, you’d like to hope that she is the one that the others have to beat.
I ride PERCY STREET (12.40) in the opener, the E3creative Juvenile Hurdle.
He was a decent middle-distance handicapper on the flat, he won a Class 2 handicap at Newmarket last June on heavy ground off a mark of 95, and he didn’t shape badly on his hurdling debut at Newbury on New Year’s Eve.
His jumping warmed up as the race developed, and he kept on to finish fourth. He should be able to improve from that experience.
I am on DRUMCLIFF (2.25) in the two-and-a-half-mile Keltbray Holloway's Handicap Hurdle. He ran well at Kempton over Christmas, he was hampered at the second last flight, so he did well to run on as well as he did to just get up for second place.
This is a step up in grade for him, but he is entitled to step up. That was his first handicap, he is finding his feet, but he is going the right way.
I ride EASTLAKE (3.00) in the Grade 1 Berkshire Community Foundation Clarence House Chase. Obviously, he has it all to do, taking on Un De Sceaux and Ar Mad.
He has plenty to find on those two on ratings, but there are not many opportunities for a horse with his rating and, actually, he is not far off the others. He might as well take his chance here, see what he can pick up.
And I ride KIMBERLITE CANDY (4.05) in the last, the two-and-three-quarter-mile Grandnational2017.com Ebf Stallions 'national Hunt' Novices' Hurdle.
He won nicely at Newcastle last time, it was his second win from two runs over hurdles, and he continues to progress.
This is a competitive race though, there are several horses in here with the same profile, progressive horses who are probably half-way between winners and graded race horses.
It should be an informative race, but I hope that our horse can step forward again.