I think Ballycasey is probably the one to beat but we have a pretty strong hand in here with four. The decision to side with Ball D’Arc was pretty straightforward though, as he is on a great winning streak and was very impressive for me at Naas last time. He is an improving course-and-distance winner, and hopefully his progression hasn’t stopped yet. You can give all our other three a chance at their best – I thought The Game Changer was going to be placed 3 out at Cheltenham last time, and Tell Us More is tried in blinkers – but Ball D’Arc is our best shot of beating Ballycasey. In fact, he is my best chance of the day.
He had some good summer form, winning three times, and hasn’t raced since October. He does have some form in heavy ground but I think he will probably want better going to be seen to best effect – the rain has been pretty bad here recently and this will be tough going – but hopefully he should give a good show on his chasing debut.
Avenir D’Une Vie
He met a couple of setbacks after beating Aussie Reigns impressively for me here in November, which was a blow because I thought he would develop into a very smart novice this season after that victory. I sat on him at Henry’s earlier in the week and he seemed in real good order but this is a pretty tough assignment on his first start back. He is a horse for the future though, whatever he does here.
He hasn’t been out since slightly disappointing at Leopardstown over Christmas, albeit it was in Grade 1 company, but his earlier form gives him each-way chances here. But, to be honest, I would struggle to make a winning case for him against some of these, including the Martin Pipe third Runfordave.
He won a maiden hurdle here in October and he ran a good race after a break when third at Limerick recently. He looks to hold a decent chance in an open contest.
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