Dinaria Des Obeaux
I think the English juveniles are better than ours this year – Defi Du Seuil is the one to beat – so I think we are up against it. And we don’t know how my filly will handle this better ground if we don’t get any significant rain. But she has clearly done little wrong, finished a good third to Mega Fortune in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown on just her second start, and deservedly got the race in the stewards’ room at Fairyhouse last time. She needs to step on that form to even get competitive here but she is lightly-raced and progressive, and she’s a real stayer.
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He is not the easiest horse to train but he has a massive engine and he was in good form over fences at the end of last year, winning a Grade 3 at Naas when we last saw him. He is 10lb lower over hurdles – well 6lb, as the UK handicapper has put him up 4lb – and the last time he ran over hurdles he finished sixth behind Douvan in the 2015 Supreme Hurdle. You will need a lot of luck in here but he has the ability to go close and the ground should be fine for him.
This has been a graveyard for favourites in recent years but I think we are the best horse in the race and this doesn’t look the strongest renewal. He was a seriously good bumper horse and he has clearly done nothing wrong in winning his four hurdles, netting his Grade 1 last time. We think the world of him but he doesn’t lack pace and the last 2f of this race can be a gruelling affair. The stamina has to be a concern – the fact of the matter is he is unproven over 3m, though he has won a point – but his quality isn’t. I think he will stay, though.
I fancy Djakadam. He was below par when third to my horse in the Lexus, having beaten him at Punchestown previously, and he has been here and done it before. He was only beaten by Don Cossack last year, and I think the winner would be 1/2 were he running in this race. Cue Card does have his stamina to prove, and Champagne West and Native River step up in class. They hacked round in the Irish Gold Cup and Sizing John will have his stamina tested properly here. Outlander surprised me when winning the Lexus and I hope he does so again here. He stayed very well there – he outstayed them – so perhaps he can improve again going further up in trip. If he does, he has a definite shout.
The Game Changer
I give him a decent chance. A mark of 150 looks okay, and he loves good ground. He needs dropping in, and brought steadily into the race. He was in the process of running a big race in the Arkle last year when he got turned sideways at the second last – he nearly got put into the Guinness stand and my saddle slipped too – and he would have definitely finished second or third but for that. He hasn’t run up to his best on soft ground on his last two starts, but he has had a break and comes here a fresh horse. I like his chances.
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