Wednesday 2nd August
He has been relatively lightly-raced down the years but he has always been a good horse, winning the Cheltenham bumper in 2014, the November handicap at Leopardstown in 2015, and last year finishing third in a Chester Cup. He hasn’t been out since September but he certainly has the class to play a leading hand and has finished second on both starts here, including when runner-up in this race last season. Castello Sforza could be the one to beat on the good maiden hurdle form he showed last season.
Things obviously didn’t go to plan for him over fences last year, so he returns to hurdles here. He does so off a fair enough mark, just 2lb higher than when narrowly beaten at Downpatrick last summer. He hasn’t raced for a while, but hopefully he will be straight enough to do himself justice and he actually finished a good fifth in this race last season.
A Toi Phil
He is a very smart horse on his day. He is a three-time Grade 2 winner who wasn’t disgraced in a Grade 1 when we last saw him at Punchestown in April. I think a mark of 149 is fair, conditions should suit, he won first time out last season and he has winning form in a big-field handicap. And I think stepping down from 3m will suit him, too. He looks to have a fair amount going for him in what is obviously a hugely competitive race, and a first-time tongue-tie could be another plus, too. It certainly worked well for Apple’s Jade at Cheltenham and Gordon knows what he is doing there. I sat on the horse on Tuesday morning, and I am very much looking forward to the ride.
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